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Bent Larsen vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Portoroz Interzonal (1958), Portoroz SLO, rd 16, Aug-31
Bird Opening: Anti-Bird Variation (A02)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-21-04  shr0pshire: Wow, props to Larsen for playing the bird against Petrosian. Larsen has mixed results with the Bird, but he beat a Petrosian 5 years before Petrosian won the world championship!
Dec-30-05  notyetagm: Beautiful final move by Larsen, 41 ♖hf7!. After pushing his h-pawn to h6 with 40 h6, White threatens the standard mating idea 41 ♖ag7+ ♔f8 42 ♖h8#, since the g7-rook is now defended by the h6-pawn.

To meet this threat Petrosian plays 40 ... ♘e8 to keep the White rook out of g7. <But what is the one weakness created by 40 ... ♘e8? This knight move blocks (weakens) the backrank!>. In particular, the f8-square is now defended only by the Black king. By playing 41 ♖hf7!, Larsen zeros in on this newly created weakness on f8, threatening mate in two with 42 h7+ and 43 ♖f8#. Petrosian resigned.

<When your opponent self-blocks his backrank (40 ... ♘e8), attack the squares that are no longer defended by the backrank pieces (f8-square, 41 ♖hf7!).> This tactical motif allowed Larsen to swiftly end Petrosian's resistance.

Feb-11-06  Chris00nj: Black also has 42. h7+ Kh8 43. Rf8# to worry about
Dec-22-06  Themofro: Larsen didn't have mixed results with the Bird's, he had very good results with the Bird's. Overall he had 19 wins, 7 losses the rest being draws covered on this website and he played it against whoever. For example he played it against Spassky in the penultimate round of Candidates one time and beat Spassky pretty badly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  shalgo: Weak defense from Petrosian (32...Rd6? 34...Nd6?)

I discuss this game here:

Dec-09-09  Dravus: Despite Black's defenses, two rooks on the seventh rank (with a pawn) give Larsen a flat-out mating trap.
Oct-26-10  Marquis Cesare: I don't like 8.d4 because of the hole on e4. I'm not saying that the line is unsound, but I personally would prefer 8.Nf3, although I would play a preliminary b3 Bb2 before playing Ne5.

Anyway, I love how well-coordinated Larsen's knights and kingside pawns were.

33.h4! either creates an outside passed pawn, or gives activity to Larsen's knight.

"For example he played it against Spassky in the penultimate round of Candidates one time and beat Spassky pretty badly."

Those second to last rounds do tend to be stressful.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Marquis Cesare: I don't like 8.d4 because of the hole on e4. I'm not saying that the line is unsound, but I personally would prefer 8.Nf3, although I would play a preliminary b3 Bb2 before playing Ne5.>

He's basically playing a Stonewall Dutch
(an opening he played with black) reversed.
(and a tempo ahead)

Im sure Larsen felt comfortable with
the hole at e4.

Nov-23-10  jerseybob: To Marquis Cesare: Retreating the knight with 8.Nf3 not only violates the spirit of this opening, which is to occupy e5 either with the knight, or a pawn if black swaps(hence white's 8.d4), but it wastes a tempo. Petrosian might have considered 4..Bxf3 to eliminate the knight.
Nov-23-10  Eduardo Bermudez: Larsen, the only chessplayer in the world who won to Petrosian and Spassky with 1.f4 !!
Apr-16-12  henjutsu: This should be a GOTD with the title "Larsen Flips The Bird At Petrosian."
Apr-17-12  RookFile: Maybe Petrosian should have played ...f5 at some point before Larsen played his f5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  profK: The young Dane was only 23 when he tamed the mighty tiger with this win.
Jun-22-16  Robyn Hode: This game is featured in the Introduction of IM Timothy Taylor's Bird's Opening.
Aug-28-16  zydeco: The bright spot in a horrendous tournament for Larsen.
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