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Boris Spassky vs Bent Larsen
Spassky - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1968), Malmo SWE, rd 7, Jul-17
Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation (B25)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-09-07  Maynard5: Another interesting game by Spassky, using one his preferred openings, the closed Sicilian. Larsen overreaches himself with 19. ... d5. Black may have overlooked the fact that after 22. ... Bxe5, White would just reply 23. Bg2, with the threat of Rxe5 followed by Bd4, and the simultaneous threat of Qe2, winning a piece. In essence, Black's problem is that he has several loose pieces on the e-file.
Nov-07-07  pacelli: You're right. If larsen was just a bit more patient he might have achieved greater chess success.
Nov-07-07  RookFile: Maybe Spassky should have tried the Closed Sicilian in the 1972 match.
Nov-10-07  ForeverYoung: RookFile poses a very good point. I don't recall anyone trying a closed Sicilian against him.
Nov-10-07  RookFile: Well, Boris used in 1992, and won with it. It certainly seems like it would have been better for him than trying to play against Fischer's mainline Najdorf stuff.
Aug-10-08  drukenknight: is there any way to hold this after

46...Bf6? goes something like:

47. Re4 Bg7
48. Kc6 Rc8+
49. Bc7 Bc3
50. h3

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <drukenknight>--Simply playing 47 Rb7 followed by 48 Rb8, as in the actual game, forces rooks off the board and leads to a won ending for white.
Aug-11-08  drukenknight: gregor: Yes that makes sense, okay what about 39...b3?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: Spassky's plan of rapid king centralization (40 Kf3) seems logical. Maybe 40 Kf3 followed by 41 c3. It does sort of seem that Larsen rolled over and played dead between here and the end of the game, but he was probably already lost no matter what he played.
Aug-11-08  drukenknight: the crap pc comes up with 39...b3 40 cxb so I wonder. Given the last move before time control what would a master be thinking here...

Or put another way, you seem convinced Larsen is lost at this pt. can you give me an explanation in term of theory? I am so bad at end games and been so suprised by what happens, that I am not sure of anything...thx.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: I suck at endgames myself, but I'll tell you what I've picked up from reading books and reading kibitizes by better players. Pawn-down endings--

--With opposite-color bishops are usually drawn (but not always, as Carlsen recently demonstrated and as I have sadly found out in my games).

--With same-color bishops are usually lost.

--With rooks are sometimes lost, sometimes not. There are a million or so factors to consider. Remember the phrase "Lucena Position" and hope you can recall how to achieve it (or avoid it) in an actual game.

--I once swindled some poor slob I was playing on the internet into a K+B (wrong color)+RP vs K ending; it was one of the high points of my life. He or she was so ticked off that they refused to concede the draw and kept on playing until just before time ran out, at which point (s)he stalemated me.

So, for this game, Larsen should have tried to keep the rooks and trade off the bishops, maybe by playing 44...Bf8 instead of 44...Bc3. Although in this position the white king is so far advanced that black is probably lost anyway.

If anyone reading this thinks that something I have said needs correcting, please feel free to do so.

Aug-12-08  drukenknight: Well I dont follow all of that.You are convinced Larsen is losing and you suggest swapping B, but then you dont believe this will work anyhow?

Isnt chess an objective analysis? If Larsen is losing then there must be a fatal move. Unless you believe that chess is a forced win from move 1....

If not then what? You talk about Spassky's centralized K and the outside passed pawn. BOth of these are objective/logical. In fact the centralized K is necessary to exploit the outside passed pawn, yes?

So logically I am looking at it thus. Would ...b3 hinder this potential passed pawn long enuf to get black's K into the game?

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Poor Bent, he didn't have a very good record against Boris...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <drukenknight> IMO, chess is supposed to be objective, but there is a slippery slope between "absolutely lost" and "absolutely won," with evaluations along the line of "losing, but possibly drawn with accurate play by the player with the inferior position." For someone of my patzerish ability, the position after white's 39th move in this game might be a win for white even against best play by black, or possibly a draw, especially if white's play is not 100% accurate.

Honestly, I don't know if 39...b3 would have saved black. I don't like it much myself, because after white plays c3 black's b-pawn looks like it might be hard to defend. I might have tried something like 39...Bh6. This seems to force a trade of bishops, which should increase black's drawing chances.

But that's just my evaluation of this position, and boy have I been wrong before.

Aug-12-08  drukenknight: why not try it w/ 39...b3 40 c3 and see what happes?

Even if some computer comes along and doesnt like your 40th just pretend you are spassky and only have so much time before the control. So you play and see what happens.

Right or wrong, we might learn something about endgames. I truly wonder if this is the best chance to hold this problem...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: Well, if you are Larsen and I am Spassky, and you play 39...b3, I'll play 40 Kf3. This protects the bishop and rook and forces your rook off the e-file. Then if you played, say, Ra4, only then will I play c3.
Aug-12-08  drukenknight: okay, we continue:

40. Kf3 Ra4
41. c3 Kg8 (I think better than Bg7 but still concerned that black K is too far away...)

Aug-12-08  drukenknight: forget this line, the passed pawn on c3 is protected and is very strong. I'm looking at black's 42nd move..
Aug-13-08  drukenknight: 42...Rc8 followed by ...Re8 I think is what he missed. There really is no pt. to 42...h5 at this moment is there?
Aug-13-08  drukenknight: YOu know looking at what we see on move 42 I had a funny feeling that we might be seeing more R pins on open files when the game first went off the rails. Because just is like that, trust me.

Sure enuf take a look at Maynard's original analysis in the first post up thread...

Is 22...Bxe5 really so bad? He doesnt give a line. Just some white threats. What if it goes:

23. Bg2 Rbd8 (more sensible than the crap pc suggestion of Rf6, ha) 24. Nd3 Bc4

Funny, huh? How stuff that might have happened earlier hangs over the game like some ghost. But that's part of the beauty of chess you can use that info to help you later.

I.e. if we really believe that Larsen was following an analysis on move 23 along the lines suggested by Maynard then surely he would have been considering some sort of Rook on open file stuff. Hence, wouldnt that be a clue to find the answer later in the game?

Or is it more likely at that pt. he simply lost the most logical progression of things? And all he saw was the B skewer on the Q and that was it? So when we get to move 42 there is no clue as to how to proceed.

Larsen played a lot of original and fine games against some players, for sure. But when I notice when he played Fischer he seemed to know where the most logical line is going and then he would back off at the last minute when he saw a ghost or something. Seemed to happen over and over again vs Fischer. And why not? Fischer always played the most logical progression of moves to whatever conclusion it would lead to, if you go down that road and then you back off at the last minute....Whoa! Bad.

Or consider Petrosian's style. He would deliberately induce weakness in his own position in order to create some compensation somewhere else. His style always contrasted nicely when he played Fischer..

Jul-21-18  Ulhumbrus: If Black can't regain the pawn by 22...Bxe5 this suggests that the advance 19...d5 loses a pawn.

After 27 Bxc5 White's bishops dominate the queen side and win a second pawn. Larsen manages to regain one of the pawns in the end but this does not save his game.

The 40 Kf3! employs a recurring endgame stratagem. It develops the king and threatens to develop the king further so that White will end up playing with an extra king

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