Once when I was reading a book from Kasparov he quoted that most of the modern ideas in the semi-Slav came from Larsen games. Does anyone know good novelties that Larsen brings in this opening?

1 Answer 1


Kasparov in My Great Predecessors, Part 4:

Generally speaking, Larsen's contribution to the development of opening theory is not very great, since usually he aimed to lure his opponents into little-studied variations and mainly relied on his skill in the middlegame. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the development of what is currently one of the most popular lines in the Semi-Slav Defence, the so-called improved Meran Variation: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5 e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dc4 7.Bc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7!?

One of Larsen's ideas was to allow a check on b5 and give up castling rights. In return he got a strong knight on d5. He first used this idea in the Candidate match Ivkov-Larsen 1965, see game below. Read more about it here.

Sample games:

  [FEN ""]
  [Event "Larsen-Ivkov Candidates Quarterfinal Match"]
  [Site "Bled YUG"]
  [Date "1965.07.05"]
  [EventDate "1965.06.27"]
  [Round "6"]
  [Result "1/2-1/2"]
  [White "Borislav Ivkov"]
  [Black "Bent Larsen"]
  1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4
  b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.e4 b4 10.Na4 c5 11.e5 Nd5 12.Nxc5 Bxc5 13.dxc5
  Nxc5 14.Bb5+ Kf8 15.Qd4 Qb6 16.Be2 h6 17.O-O g6 18.Bd2 Kg7
  19.Rac1 Rac8 20.Qh4 g5 21.Qg4 Ne4 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.Qxe4 Nf4
  24.Qe3 Qxe3 25.fxe3 Nxe2+ 26.Kf2 g4 27.Ng1 Nxg1 28.Rc1 Rxc1
  29.Bxc1 Bxg2 30.Kxg1 Bd5 31.Bd2 Bxa2 32.Bxb4 Kg6 33.Kf2 Kf5
  34.Bc3 h5 35.Kg3 Kg5 36.h4+ Kf5 37.Bd4 a5 38.Bc3 a4 39.Bd4 Ke4
  40.Kf2 1/2-1/2


  [FEN ""]
  [Event "1/4"]
  [Site "Cm  Las Palmas (06)"]
  [Date "1971.??.??"]
  [Round "6"]
  [Result "0-1"]
  [White "Wolfgang Uhlmann"]
  [Black "Bent Larsen"]
  [ECO "D47"]

  1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4
  b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.e4 b4 10.Na4 c5 11.e5 Nd5 12.Nxc5 Nxc5 13.dxc5
  Bxc5 14.Bb5+ Ke7 15.O-O Qb6 16.Bd3 h6 17.Qe2 Rhd8 18.Bd2 Kf8
  19.Rac1 Rac8 20.Rc2 a5 21.Rfc1 Kg8 22.h3 Ne7 23.Ne1 Bd4
  24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Rxc8+ Nxc8 26.b3 Ne7 27.Nf3 Bc5 28.Be1 Nf5
  29.Kf1 Qc6 30.Bb5 Qc7 31.Bd3 Nd4 32.Nxd4 Bxd4 33.f4 Qc1 34.Qd2
  Qa1 35.Qc2 Bc3 36.Qb1 Ba6 0-1
  • There is something odd with the variation in the Kasparov quote : 6...Bb7 is illegal. Should it be 6.Bd3 dc4 7.Bc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7!? ?
    – Evargalo
    Sep 27, 2021 at 11:08
  • Yes, you are correct. Sep 27, 2021 at 12:26
  • 3
    Something happened to the first game. It doesn't show properly on my screen. Sep 27, 2021 at 12:57
  • 1
    It is weird because the preview when editing shows both games correctly.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 27, 2021 at 14:32
  • 1
    @Evargalo That is very strange - I see that as well. Looks like a bug in something to me - but don't ask me what.
    – Ian Bush
    Sep 27, 2021 at 15:25

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