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Anatoly Karpov vs Bent Larsen
Montreal (1979), Montreal CAN, rd 12, Apr-27
Scandinavian Defense: Main Lines. Mieses Variation (B01)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-27-09  smaragdus: Scandinavian is absolutely beautiful for black, but it requires exquisite technique and and deep positional insight. It is a shame that almost no one of the so called super grand masters keeps it within their inventory. A similar beauty of a game that shows how marvellous Scandinavian Defense is- Topalov vs Nisipeanu, 2007
This is the bravest answer to the ugliest and cowardliest of all chess moves- the abominable E4. Study Scandinavian, study Chess!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <smaragdus> -- <the abominable E4.> Absolument. A move for a Yeti. And not a GM Yeti.

*Smaragdine* is one of my favorite words, btw. What opening do they play in the Emerald City? Perhaps the Icelandic Gambit... the not-in-Kansas-anymore Variation, of course.

Has Anand totally given up the Scandinavian? It must be the creeping neurosis that overtakes world champions.

Some never play again, like Fischer. Some get lazy, like Petrosian. Some play more carefully, like Spassky after 1969 or Kramnik after 2001. (I know the *fetal drawnikoids* can't believe it, but he *was* a dashing and exciting player as a teenager).

And some feel they should act dignified as befits their high office, so they stick to 'respectable' and Orthodox openings. Anand is one of these.

The best model I can think of is Karpov, who broadened his range after becoming world champ, and regularly revamped his openings while winning many tournaments.

Alekhine gets the runner-up spot, for drinking milk to beat Euwe. Now that's smaragdinous.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: My award includes all of Karpov's doubles, of course, including those who were shot for playing gambits or exiled to Siberia for developing an unsightly paunch.

Siberia was surprisingly good for the figure, if your idea of physical beauty tends to the skeletal.

Jun-22-09  TheChessGuy: This is the only game Karpov lost in Montreal 1979, sharing first with Misha Tal. Strange how he had White against the player who took last place.
Jul-18-09  tranquil simplicity: Ladies and Gentlemen! It is very interesting to me that Domdaniel used the words over-CAUTIOUS moves to describe Karpov's loss. I will not even go as far as considering the KARPOV DOUBLE story as I do not believe at all! Karpov the man, is certainly one of the strongest Chess Masters of all time. However he has to me, an overly CAUTIOUS, PROPHYLACTIC, DRY and TECHNICAL STYLE that is considered elegant by some but that i find dull. So I believe in this game, it was Karpov the man who overextended himself in the opening (perhaps assuming the Scandinavian defense is weak) but failed to nail Larsen quickly, then became his old CAUTIOUS self. Unfortunately it was too late!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  ToTheDeath: I like Karpov's play actually- 26.h5 and 31.Nde5 Rf5 32.hxg5! look promising for White. Karpov simply overestimated his position and fiddled around for too long, allowing counterplay on the F file.
Oct-17-09  dannygjk: Even as late as move 46, it seems White can get an even game with, 46.Rde1. The rooks support each other and work together to prevent/create threats.
Oct-17-09  bravado1: Karpov seems to have big problems when someone plays against him a less popular opening (of course Scandinavian is quite common, but rare on a grandmaster level). This poses a question whether his strength was not in the endgame technique, as it is believed, but in a good opening preparation.
Oct-19-09  dannygjk: Hi, <Bravado1> ya, that makes sense, since masters/gm's perform better if a chess position, 'makes sense', if it is, 'normal'. This is proven by studies involving masters/gm's and players who have not made chess their life study.
Oct-19-09  Jim Bartle: Interesting point, danny. Any place to look up those studies?
Oct-19-09  dannygjk: ya, start with DeGroot :)
Sep-11-10  Atking: I like the way Larsen negociated this opening. Rooks came first on d file then on e file an finaly on f file...
Feb-18-12  RookFile: In the opening, Karpov didn't want to play an early Nf3, meeting Bg4 with h3, and playing g4 after the bishop goes to h5. But that's exactly how you get an advantage.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I love the rope-a-dope style. I LOVE using it but - my friends - I have been annihilated scores of times! But that is my opponents' fault!
Jul-28-15  tivrfoa: hi. what is the sequence after 37. Bxh4?
Jul-28-15  TrollKing: tivrfoa, if 37. Bxh4? then 37 ... Rxd3!
If 38. Qxd3?? then 38 ... Nf4+ picks up the Queen.
Jul-29-15  tivrfoa: <TrollKing: tivrfoa, if 37. Bxh4? then 37 ... Rxd3! If 38. Qxd3?? then 38 ... Nf4+ picks up the Queen.> Nice =). Thanks a lot.
Aug-10-17  JoseTigranTalFischer: I happened upon this game looking at some of the tournaments on the list ChessBase did of the 50 greatest of all time that was put out like, 15 years ago (so really not all time, at this point) and I'm trying to wrap my mind around how Karpov - World Champion Karpov, undefeated since taking the title again earlier that year - loses only one game in what could be argued to be the strongest tournament competition every brought together for a tournament, and that loss is at the hands of the dead last tournament finisher. I don't mean to say that Larsen was not a great player but it can hardly be argued that he had anything but a disappointing tournament overall. How does that happen?? Larsen draws with white and wins with black?? To the World champion and co-tournament winner?? The only one in that entire field of brilliance that takes a win and a draw from the games against the contest winner?? I'd actually like to read what Larsen had to say about this tournament cuz that's just so unusual and unbelievable. Those two games versus Karpov game as many tournament points as the six games against the three players who tied for next-to-last ahead of him (Hort, Huebner, Kavalek). I've just never seen anything like that. Was Larsen's only goal at Montreal to knock Karpov around while ignoring the other 6 exceptionally strong players....
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <JoseTigranTalFischer: ...I've just never seen anything like that. >

