Bent Larsen book by Mihail Marin – and the title is…

We are happy to announce that one of our favourite authors, GM Mihail Marin, is writing a book for Quality Chess about the legendary player Bent Larsen. So we have a great author, fascinating topic, ideas for the cover based on a specially-commissioned painting, but we have one problem – we can’t decide on a title.

We have been playing with ideas based on Larsen’s characteristics: optimism, creativity, fighting spirit, and so many more. Titles such as:
“The Lethal Optimist”
“The Warrior Optimist”
“The Fighting Optimist”
“The Immortal Optimist”
“The Eternal Optimist”
One of us even suggested:
“Hell-Bent on Winning”

So what do you think? Do you like any of the above? Any better ideas? New ideas are welcome – it certainly does not have to be based on any of the above.

If we use your suggested title, we will mention you on page 2 of the book, and send you a free copy of the book you helped to name.

156 thoughts on “Bent Larsen book by Mihail Marin – and the title is…”

  1. Fantastic! Hope it will beat the Batsford Classic „Bent Larsen, Master of Counter Attack.“ which deeply inföuenced my playing style.

  2. The word “Lars” in Scandinavian means: “crowned with laurel”. So I propose:
    -Bent Larsen: Laurel/s of Optimism.
    -Bent Larsen: Confessions of an Optimist.
    -Bent Larsen: Optimist Un-covered.
    -Bent Larsen: Optimist forever.
    -Bent Larsen: The Eternal Optimist.
    -Bent Larsen: The Good, the Bad and the Optimist!

    Larsen happen to a refined Journalist and made a decent living from it. Perhaps there is an angle to be taken from his Journalism career.

  3. I like

    “Bent Larsen – The eternal Fighter”


    “Bent Larsen – “Eternal Fighting”

    a lot, even something like

    “Fighting until bare Kings, Power Chess by the great Dane”
    sounds interesting to me as a longer title…

    A last idea is something like this:

    “The relentless Fighter, Power Chess by the Great Dane”


    “The relentless Optimist, Bent Larsen, the Great Dane at his best”

    Good luck for choosing a title! 🙂

  4. Omaray Shah :
    The word “Lars” in Scandinavian means: “crowned with laurel”. So I propose:
    -Bent Larsen: Laurel/s of Optimism.
    -Bent Larsen: Confessions of an Optimist.
    -Bent Larsen: Optimist Un-covered.
    -Bent Larsen: Optimist forever.
    -Bent Larsen: The Eternal Optimist.
    -Bent Larsen: The Good, the Bad and the Optimist!
    Larsen happen to a refined Journalist and made a decent living from it. Perhaps there is an angle to be taken from his Journalism career.

    “The Eternal Optimist” sounds great to me as well! 🙂

  5. As Larsen is my favorite player, I don’t miss the chance to have pleasure to suggest several titles !
    – The romantic Strategist
    – Pugnacious and high-risk Taker
    – The boundless Self-Believer
    – Virtuosity and Ressourcefulness
    – Creative and Combative
    – The opportunist Attacker
    – To beat one’s Opponent above All
    – Romantism and high Self-Confidence
    – Each Game as a new creative Challenge
    – Always playing for the Win
    – Between Boldness and Temerity
    – Disturbing the Balance
    – Fighting Spirit prevails
    – (Bent) Larsen’s fighting Spirit Effect (referring to the famous acoustic feedback)
    – Echoing Romantism and Optimism (same comment)

    Have fun while choosing the title ! 🙂

  6. What about the classic

    “The Viking Warrior”?

    Not sure if it’s copyrighted, but it fits..

    Also, tongue-in-cheek titel for the french audience: l’arsonist

  7. Hamlet’s Heir
    b3! or Not b3? That is the Question
    To His Own Self He Was True
    Method in the Madness
    Creativity is the Soul of Wit/Creativity Was the Soul of Bent
    The Chess Conformists Doth Protest too Much

  8. On further reflection, how about:

    -Bent Larsen: Caissa’s Connoisseur
    -Bent Larsen: The Optimist (This seems simplest and in line with the Geller Book).
    -Bent Larsen: The Chess Professor
    -Bent Larsen: The Chess Zealot
    -Bent Larsen: The Chess Idealist
    -Bent Larsen: The Chess Curator, The Curator

    Larsen loved to play “Museum Opening” 2.Bc4, 1.b3,1.f4 etc etc hence the “Curator”.


  9. I seem to recall the Russians describing him as a coffee house player ! I think then Magnus beat Kramnik with 1f4 (A Larsen special) in a blitz game !

