London chess fans are about to enjoy a great treat. The London Chess Classic will run from the 10-14 December with a tremendous line-up: Viswanathan Anand, fresh from his title challenge against Magnus Carlsen in Sochi; former world champion Vladimir Kramnik; world no. 2 Fabiano Caruana; as well as grandmasters Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura and Britain’s no. 1, Michael Adams. The venue, as usual, is London’s Olympia (www.londonchessclassic.com).
London has been the scene of outstanding chess ever since the celebrated André Danican Philidor moved here during the late 18th century and dazzled London audiences with his displays of blindfold chess. Another frequent visitor to London was the Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen who himself came close to winning the world championship. One of his exploits from a London tournament is given in this week’s puzzle. Meanwhile, Everyman Chess have published a fine collection of Larsen’s best games, written by the prolific Cyrus Lakdawala. This is of particular importance since Larsen’s own published collection only went up to 1969, and his long-promised second volume of masterpieces never appeared. The comments to this iconoclastic victory are based on those by Lakdawala.
Taimanov-Larsen: Vinkovci 1970; Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 dxc5 0-0 6 Bf4 Bxc5 7 Nf3 Nc6 8 e3 d5 9 a3 Qa5 10 Rc1 Via a Nimzo-Indian the game has transposed to a main line (with 5 Bf4) of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. 10 … Be7 11 Be2 dxc4 12 Bxc4 Nd5 13 Bxd5 exd5 14 Qb3 g5 (see diagram 1) Here we see Larsen’s genius as his mind convulses forth an aberrant yet potent idea. 15 Bg3 The g5-pawn is taboo: 15 Bxg5?? (15 Nxg5?? d4! is the same trick) 15 … Bxg5 16 Nxg5 d4! and the double attack wins a piece. 15 … g4 16 Nd4 Undoubtedly shocked, Taimanov goes astray. Correct was 16 Ne5 d4 17 exd4 Nxd4 18 Qc4 Nc6 19 Nxg4 Be6 20 Qe4 with an unclear position. 16 … Nxd4 17 exd4 Bg5 18 0-0 Kasparov writes: ‘The exchange sacrifice appears tempting (the opponent is deprived of his important bishop — the only defender of the dark squares), but in fact it turns out to be dubious.’ Larsen’s true genius is to understand that Taimanov’s thematic exchange sacrifice was not to be feared. 18 … Bxc1 19 Rxc1 Be6 20 h3 gxh3 21 Be5 f6 22 Ne4 Taimanov’s move looks like a brilliant shot but Larsen has seen further. 22 … fxe5 23 Qg3+ (see diagram 2) 23 … Kf7 24 Nd6+ and 23 … Kh8 24 Qxe5+ both win for White. 23 … Bg4 The bishop martyrs himself before White’s startled queen, the tricky point of which is to deflect the white queen away from e5. 24 Qxg4+ Kh8 25 Ng5 Qd2 The double attack on White’s rook and the f2-pawn seizes the initiative and Black wins. 26 Rc7 Qxf2+ 27 Kh2 Qxg2+ 28 Qxg2 hxg2 29 dxe5 Rac8 30 Rxb7 Rc2 31 Nf7+ Kg7 32 e6 Kf6 33 e7 g1Q+ 34 Kxg1 Rg8+ White resigns