See the game below for the solution!
Larsen - 1. b3 or not 1. b3
Meet the PlayersMany will know Boris Spassky from the famous 1972 world championship match with Bobby Fischer.
Larsen is lesser known but was a very prominent player during the same era.
He was #2 in the world outside the Soviet Union and is also well-known, like Mark Taimanov for being crushed 6-0 by Fischer in the 1971 Candidates Semi-Final. Larsen is another superb and well-regarded player, making Spassky's performance in this game once again a thing of superb ability.
Larsen shouldn't simply be relegated to the history books however. He was a prolific player, winning the Danish championship several times and was a well-respected and feared opponent on the circuit.
For those fans of bold, position wide open, go for the throat chess, this is the game for you!
We saw Boris Spassky "blow the doors off" against Bronstein in the famous From Russia with Love game.
Here, Boris shows that against an obscure opening (but a sound one), Larsen had nowhere to run once the fireworks started - and did they!
1. b3 gets a bad reputation from this game but its record in the hands of Fischer and Nimzowitch was very favourable. White seeks to control the dark squares in the centre by utilising the long diagonal and following up with f4. Larsen doesn't quiet act quickly enough in this game and Spassky's control of the centre means it's a brutally short game.
What can we learn from this game?
- Beating wing openings demands strong central play
- Make the most of a development advantage
- Strike while the iron's hot!
Central playIn our article about meeting obscure lines against the French, we discovered the key was to take control of the centre as quickly as we could to equalise. 1. b3 is a wing opening but a sound one and relies on good play from white. Larsen didn't play terribly but just not perfectly.
Spassky took good control of the centre early in the game with 1...e5, 2...Nc6, 3...Nf6, 5...Bc5 and 7...Bf5, giving his minor pieces control over all the central squares.
Using a development advantageAs in the game with Bronstein, Larsen doesn't get his pieces into the game quickly enough which Spassky ruthlessly exploits! By move 9(!) Spassky's army is fully engaged and after ...h5, even the quiet rook on h8 is getting involved. By contrast Larsen has spent too long setting up his pawns, that his pieces cannot partipate in the up-coming slaughter!
Strike while the iron's hot!Spassky and Tal were brilliant at this. Reading that they had a positional advantage, both were more than happy to abandon pieces mid-battle after a higher goal.
12...h4 probably wasn't too emotional a decision for Spassky but 14...Rh1 was one that really will be remembered for a long time!