    Chess Pugilist – I don’t believe that’s been used as a title yet and lends itself to artistry but the odds of it being used are about minus 1000 !!

  10. Michael Agermose Jensen

    I wanted to suggest
    Eternal optimist but then saw it is already on your list. Then I wanted Master of invention, but there is already a book on Spielmann with that title.
    My two suggestions:
    Bent Larsen: Renaissance man (especially if the book is not only on chess but also on Bent).
    Bent Larsen: Fighting on the flank/Or: Flank fighter.

  11. “Bent Larsen : lessons from the creative Dane”
    “Creativity and fighting spirit: Bent Larsen games”
    “The romantic Dane”

  12. I vote for “The Fighting Optimist” as mentioned in the blog post.

    “Danish tango on chessboard” would be a funny one mixing his native Denmark and his second country Argentina.

  13. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    For all the suggestions incorporating “Dane”, it’s worth pointing out Larsen lived more of his life in Argentina than in Denmark. In his long-running column in Kaissiber, his byline was “Von Bent Larsen, Argentinien”.

  14. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    I want to question “optimism” as well. Optimism can mean looking on the bright side even to the extent of thinking things are better than the facts warrant. But I see Larsen as an ultra-realist, it’s just that one of the facts he was realistic about was his own great strength. He stated he “wanted to win against grandmasters”, which certainly sounds optimistic, unless you have done done it as many times as Larsen! And when he suffered setbacks he would say it was okay, because he felt fine, and he was going to win the tournament anyway. Optimism? But then he did it! Hort has one such story in the ChessBase site. Another example is his catastrophic loss against Spassky in USSR vs World 1970. How many players could bounce back to defeat Spassky in fighting style in the very next game? Okay not the greatest game, but play through it, it’s clear black is _trying_ to win throughout. So rather than using “optimism” in the title, I would prefer to see something about his great fighting spirit. Maybe it’s only me who thinks both optimism and pessimism are negative traits…

  15. I agree with #54 that “optimist” wrongly implies a kind of foolishness. Since the updated version of Larsen’s own book is called FIGHTING CHESS WITH THE GREAT DANE, maybe something fresher would be more suitable. How about FEARLESS EXPLORER, or simply FEARLESS? It touches on his well known will to win, and his preference for less familiar chess paths.

  16. I’m Argentine, and I lived in Tandil, where Bent Larsen lived his last years. In Spanish, he published two volumes of a work titled “Todas las piezas atacan” — which translated properly is “All Pieces Attack.” Since this was his chosen title for his magnum opus, and is now widely understood as a typical Larsen concept, I think it could be an ideal title. It summarizes, as he himself put it, his entire philosophy and approach to chess.

  17. I like optimism in life and chess. Some chess players tend to be cautious or control-minded, but cautious doesn’t mean wise. I remember Kramnik became over-cautious while training with computers, before liberating his play. So let Larsen be optimist!

  18. This is great news. Marin is one of my favourite authors, Larsen one of my most admired players, because of his fighting spirit, his creativity and his very original approach towards chess. Didn’t he say “if you don’t know, what to do, move your h- or a-pawn?” Well, sounds just like Alpha Zero 40 years or so ahead of the time.

    “Danish dynamite” would be a great title, but unfornately this book already exists, written by Karsten Mueller on the Danish Gambit.

    So I suggest “The friendly fighter”, as far as I know, Bent Larsen must have been a really nice guy. Something which is not that often among top players.

  19. Vaith :
    Hell-Bent on Creative Risk-Taking

    I’ll add this:

    Hell-Bent on Creative Risk Taking: A Closer Look on Best Qualities of Bent Larsen’s Games

  20. Or maybe less is more and a one-word title is sufficient:


    or if you want to be generous:

    “Just Bent” or “100% Bent” (the latter rhimes)

  21. Bent Larsen – My Way (The Life & Games of the Danish Legend)

    Bent Larsen – Win or Die (The Life & Games of the Danish Trailblazer)

    Bent Larsen – The West vs The Best

    Larsen the Great – He Bent the Rules in his will to win.

    Bent Larsen – Understanding the Mind of a Creative Genius

    Surely I win now.

  22. “The Adventures of Bent” or “Bent Adventures”

    (Reminiscent of the children’s book “The Adventures of Bert”)

  23. Viking raider or viking beserker or viking warrior.Something that reflects his heritage & style & it would make great cover art,too.

