How to tame the Dragon! ⎸Bobby Fischer vs Bent Larsen (Portoroz 1958)

Learn how to crush the Sicilian Dragon (Bobby Fischer style)! Bobby was only 15 years old when he played this super-precise attacking masterpiece against Larsen.

Robert James Fischer vs Bent Larsen, Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation, Yugoslav Attack B77
1958 Portorož Interzonal Tournament, Round 8

The Portorož Interzonal was a 21-player round robin which was to determine six players who would qualify for the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates Tournament (to decide the challenger to Mikhail Botvinnik, who was the world champion at the time). Along with Bobby Fischer and Bent Larsen, many other chess geniuses competed; Tal, Benko, Petrosian, Gligorić…

Fischer made the six who qualified for the candidates, which was an astonishing accomplishment for a 15 year old (who’d only just recently become a grandmaster), considering how much experience and prestige the other players had. He scored 12/20, finishing in 6th place. Bent Larsen didn’t qualify. For comparison, Mikhail Tal, who finished in clear first, had only 1.5 points more than Fischer.

Here are the final standings of the Portorož Interzonal:

Mikhail Tal 13.5/20
Svetozar Gligoric 13/20
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian 12.5/20
Pal Benko 12.5/20
Fridrik Olafsson 12/20
Robert James Fischer 12/20
David Bronstein 11.5/20
Yuri Averbakh 11.5/20
Aleksandar Matanovic 11.5/20
Laszlo Szabo 11.5/20
Ludek Pachman 11.5/20
Oscar Panno 11/20
Miroslav Filip 11/20
Raul Sanguineti 10/20
Oleg Neikirch 9.5/20
Bent Larsen 8.5/20
James T Sherwin 7.5/20
Hector Decio Rossetto 7/20
Rodolfo Tan Cardoso 6/20
Boris De Greiff 4.5/20
Geza Fuster 2/20 ;( (Fuster was only awarded the IM title in ’69, so he wasn’t really fit to compete with some of the chess geniuses ranked above)

This game was played in rd.8 of the tournament. Bobby opened with his favorite 1.e4, and Larsen chose the fighting Sicilian Defense. And not just any variation, but the super-aggressive Dragon (which was very risky against Fischer). Larsen chose a slightly uncommon line, but they still followed the common plan for both sides – attacking your opponent’s king as soon as possible. White castles on the queenside, black on the kingside, and who ever crashes through sooner (usually) wins.

The precision with which Bobby played gave Bent no room for mistakes. He made only two. That was enough to lose control of the position and give Bobby just enough room to position his pieces optimally and push his kingside pawns up the board and smash through black’s defenses.

The game ended in only 31 moves, with Larsen resigning six moves before an unavoidable checkmate.

More games by Bobby Fischer:

Game moves:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7
7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Bb3 Qa5
12. O-O-O b5 13. Kb1 b4 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. Bxd5 Rac8 16. Bb3 Rc7
17. h4 Qb5 18. h5 Rfc8 19. hxg6 hxg6 20. g4 a5 21. g5 Nh5
22. Rxh5 gxh5 23. g6 e5 24. gxf7+ Kf8 25. Be3 d5 26. exd5 Rxf7
27. d6 Rf6 28. Bg5 Qb7 29. Bxf6 Bxf6 30. d7 Rd8 31. Qd6+ 1-0


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