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Bent Larsen vs Boris Spassky
Amsterdam Interzonal (1964), Amsterdam NED, rd 22, Jun-19
Bird Opening: Dutch Variation (A03)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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  keypusher: <He scored highest with the opening 1.g3 d5 (a winning percentage of 80%! in 32 games including wins over Geller,Korchnoi,Hort, Ulf Andersson,Ribli,Gligoric, and Susan Polgar).>

This game inspired me to start playing 1. g3. Larsen vs Geller, 1960. Unfortunately, so far I have only managed to demonstrate that I am no Bent Larsen.

Nov-19-06  Albertan: On move 34 Hiarcs 10 chose to open up the g-file via the move 34.gxh6 however this does not lead to an advantage for White as Hiarcs 10 suggests this continuation: 34...Kg6!? 35.Rh2 Qxh6 36.Rg2+ Kf7 37.Qa1 Rg8 =

Larsen chose to sacrifice a pawn on move 36. Hiarcs 10 preferred to protect the White c-pawn and suggested a variation involving the sacrifice of a pawn for black: 36.Rhc2 Kf8 37.Qa4 b5!? 38.cxb5 h4 39.Rxc8+ Nxc8 40.Qa3 Nd6 41.b6 h3 and White has compensation for the pawn.

On move 39,despite being 3 pawns down, Hiarcs 10 evaluates that Larsen has sufficient compensation for the pawns.

Hiarcs 10 gives Larsen an advantage after Spassky's 40th move of ...Qh6 .

Hiarcs gave a poor evaluation to Spassky's 42nd move.Instead it suggested 42...Rb8 43.Ne6+ Kf7 44.Rg7+ Qxg7!? 45.Nxg7 Rg8 46.Qe6+ Kf8 (the only move) 47.Qh6 c4 48.Kf2 Rxg7 49.Qxh5= with an equal position.

Nov-19-06  Albertan: I wonder why Larsen did not snatch the free pawn available to him on move 44? After 44.Nxc5 Junior 9 (which is programmed to understand the concept of "compensation") suggests that Spassky does not have sufficient compensation for the pawn with this continuation possible: 44...h4 45.Ne6 h3 46.Rg7+ Qxg7 47.Nxg7 Kxg7 48.Kh2 Kf8 49.Kxh3 Rc8
Nov-19-06  Albertan: <tamar: Something about Larsen reminds me of the great Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine.>

Hi tamar I remember Steve Prefontaine, he was quite a runner. It is hard to believe he has been dead 31 years (sigh...where does the time fly?). I remember that Prefontaine was known for his extremely aggressive racing style, disliking the tactic of sitting and kicking, and always believing in giving a full effort.He is quoted as saying: ""To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift." I guess that is why he was so successful in his running career and why someone like Kasparov (despite his great natural talent for chess) has also been so successful. I remember Kasparov being quoted as saying (when he was World Champion,) "I study chess 8 hours a day everyday." Thanks for rekindling my fond memories of Steve Prefontaine :).

Nov-19-06  Albertan: <keypusher:This game inspired me to start playing 1. g3. Larsen vs Geller, 1960. Unfortunately, so far I have only managed to demonstrate that I am no Bent Larsen.>

Hi keypusher, yes Larsen's victory over Geller in 1960 sure is a classic. Don't be to hard on yourself, continue to play 1.g3 and the more you play it the better your results will be with the opening. Most players you face are totally unexpecting the move, and that certainly throws them off (if they have not studied the ideas behind 1.g3).

