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Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The US Chess League is prospering as it has increased to 18 teams in three divisions this year. At this writing, it has been in operation for some six weeks now.  The Boston Blitz has all of 1.5 match points out of a possible 6 and the N.E. Nor’easters are trailing them by a full point, with only one drawn match. Certainly with the Blitz, the results are hard to explain. Their three leading players are very impressive: veteran GM Eugene Perelshteyn, 2554; youngster IM Sam Sevian, 2487; and IM Marc Esserman, 2544. The Nor’easters are not quite as strong, but still their top three boards are formidable: Alexander Ivanov, 2590; David Vigorito, 2499; and Mika Brattain, 2412.

The Nor’easters ran into an agonizing monotony of close losses, falling by the score of 1.5-2.5 in four of their six matches; these were against the Philadelphia Inventors, the New Jersey Knockouts, the New York Knights, and the San Francisco Mechanics.


Our attention to the US Chess League is perhaps diverted by the arrival of a new splendid and ample volume: “Bent Larsen’s Best Games” (New in Chess, 2014). The 350 pages of this work function not only as an annotation of 124 of his finest games but also as a biography of a great Grandmaster. We are surprised that we never saw a collection of his games in English before.

Bent Larsen was born in Denmark shortly before World War II. He graduated from engineering school in his youth but spent much of the time studying chess and chose it as a permanent career despite the meager chances in those days of making a decent living from the game. There were no prominent Danish players to tutor him, but he was completely satisfied to teach himself; to work alone.

Aside from Bobby Fischer, who might or might not play, Larsen was the one foreign player who could frequently come ahead of the Russians in famous tournaments, including Tigran Petrosian, Effim Geller, and even Mikhail Botvinnik.


Larsen played first board when the Russians challenged and defeated the “Rest of the World” in 1970, with, surprisingly, the consent of Fischer, who willingly occupied second board. Unlike Fischer, Larsen acted with even keel, and in the last chapter, he tells how he sort of baby-sat Fischer as his second in the Candidates’ tournament in 1961 in Bled, Yugoslavia, where Fischer finished in second place without losing a game.

We recall Larsen as a gentleman with a pleasant sense of humor who bewildered opponents by playing 19th-century openings with marked success and even wrote happily of the Philidor defense. He had the misfortune of being in the same generation as Fischer, to whom he lost a match to qualify for the world championship by a 6-0 score, which must have been a traumatic experience for him.

Brevity:  Y.Yu vs. S.Hanninger 2007 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 0–0 8.0–0 Nc6 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 a6 11.a4 b6 12.Qe3 Rb8 13.Rad1 Qc7 14.e5 Ng4 15.exd6 exd6 16.Bxg4 Bxg4 17.Bxg7 Rfe8 18.Qh6; 1-0

Winners: Newburyport CC September Swiss:
1st, John Elmore, 3.5-0.5, 2d, Ron Burris, 3-1; Boylston G/80: 1st, Nithin Kavi, 3.0, 2d-3d, Eric Godin, Jerry Williams, 2-1.

Coming Events: Larry Christiansen Simul,
Oct. 21, South Station, 700 Atlantic Ave., Boston; Greater Boston Open, Oct. 26, Best Western, 181 Boston Post Road, West Marlborough,