ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
The passing last week of Bent Larsen caused a late change in my subject matter for this month's column. Throughout his career Larsen was a great exponent of Flank Openings, using them to great effect against all levels of opposition. Last month I covered the one that bears his name, 1.b3. It featured in the themed blitz match between Peter Svidler and Peter Heine Neilsen which was arranged to celebrate Larsen's 75th birthday.

Download PGN of September '10 Flank Openings games

Bent Larsen 1935-2010

Thanks to his self made origins Larsen was tremendously strong in unusual positions, much more so than many of his leading Soviet rivals. He was also a very quick player and won many games in his opponents' time trouble. I think he liked Flank Openings largely because of this - they gave him scope to create unusual positions and set his opponents problems from move 1 rather than follow 15-20 moves of theory.

I think that his methods are well worth studying, in fact he's been one of my major sources of inspiration with my own Flank Opening play. There's actually a lot more to be learned from this than just checking for the latest 'theoretical novelties'; those are good for a day or two but understanding some elements of Larsen's thinking is more of a meal for a lifetime. So on to the games...

In the first one he plays 1.g3 against Victor Korchnoi (Larsen - Korchnoi) and then creates a tense and unusual position with 4.Qa4!?:

White was better out of the opening but it was mainly the tense and unusual position that was created that did the damage. It looks as if Korchnoi got into serious time trouble in the latter stages and this cost him the game.

Larsen's patented 1.b3 appears in his games against Kavalek (Larsen - Kavalek) and Eley (Larsen - Eley). Both these games feature devastating attacks against Black's king in which White's dark-squared bishop plays a big role.

Larsen - Petrosian is a Réti in which the mighty Tigran gets ground down in the endgame, something that probably surprised him greatly. Larsen - Timman is also an endgame win, the most notable feature of this game being the bamboozling effect of delaying d2-d4.

In Larsen - Tal and Larsen - Chandler both feature the Symmetrical Variation of the English with a delayed advance of White's d-pawn once again being what causes the damage.

Finally there is Larsen - Andersson in which White's unusual treatment of the position with 7.d3 and 9.Qa4+ causes some confusion:

This is then magnified with the Larsenesque 15.h4! with Andersson's time trouble doing the rest.

The practical nature of Larsen's play will not appeal to everybody, not least because it demands a lot of chess ability rather than the 'ability' to study theory. But for the right player there are tremendous practical advantages to adopting this approach, and indeed Larsen was one of the most successful tournament players of the 20th century.

Till next month, Nigel Davies


Please remember to point out and send your games to me. Drop me a line at the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to