Nov-19-06  Albertan: Junior 9 evaluated that Larsen had a better idea on his 48th move that being 48.Qa7 with this continuation possible: 48...h3!? 49.Rg3 Qh8 50.Ne6+ Kf7 51.Rg7+ Qxg7 52.Nxg7 Kxg7 53.Qxc5 Rh8 54.Qa7 Kf7 55.Qc5 Ke8 56.Qc5 Rh4

Larsen could have forced Spassky to give up the exchange on move 50 if he had played 50.Nd8+ Rd8 (playing 50...Kf8? to protect the black rook would have failed to 51.Nb7 Nf7 52.Nc5 Nb6 53.Qe6 threatening 54.Rg8 checkmate would force 53...Qxe6 and after 54.dxe6 Rd8 55.Rg5 Nb7 56.Rxf5+ Kg8 White has a decisive advantage.) 51.Qxd8 (threatening 52.Qg8 checkmate) forces 51... Qf8 play might then continue: 52.Qxf8 Kxf8 53.Kxh4 e6 54.Rg6 c3 55.dxe6 c2 56.Rg1 Nc4 57.Kg5 Ke7 58.Kxf5 Nxe3+ 59.Ke5 Nc4+ 60.Kxe4 Kxe6 and white is winning after 61.Rc1 Na3 62.f5+

Nov-19-06  Albertan: Spassky made a mistake when he played 55....Ne4? . Instead he should have played 55...Rd8 and he would have been okay after 56.Rd1 Re8 57.Kxh4 Rd8 58.Rd4 Rh8 59.Nd5 Ne4

Spassky blundered by playing 58...Ra2?? however even after 58...Rf8 he would have lost after 59.Rg6+ Kh7 60.Kg4 Rb8 61.Kf4 Rb4 62.Rg4 Rb8 63.Kxe4 Ra8 64.f6! exf6 65.Kf5 Re8 66.e4 Ra8 67.e7 Kh6 68.e5 fxe5 69.Kxe5 Kh5 70.Rg1 Kh4 71.Ke6 Ra6+ 72.Kf7 Ra7 73.Kf8 Ra8+ 74.e8 (Q)

Spassky resigned on move 60 possibly due to this continuation: 60...Kg7 61.Rf7+ Kg8 62.Kg5 Rg2+ 63.Kf4 Rf2+ 64.Ke5 Ra2 65.Rxe7 Ra5+ 66.Kf6 Ra8 67.Rg7+ Kf8 68.e7+ Ke8 (the only move) 69.Rg8+ Kd7 70.Rxa8 with a checkmate after: 70...Kc6 71.e8(Q)+ Kc5 72.Qc8+ Kb4 73.Rb8+ Ka5 74.Qc3+ Ka6 75.Qa8 checkmate.

Dec-02-06  Rama: Both Larsen and Spassky were hot in this tournament.

We've seen that Larsen's use of the Bird's was strategical and purposeful. 4. b4 ..., sets up the coming Q-side action. 7. ... c6, is necessary to forestall the advance b4-b5, and then 8. a4 ..., threatens a kind of Minority Attack.

11. d4 ..., blocks the Bb2, but it does much worse things to the black position. At first I did not like 11. ... Ne4, but since ... f5, is always in reserve I can see that the pawn e4 is not all that weak.

The position after 15. Qd1 ..., looks like something that Larsen has prepared in advance. The existence of the move allows the coming 16. c4 ....

The follow-up moves 17. b5 ..., and 19. bxc6 ..., present black with a crisis. Ordinary tactics like 19. ... Nxe3, followed by 20. ... Qxe5, do not work because of 20. cxb7! ..., with the Rb1 ready to support. Spassky's 19. ... b6, is ingenious in that it preserves his Q-side pawn structure, and after 21. ... Qxc6, he regains the material.

22. d5 ..., starts a whole new phase of the game. Somehow, Larsen has spied the e6 square and determines to put his Knight there no matter what the cost. With 24. Nd4 ..., he has it in hand but first makes a series of preparatory moves. When it comes on 31. Ne6 ..., black is reduced to nearly complete passivity. The sequence ending with 35. Nxg5+ ..., shows this clearly.

36. c5! ..., is a master-move. No matter what, white gains access to the checking square a4, and then access to all the white squares in the vicinity of the enemy King.