  24. TD :
    Not happy to see the announced Caro and Dutch books postponed again for a few months. And that’s an understatement…

    You must be new to this blog….you tend to double the original lead time and then wait some. It’s usually worth the wait though ☺️

  25. Some people tend to underestimate what a giant Larsen was. So why not hit them right on the nose? 😉

    Bent Larsen – Fighter and Innovator

    And a slightly funny thing I thought of while typing this:
    Same title, but make it “Harry the h-pawn recommends …”
    Larsen would have been one of Harry’s best friends.

  26. Bent Larsen is a true legend of the game, known for his risky, unorthodox and imaginative play, particularly in his choice of openings and interest in unbalanced positions. So, definitely worth going all-in on this side of his style.

    Bent Larsen – Berzerker Chess
    Bent Larsen – Artist of the Imagination
    Bent Larsen – The Constant Maverick
    Bent Larsen – Perpetual Dynamism
    Bent Larsen – Dynamic Unorthodoxy
    Bent Larsen – The Last Romantic
    Bent Larsen – Icon of the initiative

    The man, the Myths & the magic

    (the myths could explain his role as fischer‘s second & the board 1 thing)

  28. How’s :
    “The great Predecessor Bent Larsen”
    “The great Fighting Spirit of Bent Larsen”
    “The great Games of Bent Larsen”

  29. I think “The Eternal Optimist” is really great honestly. Perhaps it’s because I take Larsen’s impact on the game and my game very seriously, and so for me ‘eternal’ hits very hard. It was a Christmas tradition when I was in college that during the mid-year break I’d lock myself in my basement with his best games collection and other Larsen books. I’d rarely emerge! It has always been a dream of mine to write a white repertoire book, jokingly called “ZOOM 002”. It always seemed to me like that book was mostly Zeuthen, but I enjoy the book and the concept anyway. 🙂

  30. Gerhard Schröder

    I am looking forward to that monography by Mihail Marin on Bent Larsen. The existing books on the Danish prince just don’t cover his later years (after 1976) convincingly. At least I know of no English or German book that does.
    About the title:
    How about “You should pay Benya for the lesson” ? (Kasparov quotes Spassky on Larsen, Garry Kasparov, Part I p.322, Everyman Chess)
    Or just: “The Danish Knight”!!

  31. I, too, like Benjamin Fitch’s “A Creative Bent”. Or maybe it could be
    “A Creative Bent: The Life and Games of Bent Larsen”.

    I don’t like the word “optimist” in the title. Optimism isn’t always good when it becomes unbalanced over-optimism (indeed it then becomes a dirty word). And Bent had his fair share of that, eg leading to his catastrophic 0-6 defeat by Fischer. And his ridiculous claim not too long after that when asked who will be World Champion in 1975 “Me, of course, who else?”. This just loses credibility.

    Let us not get too carried away with Larsen. Even at his best, he was only the fifth best player in the world (despite his rating once or twice being better than that) – Fischer, Spassky, Petrosian and Korchnoi were considerably stronger. Larsen lost matches badly to the first two, and I believe he would also have been handily defeated by the other two had he ever played them in a match; and he had a poor personal score against them.

    And he wasn’t always so “nice” – he could be prickly. For example, he nearly spoiled the USSR-World match in 1970 by saying he would refuse to play unless he was given Board 1 – when everyone “knew” that Fischer was better. Larsen based his claim on his recent “better results” (primarily Palma de Mallorca 1969) “overlooking” his poor results at San Juan 1969 and the final of the 1968 Olympiad.
    So Larsen deprived us of 4 key Fischer-Spassky games at a very interesting time.

    That having been said, he was a fantastic annotator. I learnt more from his book “Larsen’s Best Games 1948-1969” that I did from Fischer’s 60 Memorable Games. The games in it were more interesting and creative, too.
    I look forward to this latest publication.

  32. I knew Bent personally, and I can assure you that he was a very very nice person.
    Fischer was famously difficult. We all know the story about the Interzonal in Tunis where Fischer were making all types of demands about his game against Larsen at the start of the phone call. Larsen was not budging. By the end of the phone call, Fischer realised that he was going to be disqualified from the tournament and was simply begging for the game to be delayed. Larsen had had enough.
    The idea that Fischer should then return and take board one in front of him without playing – which is what Larsen was alluring to – was preposterous. Your historic objections aside.
    Spassky himself claimed that Fischer, Spassky and Larsen were the strongest players at the end of the 1960s. I am happy to include Korchnoi in the list, but Petrosian was already fading. You probably know that Korchnoi was asked to lose at the end of the match to Petrosian, when he said to Soviet officials that no one would succeed in stopping Fischer.

