Saturday, September 11, 2010


Larsen opening

It is named after the Danish Grandmaster Bent Larsen. Larsen (1935-9 Sept. 2010) was inspired by the example of the great Latvian-Danish player and theoretician Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935), who often played 1.Nf3 followed by 2.b3, which is sometimes called the Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack. It is classified under the A01 code in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings.
The flank opening move 1.b3 prepares to fianchetto the queen's bishop where it will help control the central squares in hypermodern fashion and put useful pressure on Black's kingside. Often, the b2 bishop is a source of recurring irritation for Black, and it should not be treated lightly.
Although Bent Larsen was initially very successful with this opening, it suffered a setback in the 1970 USSR vs. Rest of the World match in Belgrade, in which Larsen played this opening against reigning World Champion Boris Spassky; and lost in 17 moves. (It should be pointed out that of the 42 games between Spassky and Larsen, Spassky won overall with 19 wins, 6 losses, and 17 draws.) Larsen was also decisively defeated when playing this opening against Balinas at Manila 1975.
Main lines in Larsen's opening are:
* 1...e5, the Modern Variation, is the most common response, making a grab for the centre and limiting the scope of the White Bishop. Play on this line typically continues 2.Bb2 Nc6, attacking and defending the e5 pawn, respectively, and then 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.f4 is the main line.
* 1...d5, the Classical Variation, is the second most common, also making a grab for the centre and preserving the option to fianchetto the King's Bishop to oppose the White one. Here, white uses 2.Nf3 to hopefully transpose to a reversed Nimzo-Indian Defence or another Indian defence. This can also be reached by the move order 1.Nf3 d5 2.b3.
* 1...Nf6, the Indian Variation, developing a piece and not committing to a particular pawn formation just yet. 2.Bb2 and if 2...g6 then 3.e4, taking advantage of the pinned knight (e.g., not 3...Nxe4 4.Bxh8, winning a rook at the price of a pawn).
* 1...c5, the English Variation, retaining the options of ...d5, or ...d6 followed by ...e5. 2.c4 transposing to an English Opening or 2.e4 tranposing to a Sicilian Defence.
* 1...f5, the Dutch Variation. 2. Nf3.

Denmark's greatest chess player ever, Bent Larsen, passed away Thursday evening, the 9th of September.This is a final tribute to the great GM Larsen.

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