First of all, welcome to I am afraid I did not see your interesting post until just now... There is an awful lot to see read and hear at this site: you were not being ignored or anything like that, it's just that people were elsewhere.

Later in this same year Larsen played in the very strong Buenos Aires (Clarin) (1979) and won "by a distance": 3 points ahead of 2nd place.

He was a player who could blow very hot and cold. At Montréal he seemed a little below par and his opponents were ruthless with him.

In this particular game Karpov did not play very well. He became very overextended. You can tease Larsen a little bit but you MUST NOT take the piss, and here Karpov started taking the piss.

It is not unknown for last-placers to beat winners in chess tournaments. I think Eugenio Torre might have done it, among others.

My favourite piece of giant-killing is at St. Petersburg (1909), where 13th plave Fyodor Ivanovich Dus Chotimirsky defeated both winners, Lasker and Rubinstein.

Nov-12-17  Howard: A good example of a "near miss" in the above-mentioned category was at NY 1924, in which Janowski (who came in dead last) almost beat first-place finisher Lasker...but he botched things so bad he ended up losing.
Nov-12-17  Retireborn: In a similar tournament to Montreal (Santa Monica 1966) Larsen lost to tail-enders Donner and Ivkov, yet also scored two spectacular wins against then-World champion Petrosian. It's never a surprise to me when a World Champion loses to another top player.
Nov-14-17  Howard: Then there was the 1985 US championship in which dead-last McCambridge beat clear-first-place Lev Alburt. It was the latter's only loss in the event.

Granted, that tournament wasn't exactly one of the "top-10 toughest tournaments of the year", but it's worth noting.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: That game was known as McCambridge's Mercedes.
Jul-08-20  Ulhumbrus: With 12 a4 Karpov has a phalanx of four pawns on the queen side. What is Larsen going to do about it?

Larsen is going to play a group of three pawn moves.

He begins with 12...c6 clearing c7 for his queen but also supporting another pawn move, the advance ...b5.

A little later Larsen plays 14...b6 presenting Karpov's a pawn with a target and tempting Karpov to attack it.

Karpov does attack the target by 15 a5 but this displaces the a pawn so that now his phalanx of four pawns on the fourth rank has become transformed into a phalanx of only three pawns on the fourth rank.

Shortly after that Larsen plays the third pawn move 16...b5. This attacks the c pawn in the middle of the phalanx.

Karpov advances the c pawn but now it has been displaced and his phalanx of pawns exists no longer but has been replaced with a v shaped formation that includes a backward d pawn and which permits an outpost on d5 for Black.

Karpov tries to attack the king side and gains two rooks for a queen but on this occasion it is the black queen which turns out to be the more powerful.

This cannot be called forced for at least one reason: Karpov did not have to respond to the provocation ...b6 by advancing his a pawn. Perhaps it was more advisable to spend more time preparing some other attack.

Mar-10-21  Saniyat24: Larsen had escape room set up for all of Karpov's attacking pieces...he just regrouped his major pieces in the back (like when Larsen played 27...Qc8, it looks like his major pieces are discussing tactics improving the impenetrable bunker)...meanwhile Karpov has more space but his knight is hovering around aimlessly, and his pieces look uncoordinated...and Larsen takes full advantage of this...!
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