  33. @ Jacob,
    I do not disagree with you that Fischer was extremely difficult – generally much more so than Larsen. Fischer self-sabotaged his run to the World Title to an absurd degree. Had it not been for Benko, Fischer may well never have become World Champion.

    Fischer did play events in 1968, after that 1967 Interzonal – all first places. Meanwhile, in the semi-final of the 1968 Candidates, Larsen was thumped by Spassky 5.5-2.5, including a 3-0 start. It would have been more had Spassky tried full on to win every game like Fischer did.

    Petrosian had a mini-revival after losing the WC Title – he won a very strong USSR Championship in 1969. I do not disbelieve the story that Korchnoi was forced to lose his 1971 Candidates match to Petrosian [though if my memory serves me correctly, Korchnoi never mentioned such in his “Chess is My Life” {1st edition, I haven’t seen the second}, which seems very strange]. Nevertheless, Petrosian put up a far stronger resistance to Fischer in the 1971 Candidates than Larsen did – breaking Fischer’s 20-game winning streak and getting to 2.5-2.5, and should have been ahead. And shortly after losing that match, did quite well in the 1971 Alekhine Memorial tournament in Moscow, coming ahead of both Spassky and Korchnoi and individually beating both of them.
    My belief is that had a Petrosian-Larsen match occurred in 1971, Petrosian would have won by at least 2 points.

    On this particular occasion (USSR vs World 1970), I think Larsen was in the wrong. I’m sure most of the world wanted to see Spassky playing Fischer. At any rate, I know I did, and I was very disappointed when this did not happen.

  34. Maxwell smart your Analyse is correct Petrosian was winning even in the first game!! Larsen was a fine Caro kan player the game against Karpov is a masterpiece by the way when we will see the pdf of the new book wish you al the best in 2021

  35. Larsen got a plus score in USSR v. RoW. I personally don’t see him as a nearly world champion like Korchnoi, but in 1970 nobody was considerably stronger. Or if Fischer was he had yet to prove it.

  36. @ Steve and Hasanovic,

    Larsen was extremely fortunate in the USSR v. RoW match in obtaining his 2.5-1.5 score. Spassky blundered a draw away in the third game by an absurd blunder. And in the fourth game against the reserve, Stein, Larsen was well losing until Stein blundered it away. Fischer’s 3-1 score against Petrosian was not due to any such luck.
    “In 1970, nobody was considerably stronger”. Larsen was last equal at Leiden 1970 (Can you imagine any of Fischer, Spassky, Petrosian or Korchnoi of that period coming last equal in a tournament??). Spassky won that event. Fischer won the 1970 Interzonal 3.5 points ahead of Larsen…

    Larsen did win a couple of very good games against Karpov. But he also lost many more games to him than he won. Similar story vs Petrosian and Korchnoi.

  37. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    @Maxwell Smart – It’s a pleasure to read your strong opinions because they are well considered. I find much to agree with, also some things to disagree with, but this is normal.

    Larsen was great. That’s the bottom line. But the other players you mentioned were also great, nobody can argue. Spassky was the best player of 1968-69. Fischer was the best player of 1970-72. Petrosian, Korchnoi, there are others, it makes me happy just thinking about some of their best games.

    Reading Hort’s stories about USSR v World 1970 (see, it’s clear that all strong players have a lot of pride. Reshevsky and Najdorf were in a dispute about which of them would play on board four. Fischer (!) decided it would be Hort. Funny stuff. Looking forward to the Larsen book. I also rather like “A Creative Bent”.

  38. @An Ordinary Chessplayer
    Thank you much for your comment.

    Thank you for pointing out the Hort stories, I had somehow missed seeing these. Interesting that there were further discussions about the RoW Board Order (other than Fischer/Larsen) just before the event started, and indeed some of it is hilarious.
    I do know that Euwe prematurely sent the Board Order he first decided for RoW to the Soviets, and that the Soviets knowing it then decided theirs to a considerable extent on which players would be personally most unpleasant for the RoW players. Thus for example, Botvinnik was put on a low board so that he would play Matulovic, whom he always beat up to then.
    Euwe had put Fischer on Board 1 and Larsen on Board 2. So Petrosian had prepared to play Larsen. It is said that it came as a shock for him to be playing Fischer and that this contributed to his poor play in the first two games. Euwe had made that original decision partly based on the rating list. These early rating lists cannot have been all that accurate, and to me could have error up to 20 points. But Fischer was 70 points ahead of Larsen on it, and that is something else again.

