Larsen's Opening

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Larsen's Opening
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Moves 1.b3
ECO A01
Named after Bent Larsen
Parent Flank opening
Synonym(s) Nimzowitsch–Larsen Attack
Nimzo–Larsen Attack
Queen's Fianchetto Opening

Larsen's Opening (also called the Nimzowitsch–Larsen Attack, Nimzo–Larsen Attack, or Queen's Fianchetto Opening) is a chess opening starting with the move:

1. b3

It is named after the Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen. Larsen was inspired by the example of the great Latvian-Danish player and theoretician Aron Nimzowitsch (1886–1935), who often played 1.Nf3 followed by 2.b3, which is sometimes called the Nimzowitsch–Larsen Attack. It is classified under the A01 code in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings.

The flank opening move 1.b3 prepares to fianchetto the queen's bishop where it will help control the central squares in hypermodern fashion and put useful pressure on Black's kingside. The b2-bishop is often a source of recurring irritation for Black, who should not treat it lightly.

Although Bent Larsen was initially very successful with this opening, it suffered a setback in the 1970 USSR vs. Rest of the World match in Belgrade, in which Larsen played this opening against reigning World Champion Boris Spassky and lost in 17 moves.[1] (Of the 42 games between Spassky and Larsen, Spassky won overall with 19 wins, 6 losses, and 17 draws.)[2] Larsen was also decisively defeated when playing this opening against Rosendo Balinas, Jr. at Manila in 1975.[3]

Notably, the opening received interest from Bobby Fischer the same year, who employed 1.b3 on at least five occasions, winning all five, including games with GMs Filip and Mecking (Palma de Mallorca 1970 Interzonal), GM Tukmakov (Buenos Aires 1970), and GM Andersson (Siegen 1970).


Popularity[edit]

The move 1.b3 is less popular than 1.g3 (Benko's Opening), which prepares a quick kingside castling. According to ChessBase, 1.b3 ranks sixth in popularity out of the possible twenty first moves while the fifth-ranking 1.g3 is about three times as popular. Larsen frequently used unconventional openings of this sort. He believed it to be an advantage in that Black, usually unfamiliar with such openings, is forced to rely on his own abilities instead of relying on memorized, well-analyzed moves of more common White openings.

The relative unpopularity of 1.b3 compared to 1.g3, is probably because with 2.Bg2, the move c4 is often played later to strengthen the fianchettoed bishop's diagonal; whereas if f4 is played to strengthen the bishop's diagonal after 1.b3 and 2.Bb2, it weakens the kingside—the usual destination for White's king (0-0).

Main lines[edit]

Black has several options to meet 1.b3. The most common are:

  • 1...e5, the Modern Variation, is the most common response, making a grab for the centre and limiting the scope of the white bishop. Play typically continues 2.Bb2 Nc6. Then the Main line is 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.c4.
  • 1...d5, the Classical Variation, is the second most common, also making a grab for the centre and preserving the option to fianchetto the king's bishop to oppose the White one. White can play 2.Nf3 to transpose to the A06 line (see more below). Or else, White can play 2.Bb2 to proceed in the A01 line.
  • 1...Nf6, the Indian Variation, developing a piece and not committing to a particular pawn formation just yet. 2.Bb2 and if 2...g6 then 3.e4, taking advantage of the pinned knight (e.g., not 3...Nxe4 4.Bxh8, winning a rook at the price of a pawn).
  • 1...c5, the English Variation, retaining the options of ...d5, or ...d6 followed by ...e5. 2.c4 transposing to an English Opening or 2.e4 tranposing to a Sicilian Defence.
  • 1...f5, the Dutch Variation. 2.Nf3.

Less common lines include:

  • 1...e6, with Black setting up a variation on the French Defence. Here Keene recommends 2.e4 and if 2...d5 then 3.Bb2.[4]
  • 1...c6, a Caro–Kann variant preparing for ...d5. Again Keene recommends 2.e4 and if 2...d5, 3.Bb2.
  • 1...b6, the Symmetrical variation, is completely fine for Black.
  • 1...b5, the Polish Variation.

Nimzowitsch–Larsen Attack (A06)[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d5 black pawn
b3 white pawn
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
1.Nf3 d5 2.b3

The opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 (ECO A06) is also called the Nimzowitsch–Larsen Attack. It can be derived from 1.b3, but 1.Nf3 is more usual. Common replies for Black are 2...c5, 2...Nf6, and 2...Bg4. For each, White can play 3.Bb2 followed by 4.e3.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Larsen–Spassky 1970
  2. ^ http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?page=1&pid=21136&pid2=11227&eresult=
  3. ^ Larsen–Balinas 1975
  4. ^ Keene, Raymond (1977). Nimzowitsch/Larsen Attack. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. 
  5. ^ Jacobs, Byron & Jonathan Tait. Nimzo-Larsen Attack. London: Gloucester Publishers plc, (2001)

Bibliography

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]