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Portisch - Larsen Candidates Quarterfinal Match

Lajos Portisch6.5/10(+5 -2 =3)[games]
Bent Larsen3.5/10(+2 -5 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
Portisch - Larsen Candidates Quarterfinal (1977)

Larsen qualified for this match from the Biel Interzonal (1976). Portisch qualified from the Varese Interzonal Playoff (1976) that followed after Biel. The other quarterfinals were Spassky - Hort Candidates Quarterfinal (1977), Polugaevsky - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1977) and Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1977). Each match was of 12 games, and the first to achieve 6½ points would be the winner. If after 12 games there was no winner (6-6 score), then two more games would be played. If there was still no winner, the procedure would be repeated until there was one. (1, 2) According to Harry Golombek, no provision had been made if there never was a winner, when the matches presumably would have been decided by natural causes. (1) The matches were held in order to have a challenger for Anatoly Karpov, the World Champion.

The match was organized by Rotterdam Schaakbond in cooperation with VVV Rotterdam and the newspaper Het Vrije Volk. (3) The playing venue was De Doelen (4) in Rotterdam. The games started at 1 pm. Entrance fee: 5 guilders (pass: 25 guilders). (5) The four quarterfinal matches were connected via a telex machine, and the moves were displayed on big screens, and commentated on by Cornelis van Wijgerden and Hans Bohm, according to plan. (6) Rein Dijk was tournament director. Main arbiter: IA Armin Heintze (president of the DDR Chess Federation 1964-1978), assisted by IA Arthur Schuering (of Rotterdam). (7) The official opening was on Friday 25 February, in the Burgerzaal of the City Hall. The players were welcomed by alderman Johan de Jong. Heintze showed the venue to the players, who preferred (and soon agreed on) a more spacious chess board and table. (8) Larsen had arrived the same day without any second, whereas Portisch had brought with him Gyozo Victor Forintos. (8, 9) The two had met before in the Larsen - Portisch Candidates Quarterfinal (1968).

The Times reported after Game 1 that a "Brass band helps Portisch to World chess victory". (10) The clock had been started at 1:03 pm, Larsen came 1:10 pm, and the ceremonial opening move made by Catharina Roodzant. An hour later the players were disturbed by Salvation Army music from a hall near by. The game had to be stopped and moved to a room in a building at Mathenesserlaan, where the deputy tournament director Cees van der Waal was employed. (9) Here the game was adjourned in an equal position at move 41. There was no food or drink, and van der Waal bought a kilo of cheese for the players to satisfy the worst hunger. Play was resumed in De Doelen the next day (a Sunday). Larsen did not find the best continuation (46.h4) of his attack and lost. He was upset, but later in the evening one could hear him typewriting his report to the newspaper Ekstrabladet. (9)

Handshake before Game 2:

Game 2 was a short draw. The organizers had done everything possible to prevent disturbances, and Larsen joked before Game 3 that he wanted to play without any "illegal music". (11) However, the pianist Arie Keizer had managed to enter a sealed room and find a piano. He was told he was not welcome before 6:30 pm. (12) Portisch lost a pawn - and the game after a long endgame the following day. Game 4 was on Larsen's birthday. He sacked a bishop for pawns, but Portisch did not return the present. Game 5 was postponed one day, due to a sudden change of venue (still in De Doelen) which the players had not been informed about. When they arrived to play they could not agree on the light settings. (13) In Game 6, Larsen blundered a pawn and later lost. His wife had arrived to Rotterdam early that morning. (14) Game 7 was postponed for two days because Portisch was sick. (15) Larsen won (probably one of his best games). Portisch asked for two days postponement again before Game 8, and now he won. (16) After a draw in Game 9, Larsen blundered again in Game 10 (15...c5), lost the exchange, and the match.