    Larsen did have some extremely good results in his career, there is no doubt. But rather too frequently, he also had serious failures of a type that Fischer, Spassky, Petrosian and Korchnoi almost never or rarely had. That is the main reason I cannot place him higher than fifth.

    If there are one or two things I said that you disagree with, I am happy to know what they are – I’m always willing to learn if I’ve got something wrong.

    [Almost off topic: Do you know the real story behind Korchnoi supposedly having to throw his 1971 Candidates match to Petrosian? I believe it was Karpov who said this? But Korchnoi doesn’t mention it in his book “Chess is My Life”. One would think he would have complained very loudly in his book about this if he had been forced to throw.]

  39. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    I hope Quality Chess does not mind too much a little side discussion in the comments…

    All I know is when Korchnoi defected he said, “Now they cannot force me to lose any more.” So there must have been numerous occasions. But particularly against Petrosian 1971 it’s news to me.

    Back to Larsen, the answer as to who will be world champion in 1975 was clearly meant to be humorous. It was the flip side of Keres’s reply in 1968, “Well it won’t be me,” (since he had recently failed to make the Candidates). And I think you are overly hard on Larsen for his sometimes poor results. Don’t forget he played much more than these others. If you are not feeling well and play anyway (and still try hard to win!) then poor results will happen. In particular the 0-6 against Fischer was partly because Fischer was better, but partly because Larsen was playing to win every game, even when down 0-5. Comparing this with the start against Petrosian is also unfair, because Fischer had a heavy cold at the start of the Candidates Final. Once Fischer recovered it was over fairly quickly. I do agree Petrosian could have done better than 2.5-2.5, he wasted some nice Soviet teamwork preparation.

  40. @An Ordinary Chessplayer.
    Thank you again for your reply. Your points are fair.

    In his Fischer match, Larsen also said he was affected by the heat, though presumably the playing venue and his hotel room would have been air-conditioned. Perhaps a “fair” result of this match would have been 6-2 or 5.5-1.5. Taimanov, too, should have scored at least one point.

    I’m not sure Larsen played that much more than the Soviets. They were forced to play in many internal team events, often when they didn’t want to. In addition, they were not free agents in deciding which tournaments they wanted, or not, to play in.
    Korchnoi in particular probably played as much as Larsen. Spassky and Petrosian less so while they were World Champion. Fischer considerably less (apart from 1970-1), and it didn’t seem to do him much harm.

    Re world champion in 1975 comment: Possibly you are right, I’d have to check the comment (which I don’t have immediate access to) and its context. But when I read it at the time, it didn’t really feel he was talking in jest, it felt like he was actually serious; or else “many a true word spoken in jest”.
    Part of the reason for thinking this was that Larsen had made similar sorts of comments in the years before the Fischer match, he seemed to be serious in thinking he was the world’s best player and should be World Champion.
    I was around at the time and it just felt he was being a little bit flakey. We all felt at the time that Fischer was a really serious threat to the WC title, whereas nobody regarded Larsen as likely to take that Title from the Soviets.
    Hence the disappointment when it was Larsen and not Fischer who got to play top Board and Spassky. Anyway, that was how it felt at the time before having the hindsight of Fischer’s 6-0 win in 1971. In view of that result, it would seem we were right.

  41. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    Another excellent title suggestion was the early one by Jeremy Hart, “Bent Larsen – Aiming Straight for the Win”.

    Probably Larsen’s best years were 1964-66, around 30 years old. Of course at that time Petrosian was still incredibly strong and Spassky was becoming so. Later I believe Larsen’s health was not the greatest but of course professionals don’t like to talk about such things for fear of giving aid to the enemy. As for being affected by the heat, I can well believe it for two reasons. (1) He said so. (2) I know it affects my play, because I like to take my exercise outside, and too much heat means my body doesn’t recover in time for the game. Or if the weather is bad enough then I don’t get any exercise and my play likewise suffers. Benko said the most (sic) important thing for a professional was to develop a tournament routine. Of course it’s not the _most_ important, but once a player has reached a certain level then non-chess factors start to dominate the short term performance.

  42. A lot of (almost all) the arguments about the team selection in 1970 are about what happened during or after the match.

    Fischer had not played for over a year. Larsen had a reasonable right to claim board 1. Show me someone who is a pushover in those situations and I will show you someone who never made it to the top of a sport. Even the nicest athlete is a beast when it comes to negotiations. They are natural winners…

    Larsen was many people’s favourite person. Including a lot of the big names mentioned here.

