‘Chess is my profession. I am my own boss; I am free. I like literature and music, classical especially. I am in fact quite normal; I have a Bohemian profession without being myself a Bohemian. I am neither a conformist nor a great revolutionary’.
I am neither a conformist nor a great revolutionary’
- This sentence almost sums up what some might consider the essence of Danish mentality. Yet Danish chess-legend Bent Larsen (1935-2010) was actually quite a revolutionary – at least where chess was concerned.
Early on his style was described as unorthodox, while at the same time many considered him to be the first western player to pose a serious challenge to the players of the Soviet Union. One of Larsen´s tricks was to take up forgotten chess-openings and renew them in radical ways that would often come as a complete surprise to his opponents.
Larsen beat all seven World Champions who held the title from 1948 to 1985, including Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Yet he never made it further than the semi-finals in the actual championships during those years.
Larsen became an international grandmaster in 1956 at the tender age of 21 but it wasn´t until the 1960’s and early 70’s that his daring play really led to results. From 1963 and ten years on he won various top tournaments and was widely considered the strongest player outside the Soviet Union next to American Bobby Fischer.
For the last thirty years of his life, Bent Larsen lived in Buenos Aires with his Argentinian wife. He died in 2010.