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
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?!
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
12. Nh3 Qxh4
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
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.
- 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?
- 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.
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!
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.