    Larsen had big weaknesses. The main one was that match play just did not suit his style. Some strong players are not progressing to the top because of the system not working for them. Aronian never came close to the World Championship match, despite being no 2 for a long time. MVL never qualified for the Candidates, but is now leading it.
    Larsen lost 6-0 because he made no draws. He was a strong counter-attacker and defender. To belittle these strengths just show a bias.

  43. “Larsen had a reasonable right to claim board 1”. Then Larsen should make his case and allow Euwe and the others to decide. But Larsen issued an ULTIMATUM. He said he would refuse to play at all (thus basically destroying any chance the RoW might have) if he wasn’t given Board 1. That is not a reasonable negotiation tactic.

    I don’t think Fischer not having played for a year was such a big deal. He had had such periods before and always came back just as strong or stronger. Like Lasker. Taking a year off doesn’t destroy your innate playing strength.
    You had not been born at the time of the match, so you cannot really understand the ‘vibe’ that there was at the time. The ‘vibe’ was that Fischer was a really serious WC possibility and Larsen was not. Most likely, Larsen understood this too if he was honest and thus knew his case was weak. Hence the ultimatum.

    I do not belittle Larsen’s strengths. In general, I consider Larsen’s attitude to the game to be most commendable. It’s just that Fischer was always stronger. End of story.

    And in general, I liked Larsen as a person. Larsen himself was wronged on occasions, such as with the 1973 Leningrad Interzonal, as you have pointed out in the past, and I agree with.
    But on this particular occasion, I think Larsen’s ‘negotiation tactic’ was not reasonable and he showed himself to be less than a perfect human being.

  44. @Maxwell Smart
    It is rather hilarious that you manage to create a narrative where Fischer is the guy who selfishly makes sure the event goes ahead, while the player who has been the strongest player for the last year and had had enough of Fischer’s antics and special treatment. As already explained at length. It is not a narrative most people will agree with.

    I don’t think Larsen was at all realistic about his own place in the pecking order either. Do you think Nepomniachtchi believes anyone else is stronger than him in the World besides Carlsen? There has always been overly optimistic players around.

    Regarding their match in Dallas. Larsen suffered immensely in the heat, but apparently Fischer loved it. However, Larsen also had a great talent for coming with excuses!

  45. @Jacob
    I think I made it quite clear that my “narrative” was for this single event only, and not in general. I acknowledged your point about the 1967 Interzonal, and in no way do I condone Fischer’s behaviour at several other events. His behaviour in the 1972 World Championship at Reykjavik totally disgusted me.

    Larsen was not the strongest active player in 1969, Spassky was (and won the Oscar, thus). Spassky won the World Championship that year and was 2.5 points ahead of Larsen in San Juan. At Palma de Mallorca, Spassky was openly not trying to win, drawing 14 of 17 games.

    As said, if Larsen thought he had a case for Board 1, then present it and let the Team Captain in consultation with the other players decide. But instead, he issued an ULTIMATUM. You have not addressed this point.

  46. @Maxwell Smart
    You continue to bash Larsen for god knows what reason. Let’s take a look at the facts. Larsen played like a monster in 69. Fischer expected to walk into the team because of his higher rating, but the fact is that anything could have happened to his game in the year gap. The safe bet was to play Larsen on the top board simply on the weight of his performances the year before. He had proved himself. He had every right to play on the top board. Fischer on the other hand…not so much.

    It’s ok to be a Fischer fan. But not ok to oversee that apart from chess Bobby doesn’t inspire. Larsen on the other hand did a lot for the game as well. So stop insulting one of the legends of the game.

  47. @Maxwell Smart

    Maybe Spassky was stronger than Larsen in 1969, maybe not.
    I do not get your argument here.
    It does not matter, because Spassky played board one, as Larsen did.
    Fischer had not played at all in 1969.

  48. Looking forward to the Bent Larsen book.

    My suggestions

    Bent Larsen
    Champion of Tournement Chess

    Bent Larsen
    Originality in Chess

  49. @A Super Talent
    You obviously didn’t read my posts very well.

    “You continue to bash Larsen for god knows what reason”. Not sure which part of the word “ultimatum” you don’t understand.
    In fact, overall I liked Larsen. I have queried his behaviour on this one occasion only. And continue to do so. On this occasion, it was unacceptable and threatened to derail the match. It was very aggravating at the time.

