Bent Larsen: 20 Questions


Bent Larsen

© Mark Huba

What is your earlier memory of playing chess?

I was six, and a boy two years older than me taught me the rules. In one of our first games he got king and two rooks against my bare king and forced me to the edge of the board.


What is your most memorable game?

Difficult to choose. Maybe against Bernstein, on his 72nd birthday in the Amsterdam Olympiad, 1954.


What was your worst defeat?

Against Spassky in 19 moves, Belgrade 1970.


Who is your all-time chess hero?



How do you relax?

Reading or listening to music. Or writing chess columns.


What is your greatest fear?

The dentist.


Who is your favourite band/composer?



What is your favourite record?

‘64’, or whatever the title is, with the lines: ‘send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view’.


What do you consider to be your greatest weakness as a chess player?

No respect for authority.


What is your greatest strength?

No respect for authority.


What is your most unappealing habit?

I don’t think I have any unappealing habits. (Ask my wife)


Which book would you take to a desert island?

London 1883 or some other old tournament book.


What are your five favourite chess books?

Nimzowitsch – My System

Keres – Selected Games

Steinitz – New York 1889

Munninghoff – Hein Donner

Arman – Marcel Duchamp Plays and Wins.


How would you characterize your chess-playing style?



What is your favourite television programme?

TV: a good soccer game. Or tennis.


What is your greatest extravagance?

The way I have moved between continents.


Against which player do you have the worst results?

Against Kasparov and Ljubojevic.


What was your most embarrassing moment at the chessboard?

I touched my knight, intending a very bad move. Then I discovered what was wrong. That was embarrassing. But I still made the move, instead of Nf3-e1. That was incredibly stupid. (Against Bobotsov in a Beverwijk tournament.)



In which particular tournament do you most like to compete?

All-play-alls with good conditions and an enthusiastic public.


Who is the most irritating opponent you have faced?

Gheorghiu, offering draws beforehand.


Who is the most courteous person you have played?

Many come to mind. For instance, Norman-Hansen (1899–1984), who scored 80% in London 1927. He did not want to have the advantage of the sealed move and always revealed it to his opponent.


What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Think before you speak or make a move.



First published in Kingpin 30 (Spring 1999)


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