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Bent Larsen vs Oscar Humberto Castro Rojas
Biel Interzonal (1976), Biel SUI, rd 10, Jul-24
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Anglo-Grünfeld Variation (A16)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-06-11  Poulsen: What? No kibitzing on this one? Amazing - since Larsen - in a tournament almost "must win" situation - sacrifices his queen on move 21 - and Castro dares not take it!!

Losing the psyhological battle - and presumeably spending a lot of time - Castro loses his way just before reaching move 40.

Jan-06-11  Garech: I agree <Poulsen>, it's remarkable that there's no kibitzing here! I just had a little look with Fritz and, incredibly enough, black doesn't gain much by accepting the queen - but on the other hand, white has nothing more than a draw in the resulting position.

For example, if 21...Bxb2 white's only answer is of course 22.Bxb2, threatening immediately Nf6+, which would win the material back with interest. Black has only two viable responses: 22...Kf8 or Qe2, which both avoid immediate game winning tactics. However, after 22...Kf8 comes 23.Nf6 anyway, resulting in this position:


click for larger view

where black's only saving move is ...Qe2, resulting in a draw by repetition: 24.Nxh7+ Ke8 25.Nf6+ Ke7 26. d6+! (saving the day) Kf8 27.Nh7+ Kg8 29.Nf6+ etc and white draws - although you mentioned it was a must win situation, so even this is not good enough - still interesting though.

If black tries 22...Qe2 instead, next comes 23.Nf6+ Kf8 24.Nxh7+ transposing to the above line.

However, I believe that Larsen (as one would expect) had an amazing conception up his sleeve. In the first line I gave, black can attempt to hold his position a different (and ostensibly effective) way. Taking the position from the diagram I posted above, black can instead play 23...Qh6, hoping to save the h pawn:


click for larger view

But it is infact a very well-laid trap (a minefield, really) - and it's here that the devastation really begins! Essentially, white is left with a winning endgame after, for example:

24.dxc6 Bxc6 (Bxh3? c7!) 24.Bxc6 Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 Rxc6 26.Rd8+ Ke7 27.Ng8+


click for larger view

28.Kxd8 Nxh6

which is a completely forcing line and ends up with enough of an edge to grind out a win, IMO. Amazing talent and foresight from Larsen!

-Garech

Dec-19-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: engine eval on white's move 21 please?
Apr-22-17  Howard: Benko annotated this game in CL&R back in '76, and he mentioned the psychological ploy that Larsen used, in offering his queen. He referred to the queen offer as possibly "an outright bluff."
Aug-08-17  Howard: Larsen's 35.Rc4! was an especially good move, by the way. It completely cut off Black's rooks from being able to protect each other.

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