Black's passivity is now complete. In Zugzwang, he proceeds to wreck his position with pawn advances since his pieces cannot move. White waits until move 52 to play Qe6! which forces the Q-exchange. The threat 54. Nh7 mate, is the point which allows 54. Nxe4 ..., and 55. Nxc3.

But now it is Boris who cooperates with 55. ... Ne4?, which is surely a blunder. After the exchanges, white's pawns regain their mobility and in just three moves it is over -- the e-pawn is going to queen.

Does the presence of 55. ...Rd8, nullify Larsen's masterpiece? Only for chess-theorists. Larsen created the conditions that produced the blunder in the critical game, which in itself is chess of the highest order. Remember, Spassky had obtained 8 points in his last 10 games in this tournament; he was very very tough to beat at this moment.

Dec-06-06  Monoceros: I love the little Ne6+ Kf7 Ng5+ Kf8 dance in this one. It's like a little tempo-generating machine that Larsen uses to get his position ready. Crank it once, Kh2. Crank it again, Kh3...
Apr-24-07  Judah: Tempo-generating? It generates nothing at all.
Apr-24-07  euripides: <52. ... Qh5 53 Ne4 Qf3+ 54 Kh2 and there is no good defense for Rg8.> Here Black could fight on with 54...Qe2+ and if 55.Rg2 Qxg2+ 56.Kxg2 fxe4 when the c pawn is useful; or 55.Kh1 Qf3+ aims for repetition. However, 54.Kxh4 seems to leave Black without any good checks and if 54...Nf7 then 55.Qxf7+ Kxf7 56.Ng5+ and 57.Nxf3 wins a piece.
Aug-20-07  adnol: Hey everyone,

What about

44. Rg7+ for Larsen

Would this be a bad move? It wins him either a queen for a rook and a knight, putting his king in "safety" or otherwise wins him a knight and a pawn, if black doesn't accept the queen lose by Rxe7, Qxe6, although it puts white's king in many many checks and rather a dangerous situation.

What do you guys think about 44. Rg7+ ?

Thanks for all the input

Dec-11-07  mirzafuadi: If 44.Rg7+ Black can hold by simply exchange his Queen with White's Rook and Knight with 44...Qxg7.
Dec-27-07  Riverbeast: A beautiful game from the 'Morozevich' of his day
Jun-28-08  apexin: yes, a very nice game. a classical example of play in this opening (and double bishop sacrifice) is best shown by Lasker vs J Bauer, 1889
Nov-05-08  notyetagm: A *tremendous* win by Larsen using the Bird opening.

If I am correct, this game was played in the very last round of the 1964 Amsterdam Interzonal tournament, with Larsen clinching 1st place due to this win.

Nov-05-08  Eyal: <If I am correct, this game was played in the very last round of the 1964 Amsterdam Interzonal tournament, with Larsen clinching 1st place due to this win.>

The penultimate round, actually. In the final round Spassky managed to win against Quinones (Spassky vs O Quinones, 1964) and make up for this loss, sharing 1st place with Smyslov, Larsen and Tal.

Feb-08-09  veerar: Larsen,a noted,"flank player",lives upto his reputation.His wins against Petrosian are also noteworthy!
Mar-04-09  parisattack: Beautiful 'Play on the Wings' game!
Sep-14-10  Lil Swine: this game actually should be a draw due to three- fold repetition: ( Ne6+, Kf7)
Sep-15-10  Sleeping kitten: There have actually never been more than two repetitions, since positions at moves 43, 46 and 49 were not the same.
Oct-03-10  GRANTZIERER: I submitted a pun for this game: Larenso's oil. Based on the movie Lorenzo's oil which is based on the story of the oldest living case of ALD.
Mar-13-13  Garech: Great game from Larsen.


Aug-04-13  leroquentin: 41.Ne6+ Kf7 42.Rg7+ Kf6 43.Qxa7... - There's no way to avoid mate after Qa1+, I supposed.
Jul-19-17  Xeroxx: Pretty smooth win.
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