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Bent Larsen vs Lajos Portisch
Amsterdam Interzonal (1964), Amsterdam NED, rd 15, Jun-08
French Defense: Winawer. Delayed Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-19-05  nizzechess: Poor Portisch - run over by a train!
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: 5....Qe7+ put this line out of business many years ago.
May-03-07  micartouse: Larsen's attack completely baffled me. I couldn't find many of his moves.
Aug-21-12  csmath: Beautiful game "whose attack is faster" but not exactly accurate.

Portisch could have fought a lot harder while Larsen missed forced easy win with quiet

21. Bc5

with all the same motives with added threat of d5 in some variations. Larsen played 21. Qf4?! but Portisch got lost in continuation and did not play the strongest moves.

Aug-21-12  DanielBryant: 15...Bxa3 doesn't work because after 16.bxa3 Qxa3+ 17.Kd2 b4 18.Ra1 bxc3+ 19.Nxc3, White's queen cannot escape.
Aug-22-12  DanielBryant: Er, make that Black's queen.
Feb-27-13  pjanda: What should we be afraid of, when we play French Defense, 5. Hf3. Better is 5 ... He7+ (from M. Shereshevsky)
Apr-13-14  zydeco: <DanielBryant> Except that after 19.Nxc3 black's queen can go to b4. Then 20.Ra4 Qb7 21.Rxc4 Nd5 and it's a chaotic position but white's king is much more exposed.

After Portisch backs out with 16....Qd8 the game becomes a massacre.

If 27.....Qd7 28.Rxe7+ Kxe7 29.Re1+ Kd8 30.Qf6+ or 29....Kf8 30.Qf6+ Qf7 31.Qd8+

If 29....Rxb8 30.d6 Rb7 31.Nd5

If 31.....Qxc6 32.dxc6 Ra7 33.Nd5 Rf7 34.c7

If 32....Rxe7 33.Rxe7+ Kxe7 34.Re1 Kd8 35.Qf6+ Kc7 36.Re7

Larsen's sequence 23.Bb8 24.Qe5 25.g5 is a very pretty way to take control of all the dark squares in black's position.

This was not a good game for black's light-squared bishop.

Nov-02-17  mulde: Ironically, it was Larsen who was totally outplayed himself by Fischer's black-squared strategy using the French. 6-0 in Denver ... Well, now both of them are dead. Times they are a changin'.
Nov-03-17  Howard: Nit-picky point, but White's last move is NOT a checking move.
Nov-03-17  sneaky pete: Nit-pickier still, it IS a checking move.
Nov-07-17  Howard: Aaaaaaargh !!!!

You're right---I was WRONG.

Nov-07-17  jinkinson: <zydeco> It looks like after 19. Nxc3 Qb4 20. Rhb1! Black's queen is actually trapped.
May-26-19  scholes: this game features in mathew sadler alphazero book as example of using h pawn to attack
Aug-14-21  Gaito:

click for larger view


This position was critical. Larsen has just played 11.h4!? (the engine believes that 11.a3 was somewhat preferable). Portisch played 11...Nc4 which seems to be the logical follow up of his previous move 10...b5. The engine (SF14) considers that 11...Nc4 was perhaps a bit premature, and instead suggests that Black play 11...Bf5. It is obvious that White's most dangerous piece in this posion is his Bd3, so it makes sense for Black to try to exchange that piece right away with 11...Bf5. Incidentally, this variation of the French Defense was seen in the first game of the Capablanca vs. Alekhine match, 1927, and Alekhine played ....Bf5 very early (not in this position, but in a siimilar one) so as to exchange White's dangerous light-squared bishop. For the sake of comparison, the game Capablanca vs. Alekhine can be seen in this link: Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927 [analysis]

Aug-14-21  Gaito: In connection with the comment by kibitzer scholes a couple of years ago: <May-26-19 scholes: this game features in mathew sadler alphazero book as example of using h pawn to attack> Yes, that is quite true. Bent Larsen advocated the use of the rook pawns half a century before Alphazero and its brain child Lc0. Nowadays most of the young grandmasters play like that, making use of the rook pawns more often than the old masters did in the past. In these days (2021) it is very common to see games that begin like this: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!? Check, for example the game Fedoseev vs. Magnus Carlsen, FIDE World Cup, August 4, 2021. it can be seen in this link: V Fedoseev vs Carlsen, 2021
Aug-14-21  Gaito:

click for larger view


In this position White apparently missed an excellent opportunity to play the breakthrough 18.h6! at once. Instead, Larsen thought that he could still wait and thus wasted a valuable tempo with 18.Qg3? After that move Portisch could have played a good defensive move 18...h6 (preventing White from playing 19.h6) or even better, to start a promising counterattack with 18...b4! But Portisch played neither of those moves, and instead played 18...Ra7?, an obscure and mysterious rook move whose purpose I fail to understand (perhaps it was a very deep move?) That wasted tempo allowed Larsen to attack with a free hand on the kingside with 19.h6, though the engine (SF14) believes that 19.Bd6 would have been even stronger (computer evaluation +3.47)

Aug-14-21  Gaito: Lajos Portisch was exceedingly strong in 1964, and I believe that he was better than Larsen, but certainly in this game Portisch was not the real Portisch. Maybe he was unwell or just had a bad day.

click for larger view


The move 21...Kf7? is tantamount to throwing onself into the water for fear of the rain. Of course, Black was lost already no matter what he played, but maybe 21...Nd5 would have lost with more dignity. After 21...Kf7? 22.Bf5, as kibitzer nizzechess pointed out: "Portisch was run over by a train". <Jan-19-05 nizzechess: Poor Portisch - run over by a train!>

Aug-14-21  Gaito:

click for larger view


Surely Larsen must have relished this position very much. He even got a chance to shine for the gallery with 29.d5! with the deadly threat 20.d6. No doubt White's attack was terrific, but Black provided his opponent all sorts of facilities to carry out his attack at leisure.

Aug-15-21  Gaito:

click for larger view

<18...Ra7?, an obscure and mysterious rook move whose purpose I fail to understand (perhaps it was a very deep move?)>

Of course, there was nothing "mysterious" about the move 18...Ra7. Portisch simply wanted to prevent 19. Bc7. That is obvious. But was 18.Bc7 a threat to be afraid of? Or was it really a threat? Let us suppose that Black just ignored that "threat" and played instead 18...h6 in order to prevent 19.h6 (18... b4 was possibly better, as mentioned above). A likely continuation might have been 18...h6 19.Bc7 Qd7 20.Bd6 Re8 21.Bc5 b4 22.Ne4 bxa3 23.Bxa3 Nd5. White would have had an edge, but he would still be far from having a "won game". (Computer evaluation by SF14: +0.86). See diagram below:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: French players should study this game. They may have to face a similar attack.

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