The Fabulous 70s, Overview and The Larsen Simul

One of the goals of the 70s installments is to provide “lost” game scores – games that never made it (until now) into electronic chess databases. In the installments that follow, I will provide plenty of these “lost” games versus titled players of all ilk. Including some who no longer walk the earth, such as Gruchacz, Burger,and other luminaries of yore.

You can replay the game collection here!  (new feature).

In 1974 GM Bent Larsen came to Thomas Circle in Washington DC to give a simul. Since I was from Bethesda, MD (a neighboring town), this was a good chance to get my dad to drive me in to play the affable Danish GM.

When I got to the playing hall, I noticed the boards were all set up so that his opponents would all have the black pieces. But I wanted to play white! In a rather bold “move”, I asked Bent if it would be OK if I got the white pieces. I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but I got my wish. Perhaps he alternated W and B on all the boards of the simul (which was probably in the 30-50 range) – that is the part I don’t know. The important thing is that I got to move first. What a nice guy!

Here is the game.

15 year old Mark Ginsburg (“A” Player) – GM Bent Larsen

Simul, Thomas Circle, Washington DC, 1974.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O Bb6 7. Re1

Yes, I am playing lethargically, but I was afraid of blundering! 7…O-O 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 Kh7?! This looks a little slow.

Black could have tried here 9…g5 10.Nxg5 (10.Bg3 Na5 11.Bb5 g4 12.Nh4 Nh5 13.b4 Nc6 14.Nd2 Qf6 15.Qe2 is about equal ) 10…hxg5 11.Bxg5 Kg7 12.Qf3 Rh8 13.Nd2 Be6 14.Bd5 Qe7 15.Nc4 and the game toddles on, but black is fine.

10.Nbd2 Now white has a small plus.


10…g5 10…Bg4 is playable with a likely response being 11. h3.

11.Bg3 Qe7?!

Again this looks a bit slow. Black can try 11…g4! 12.Nh4 Nh5 for example with sharp play.

12.Nf1 White has the interesting try 12.Bd5!? here as well.

12…Rg8 13.Ne3 h5? 14.h4! Ng4?

Larsen’s famous optimism leads to a disaster. The sacrificial idea introduced on moves 13 and 14 is simply unsound. He was probably just trying to kill people fast to get the simul over with. The most accurate annotation is to attach a single “??” to the combination of black’s 13th and 14th.

15.Nxg5+ Rxg5 16.Nd5! A witty zwischenzug! More than just gaining time, White eliminates the all-important black bishop on b6 as well. Black is thrown back and white remains up material in a clear position, i.e. no counter-play to worry about.


16Qd8 17.hxg5 Qxg5 18.Nxb6 axb6 19.Qc1! Qg6 20.Bh4 Bd7 21.Qg5!

White found the accurate sequence on moves 19 to 21 and now it will be smooth sailing without the queens on the board.

21…Qxg5 22.Bxg5

Now, although I had a hard time believing it, I was already completely winning! Now it became a nervous affair to see if I could get the job done.

22…Kg6 23.Bh4 Na5 24.Bd5 c6 25.Bb3 f5?! This makes it easier.

26.Be7 White sneaks behind to pick up a weak pawn.


Nothing helps. For example, 26…Nxb3 27.axb3 Rxa1 28.Rxa1 fxe4 29.dxe4 d5 30.f3 Ne3 31.Bd8 b5 32.Bb6 and it’s all over.

27.Bxd6 Kf6 28.Bd1 c5 29.Bc7 b5 30.Bb6 c4 31.d4 Nc6 32.f3

Using the youthful technique of relentless hounding of pawns, White has managed to set up a really pleasing pawn center! Now it is “even more winning” (even for a kid with no experience whatsoever playing strong players) and I manage to get the job done, with only a few shaky moments from here on out.

32…Nh6 33.d5 Ne7 34.Be2 h4 35.Kf2 Nf7 36.b3 h3 37.gxh3 Ng5 38.Bf1 Rh8 39.bxc4 bxc4 40.Bg2 Ng6 41.h4 Nh3+ 42.Bxh3 Bxh3 43.Rh1 Bd7 44.h5 Nf8 45.Bd8+ Kf7 46.Bc7 Kf6 47.Rag1 b5 48.Rb1 Rh7 49.Bd6 Rf7 50.Bxf8 Rxf8 51.h6 b4 52.cxb4 c3 53.h7 1-0


Black resigns. Quite a thrill for a little kid! For readers who don’t equate little and 6′ 4″, I didn’t really start growing until the following year. Bent recovered from this shock/horror to win handily the fairly strong Swiss that was held the same weekend. I will need reader help here – I know he defeated someone strong to win the event and I need the name of the event.


One Response to “The Fabulous 70s, Overview and The Larsen Simul”

  1. Steve Mayer Says:

    I believe Larsen won the D.C. tournament over a Dutchmen. Was it Bohm? If not Bohm, was it Ree?

    Hans Bohm was indeed at the “big money” tournament in Ocean City, Maryland 1974. A famous tournament organized by Tony Christ where a hurricane hit the beach town and blew in the convention center (playing site) glass panes near the front door. I played in this ill-fated event (Tony did not pay out most of the prizes) and Bohm was there, clad head to toe in denim. I remember Bohm giving “impossible” time odds (5 to 1) to various masters; similar to Dzindzi doing the same thing in Lone Pine to stronger opponents. But did Bohm stay in the US from Labor Day 1972 to this summer 1974 event in Ocean City on a barnstorming tour? Hmmm. Someone will have to ask him!

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