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Boris Spassky vs Bent Larsen
"The War of the Worlds" (game of the day Dec-16-2017)
USSR vs. Rest of the World (1970), Belgrade SRB, rd 3, Apr-02
Queen's Indian Defense: Kasparov Variation (E12)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-09-04  Shah Mat: wow this IS a really weird game. I have to say that spassky's immediate tactical attack on blacks' center is pretty bold and refreshing, and even if his endgame was unsound, the opening combonations made for nothing less htan interesting play.
Feb-20-05  WMD: 37.Kf1 is as bad as any blunder Spassky made against Fischer. 'Benya' was reportedly down to his last couple of minutes, and Boris was trying to hurry him. 37.Nb6 Nxb6 38.Rxb6 g3 39.Rf1 should hold.
Dec-26-07  Petrosianic: This is the game played right AFTER the oft-anthologized 17 moved butt-kicking Spassky gave to Larsen in this game:

Larsen vs Spassky, 1970

And it is a pretty bizarre one. After his ingenious play the game before, Spassky hands this one to Larsen on a silver platter.

And so, despite having a lifetime +19-6 record against Larsen, he was only +1-1=1 against him in the USSR vs. The Rest of the World Match. After this game, the Soviets benched Spassky for the final round, and replaced him with Stein, to avoid the possibility of Larsen defeating the World Champion.

Dec-26-07  RookFile: It was this version of Larsen that was considered a real threat to beat Fischer and go on to win the world championship.
Dec-26-07  underdoggum: wait, why not 14.Bxd8?

there be a bishop fork

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <underdoggum> That's right, and it's always good to keep your eyes open for such stuff. But I imagine it was a sacrifice on Black's part. Let's look at the position after <14.Bxd8 Nxd6 15.Be7 Nxc4 16.Bxf8 Rxf8>:

click for larger view

Black already has one pawn for the exchange, and is threatening to gain another if he wishes by either ...Nxb2 or ...Nd2. His pawn position is more solid, his knights aggressive, and there's no obvious place for the White rooks to do any damage.

Of coruse, things are far more complicated than this summary might indicate, but you can be sure that both players looked at positions like this and judged them perfectly good for Black.

Dec-05-08  PolishPentium: Would 31 Nxg7+ be an improvement for White? It certainly appears to be from this duffer's perspective...
Dec-05-08  danielpi: <Polish>

Well, if 31. Nxg7+ Ke5 32. Rd7 fxe3 33. fxe3 Rg8...

To my eyes looks better for Black... but probably far more of a patzer than you.

Feb-21-09  WhiteRook48: was this Larseny?
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: The data base here has Spassky beating Larsen 19-6 with 17 draws. Not quite as decisive as Fischer's 12-2, and one draw. This game is pretty wild, and doesn't really feel like a Spassky game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: I suspect Spassky evaluated the positions arising after 13.gxf3 as clearly better for him in his preliminary analysis, overlooking the consequences of the elegant rejoinder 13....Ne8.

As noted by <Phony Benoni>, if White should accept the exchange sacrifice, it's difficult to utilise his slight material advantage, and the game continuation is by no means bad for him.

Nov-14-10  Tigranny: Isn't Kf1 a blunder because Spassky loses both a rook and knight?
Dec-30-10  BLarsen1967:
Dec-30-10  BLarsen1967: <danielpi> Yes,and also 33..Rd8 34.Rgd1 Rxd7 35.Rxd7 a4 - that too looks real fine for Black
Apr-18-14  Eduardo Bermudez: The only chess player, no russian, who won against three reigning world champions with black pieces !
Apr-18-14  Petrosianic: Keres did, and he was Estonian.
Apr-18-14  Petrosianic: So did Reshevsky. I'm pretty sure he beat at least Alekhine, Botvinnik and Smyslov with Black.
Apr-18-14  Petrosianic: Come to think of it, Reshevsky beat Lasker with Black. So, that's at least 4, which beats Larsen's 3.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Eduardo>'s statement was <reigning> titleholders.

Reshevsky never played Smyslov while the latter was champion, defeated Botvinnik with Black while the Patriarch was on the way to winning the match tournament (but had not yet won) and won against Alekhine only while Euwe was champion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: When it comes to beating World Champions during their stint as World Champion the biggest hurdles are Smyslov, Tal and Fischer.

Tal lost this famous game, at the Olympics, J Penrose vs Tal, 1960, and I think he also lost Stein vs Tal, 1961. I am not counting looses during WC matches, because as Tim Krabbé says, the title is held in abeyance during the match itself.

Smyslov can't have lost many during his one year, and Fischer had given up chess altogether.

Dec-16-17  goodevans: <WMD: 37.Kf1 is as bad as any blunder Spassky made against Fischer. 'Benya' was reportedly down to his last couple of minutes, and Boris was trying to hurry him. 37.Nb6 Nxb6 38.Rxb6 g3 39.Rf1 should hold.>

A clever alternative is <37.Rg1>. Now if <37...Rxd5> white can regain the piece with <38.e4+ Kxe4 39.Rxg4+>.

Dec-16-17  morfishine: This was payback for Larsen's catastrophic loss to Spassky in round 2: Larsen vs Spassky, 1970


Dec-16-17  cormier: 1) +0.77 (37 ply) 9.d5 exd5 10.cxd5 Nxd5 11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Qxd5 Kg8 13.Rfd1 d6 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Qxd6 Rad8 16.Qxe7 Nxe7 17.Rxd8 Rxd8 18.Rd1 Rxd1+ 19.Nxd1 f6 20.Nd2 Kf8 21.f3 Nc6 22.Nc3 Ne5 23.b3 Ke7 24.a4 Bc6 25.Kf2 Bd7 26.Nb5 a5 27.Kg3 Nd3 28.e4 Be8 29.Na7 Bd7 30.Nc4 Be6 31.Nc6+ Kd7

10.0 minute analysis by Stockfish 8

Dec-16-17  Cheapo by the Dozen: Perhaps I'm making too much of geographical proximity, but Larsen seems to be as much of an antecedent to Carlsen as anybody. I think of him as playing "theoryless" chess, priding himself on evaluating positions differently than conventional wisdom might.

This game fits that pattern. Spassky attacked in a way that most of us would think was destined to succeed ... but it didn't.

Dec-16-17  WorstPlayerEver:

click for larger view

Position after 13... Ne8

SF suggests 14. Qxf8 Qxg5+ 15. Kh1 Qh5 16. Rg1 Qxf3+ 17. Rg2 g6 18. Rd1

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