    “It’s ok to be a Fischer fan.” Had you read my posts properly, it is obvious that I am not (certainly not since 1972). However, his enormous playing strength, considerably higher than Larsen’s, is undeniable.

    “Larsen played like a monster in 1969”. Some of the time, only. But there was also San Juan – Larsen 6-7= in a moderate field, 2.5 points behind Spassky. Did Fischer ever have results like this? Not since 1960, when aged 17; maybe Curacao 1962 in a much stronger field, and still aged only 19. Fischer would have been utterly embarrassed with a result like this, and it would have been a major sensation.

    “The safe bet was to play Larsen on top board”. In fact, it was an extremely risky bet. Larsen had a dreadful record against Spassky including losses at both Palma de Mallorca 1969 and San Juan 1969, as well as his 2.5-5.5 match loss in 1968, etc.

    Once again, if Larsen thought he had a case, then present it to the Team Captain for consideration. But Larsen didn’t do this. Instead he issued an ultimatum, insisting on top Board whether he deserved it or not. That is not acceptable behaviour.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything unreasonable here.

  50. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    RE “Ultimatum” – Maybe Larsen decided to get his ultimatum in before Fischer’s? It seems to have worked. The Soviets possibly also learned this from Larsen(!), cf. their negotiations in 1975. As Jacob pointed out above, the ultimatum charge is a little hollow considering how often Fischer did it.

    RE “San Juan” – Was San Juan in October 1969 too hot for Larsen?
    Average Weather in October in San Juan Puerto Rico:
    Daily high temperatures are around 88°F, rarely falling below 84°F or exceeding 91°F.
    Daily low temperatures are around 77°F, rarely falling below 74°F or exceeding 80°F.
    Sorry for the Fahrenheit scale. Denmark would be about 25°F/14°C cooler at that time of year. I don’t know if Larsen still was based in Denmark in 1969. But if Dallas affected him in 1971, why not San Juan in 1969?

  51. @An Ordinary Chessplayer
    Fischer didn’t have to “get in his ultimatum first”. Euwe had announced his RoW Board order with Fischer 1, Larsen 2 somewhat earlier (indeed, he was criticised for prematurely giving it to the Soviets before they had announced theirs) without any special pressure from Fischer. If Larsen was unhappy with this order, why did he not protest when it was first announced, thus giving time to sort the issue out? Why did he wait until all the players had assembled in Belgrade and then make his ultimatum at the last minute?

    [And just because Fischer “did it” doesn’t make it right for others to do so. But in fact, apart from the WC in 1972 and the 1967 Interzonal, Fischer didn’t in fact put the organisers in a spot like this very often. What he did have was a long list of demands that he said organisers had to meet if he was to play. Then it was up to the organisers if they were willing to meet them before saying he would play. That is somewhat different from the situation here.]

    Larsen makes no mention of the heat being a problem in San Juan. I believe the heat in the Dallas heatwave was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit – somewhat hotter.
    Spassky, coming from a colder climate than Larsen, seemed to have no problem with the heat – he ran away with the tournament.

    [Fahrenheit scale fine with me. I was brought up with it and still can’t really think in Celsius terms!]

  52. Just to bring a different angle into the discussion: I had always thought Fischer himself was not completely adverse to the idea of playing modestly on board two. Deep inside he might have still not felt ready for facing Spassky in a (mini-) match. Considering he had never beaten Spassky until then but lost more than once. Only after his rather convincing run through the elimination phase he finally felt ready for the clash. And still then he needed this little extra push to finally make it to the starting line in Reykjavík.
    So maybe rather Larsen was afraid that Fischer would refuse to play had they forced him to take board one!?

  53. Ha, that’s a funny one. Actually, it was Fischer’s interest in playing in this match that brought him out of his 18 month non-playing period.
    Euwe had of course had Fischer listed as Board 1 for some time, and Fischer certainly hadn’t threatened to withdraw because of it!

    Fischer wanted to play Spassky. At that particular time Fischer was out of the 1969-1972 WC cycle as he had refused to play in the 1969 US Championship, which was a Zonal tournament; and Benko conceding his Interzonal place to him had not happened at that stage. So it’s not like Fischer thought he’d be playing Spassky in 1972. So if he didn’t play him now, how could he know if and when he ever would!?

    He was not afraid of him. He had no particular reason to be – although his score against him at the time was +0-2=2 [the loss at the 1970 Olympiad was later in the year], one of the losses was the famous King’s Gambit game where Spassky was busted. So on the run of play, it should have been +1-1=2. In other words, Spassky had hardly dominated him to that point.