Rotterdam, Netherlands, 26 February - 26 March 1977

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Prizes (17) 1 GM Portisch 2625 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 6½ 12,500 2 GM Larsen 2615 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 0 3½ 7,500

Portisch advanced to the Spassky - Portisch Candidates Semifinal (1977). After the match was over, Larsen went straight to Geneva (1977) by train. (17)


1) Harry Golombek in The Times, 19 February 1977, p. 9.
2) Tidskrift för Schack, vol. 83/2, p. 46.
3) Het Vrije Volk, 8 February 1977, p. 2.
4) Wikipedia article: De Doelen.
5) Het Vrije Volk, 23 February 1977, p. 6.
6) Het Vrije Volk, 21 February 1977, p. 20.
7) Het Vrije Volk, 24 February 1977, p. 8.
8) Het Vrije Volk, 26 February 1977, p. 10.
9) Het Vrije Volk, 28 February 1977, p. 22.
10) The Times, 28 February 1977, p. 5.
11) De Telegraaf, 1 March 1977, p. 15.
12) Het Vrije Volk, 3 March 1977, p. 11.
13) Het Vrije Volk, 8 March 1977, p. 7.
14) Het Vrije Volk, 12 March 1977, p. 11.
15) Het Vrije Volk, 14 March 1977, p. 21.
16) Het Vrije Volk, 21 March 1977, p. 19.
17) Het Vrije Volk, 28 March 1977, p. 23. Prizes are in Dutch guilders.

Original collections: Game Collection: WCC Index (Portisch-Larsen 1977) by User: nescio and Game Collection: Portisch - Larsen Candidates Quarterfinal 1977 by User: Tabanus. Thanks to User: jessicafischerqueen for trying to improve the English.

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Larsen vs Portisch 0-1661977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalB25 Sicilian, Closed
2. Portisch vs Larsen  ½-½201977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Larsen vs Portisch 1-0861977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalB47 Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation
4. Portisch vs Larsen 1-0801977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
5. Larsen vs Portisch  ½-½771977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalC50 Giuoco Piano
6. Portisch vs Larsen 1-0511977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
7. Larsen vs Portisch 1-0641977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
8. Portisch vs Larsen 1-0541977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalA21 English
9. Larsen vs Portisch  ½-½631977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
10. Portisch vs Larsen 1-0301977Portisch - Larsen Candidates QuarterfinalE62 King's Indian, Fianchetto
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-25-16  RookFile: Sounds like Larsen was a pretty distracted dude during this match.
Jan-05-17  paavoh: I am surprised by the haphazard way the organizers seemed to run this match. Very unlike the Dutch meetings I have attended....
Jan-06-17  Howard: Actually, CL&R explained some of the problems the organizers had with this match. There was one incident where someone was in a nearby room practicing on a musical instrument while one of the games was taking place. The organizers gave him a "generous tip" to get rid of him, but this turned out to be a "tactical error" because shortly later he was back playing "louder than ever" obviously hoping to extract a "bigger tip".
Jan-06-17  Howard: It was unfortunate, incidentally, that Larsen's last time in the Candidates proved to be an anticlimax. He was thoroughly beaten in this match, by a three-point margin.
Jan-07-17  paavoh: @Howard. Exactly what I meant by haphazard. The organizers should have made sure that the venue was peacefulmin the first place...
Jan-07-17  Howard: Remind me to dig out the issues of CL&R from 1977. They did say, by the way, that the organizers attempted to keep track as to who had the keys to the music rooms in the building. In other words, it sounds like they did make reasonable efforts to ensure quiet.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: <Howard> Dig out the issues of CL&R from 1977 (reminding you before the rush :-) )
Jan-10-17  Howard: Thanks ! I'll do so within the next 3-4 days.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: :-) D
Jan-14-17  Howard: All right, I looked at the July, 1977 issue of CL&R yesterday---thanks, Dionysius1 for "reminding" me. But, frankly, there's little to add to the fairly-detailed account posted above.

There was an error on my part, however. The "hurdy gurdy" street musician (as Pal Benko described him) was actually playing outside on the street (not in a nearby room, like I'd stated). You know the rest of the story---the organizers gave him a "generous tip" to get him to stop playing, but an hour later he was back...

Benko also stated that the organizers were careful as to who had keys to various studios/rooms in the vicinity of the playing area, so as to prevent disturbances, but in Game 3, someone who apparently had his own key got into one of the nearby rooms and started practicing music. He quickly agreed to stop, however.

The first session of Game 4 was indeed played on Larsen's 42nd birthday---Benko mentions that.

He also stated that after the 4th game, no more outside disturbances were encountered.

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