“Larsen’s Beach”: A fun sideline in the Nimzo-Larsen Attack

I’ve made no secret of my love of 1.b3 and the fun entertaining games that can arise from this quirky (but theoretically sound!) opening.  Here at the Bristol Chess Times, several of us have been playing with a spiky variation of the opening this season.  However, recently our opponents have been counter attacking (how unsporting of them!) leading to messy unbalanced positions.  In honour of the Somerset New Year Congress based in the seaside town of Clevedon where we recently played this line, we have affectionately nicknamed the variation “Larsen’s Beach”. Lets take a deeper look…

The starting position of the variation begins with Black adopting a conservative formation with his white squared bishop, f6 knight and a small centre. Here is the opening moves:

1. b3 d5

2. Bb2 Bf5

3. e3 Nf6

4. Be2 e6

5. g4?!

LB1

Hence my reference to a spiky variation.  This is not a new or unique position having been played four times according to ChessBase. Until recently all my opponents in this line were retreating to g6 and then a swift h4 led to a strong attack for white.  However, twice this season the Bristol Chess Times have experienced the following counter attack:

5. g4 Be4

6. f3 Nxg4?!

LB2

This is the starting position of what we are calling “Larsen’s Beach“. There are two lines we have explored.  Line #1 was explored by yours truly last weekend whilst the superior Line #2 was played by Mike Harris at the October Chipping Sodbury Rapidplay

Line #1: 7. h4

In both my game and the only game I could find in ChessBase, Black attempted Bd6 leading to the following:

7. h4 Bd6

8. pxe4 Bg3+

9. Kf1 Nf2

10. Qc1 Nxh1

11.Kg2?! dxe

12. Nh3 Qxh4

13. Qxh1

LB3

A ridiculous position has been reached by move 13 and I’m sure most White players are unhappy with what has been achieved.  My point is that it is actually fine for white and if you know “Larsen’s Beach” you are likely to have a large lead on the clock in these unbalanced positions.  It should be noted that the computer now evaluates this position as roughly even at 0.29.

I actually didn’t make this position in my game, instead trying the unsound 12. Bg4 and ultimately the loss of material (and the game).  As an alternative to h4, Mike Harris ventured the interesting 7. Kf1.

Line #2: Kf1

In my opinion a more sensible plan, avoiding the incoming checks and giving a better square for whites queen.

7. Kf1 Qh4

8. Qe1 Nxh2+

9. RxN QxR

10. pxe4 pxe4

LB4

Again not exactly a position that most white players aspire for from the opening but still a fun and unbalanced game lies ahead with white having bishop and knight vs. rook and three pawns.  The computer gives white as 0.49 in this position.

In our analysis here at the Bristol Chess Times there are two things to note in this position.

  1. Although it is roughly equal, is it one of those positions that is easier for one side to play than another?  For example, computers might be happy with White but how do humans feel about this?
  2. We chose the name “Larsen’s Beach” in honour of both Clevedon but also the wave of black pawns that are about to start crashing down on the kingside.

Conclusion

So there we are!  Personally I love to play chess like this but I appreciate it is not for everyone.  The key for us is that despite how aggressive this black counter attack looks, we believe that white is fine in “Larsen’s Beach“, particularly in the 7. Kf1 lines.

Could this also be the first variation named in honour of Clevedon, UK?  We hope so!

For all you aspiring Nimzo Larsen Attack players out there we hope you find this line both interesting and fun!


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

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