    Fischer possibly felt a little uncertain because he hadn’t played for 18 months (apart from 1 club game in 1969), but I don’t think that had a hugely significant bearing.
    The fact is, Fischer wanted the Soviets beaten! And the chances of this happening if Larsen withdrew were about zero. This is the main reason Fischer conceded Board 1.

    As concerns 1972 WC match in Reykjavik, I think Fischer would have been more grounded had he played 4 games with Spassky here. Fischer’s antics really spoiled that match.

    More or less everyone at the time wanted to see Fischer play Spassky in that USSR -RoW event, and Larsen deprived us of that.
    To me, it’s the most annoying thing he ever did.

  54. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    “To me, it’s the most annoying thing he ever did.” Well thanks for explaining why you go on at length about it. Pretty sure not many share your depth of feeling. To me it’s slightly ironic, mildly humorous, arguably defensible.

    I just picked up a used copy of Marin’s _A Spanish Repertoire for Black_. A great book! On page 48 he says, “What would be even more interesting to know is the whole process of Kholmov’s thinking before coming up with his next move.” This about 16…c4! Well, this was revealed on, although I can’t find the article again when I search for it. The “whole process” (sic) was that Smyslov showed it to Kholmov the night before the game when Kholmov was drunk, and Kholmov was a little panicked that he might not remember correctly at the board. So one of Smyslov’s novelties was given away, but for a necessary cause, and in the end Smyslov finished a crucial 1/2 point ahead of Fischer (and Ivkov, and Geller).

    Anyway, the Spanish book is fantastic, really looking forward to the Larsen book as well. Please let us know how the title selection is going.

  55. “Pretty sure not many share your depth of feeling”. Well, that would be because most around now were not around at the time, so haven’t had real time experience of the situation. I was, and I’m pretty sure that a lot who were around at the time felt the same way. Fischer, not Larsen, was regarded as THE only guy who could take the WC Title from the Soviets and everyone was hugely interested to see him play a mini-match with the World Champion. It was not a popular action by Larsen.

    Anyway, I’ve argued my case from the facts, and if certain people don’t like the truth that those facts produce, that’s their problem.

  56. ‘Truth produced from facts’ haha, that’s hillarious. Trump can learn a thing or two from this kind of logic 🙂 . It’s ok to have an opinion, but it’s not ok to present opinions as truths.

  57. If you like. Facts are truths and thus produce an overall truth narrative. Draw your own conclusions from it.
    The facts and therefore the truth is that Larsen out of the blue presented an ultimatum on the eve of the event.
    Even though he had been aware of the situation weeks before (eg the Soviets had been given the Board order by Euwe, and thus Petrosian made serious preparations to meet Larsen).

    My opinion from those facts/truth is that the action of presenting an ultimatum was unacceptable; the nature of it was unacceptable; and the timing of it was unacceptable. And that therefore this was unacceptable behaviour.

    Is it acceptable behaviour to you?

  58. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    @Hasanovic – Your wish is my command. I could reply to this topic probably “forever”, it’s genuinely interesting. But to respect your wish, not another peep about Larsen on this blog, at least not from me. After say six months I reserve the right to post again about Larsen. Hopefully six months from now, unlike last year, the health department will allow me to go on my annual family vacation, and Larsen will be far from my thoughts.

  59. According to the new 2021 Catalogue it’s “Learn from Bent Larsen”. If my search was correct, it’s not from this thread. But may I modestly add that I feel like my proposal from December 21st, 2020 came closest!?

    Peter :
    My second proposal:
    Learn from the Legend: Bent Larsen

    1. I think there is a strong argument for that. I will let John know!

      The final title is mine. And as yours, a complete rip-off…

  60. Finally Mihal Marin is doing what he is REALLY GOOD: Books about conceptual things, selected games. I don´t think he is even decent as an author of openings these days. (His recent work on the Nimzo and Bogo Indian is an very clear example, but not the only ones..) He is not very objective in his opening articles, to say the least. But in his works about conceptual themes, he is maybe the best author in the world. Vey happy news for chess, and for me.

  61. @Thomas

    I hope so, been looking forward to it since the 2021 catalogue dropped. Hopefully all will be clear once the 2022 catalogue is published soon?!

    Also, have to disagree with #152 above. In my view Marin is one of the absolute best authors writing today, I buy everything he releases, even on openings I have no interest in playing. I am of the opinion that if he is of such quality, that if he has taken the time to write something, every decent chess player should make time to read it.

    The same goes for Jacob. It’s a small club at the top!

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