Larsen’s Opening (1. b3) has taken over fifth place, narrowly pulling ahead of g3 in the popularity race for White’s first move. Out of 281,678 games played in major tournaments in the years 2014 and 2015, Larsen’s (1. b3) numbered 2,049 (0.73% of all those games); the former fifth-place g3 was edged out with 1,956 games.
That 0.73% may not impress most chess players, but among the sub-1% openings the lowly b3 is now at the top, albeit not in the same league as the English Opening (6.7% for the two years 2014 and 2015). Larsen’s Opening is not new, with Bobby Fischer playing it at least four times in major competition in 1970, winning all four games.
The opening’s name comes from the Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen.
Chess books on this opening include the following:
- Nimzowitsch/Larsen Attack, by Grandmaster Raymond Keene
- Larsen’s Opening, by chess expert Bill Wall
- Nimzo-Larsen Attack, by expert Jonathan Tait (an Everyman chess book)
In the following game, Bobby Fischer defeated Vladimir Tukmakov (who gained the title of grandmaster two years later in 1972). It’s from the Buenos Aires 1970 chess tournament, which Fischer won by a margin of 3½ points, a huge margin in tournament scores. Tukmakov came in second, half a point ahead of Oscar Panno.
White: Robert J. Fischer
Black: Vladimir B. Tukmakov
1. b3 e5
2. Bb2 Nc6
3. c4 Nf6
4. e3 Be7
5. a3 O-O
6. d3 d5
Black’s position is fine, with a strange-looking pawn structure on White’s part
7. cxd5 Qxd5
8. Nc3 Qd6
9. Nf3 Bf5
10. Qc2 Rfd8
11. Rd1 h6
12. h3 Qe6
According to the Stockfish chess engine, the position gives about even opportunities after twelve moves of this game between Fischer and Tukmakov.
After Black’s 12th move (Qe6)
13. Nd2 Nd7
14. Be2 Kh8
15. O-O Bg6
According to Stockfish, a5 or Qg6 would are better than Bg6 for Black’s 15th move.
16. b4 a6
17. Rc1 Rac8
18. Rfd1 f5
According to Stockfish, f5 is far from the best move here. Nb6 would have been better.
19. Na4 Na7
20. Nb3 b6
21. d4 f4
22. e4 Nb5
Black would have done better with Bxe4 (23. Qxe4 Qxb3)
White (Bobby Fischer) to move
23. Bg4 Qf6
According to Stockfish, Black would be down by the equivalent of at least two pawns if Qg8 had been played instead of Qf6. (White wins more quickly after Qf6.)
24. dxe5 Nxe5
25. Bxc8 Rxc8
26. Rd5 Black resigns
Fischer won this game on the merits of his middle-game skill rather than on the theoretical strength of Larsen’s Opening. It takes a game completely out of standard opening variations, making it a potentially potent weapon against an opponent who is very well prepared with memorized standard lines.
The Kids’ Book of Chess
Beat That Kid in Chess
Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors
[Beat That Kid in Chess] is best suited for the beginner who already knows how to move the pieces around but would like to win some chess games.
Contrary to what one might assume from the title, this book is not for little kids. The reading level is for teenagers, adults, and some older children.
One estimate for the number of chess books published . . . is about 100,000. Probably less than 10% of those were written for the raw beginner . . .