Does 1.b3 pose any real threat to the Black pieces? “Not much.” That was my original assessment. Then something happened to alter my thinking. Donald L. Funk played Larsen's Opening 1.b3. Don Funk was one of the key members of the North Penn Chess Club. In my early days I would adopt a familiar pieces arrangement such as the Kings Indian Defence, or Dutch Defence, or Queens Gambit Tarrasch, or the Slav Defence against such an opening.
In this particular game I grabbed the center with 1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d5. Then Don Funk played 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.f4. This puts pressure on e5. Black cannot take on f4 without losing after 5…exf4 6.Bxg7. Therefore I protected e5 with 5…f6. Then came a pawn exchange 6.fxe5 fxe5 that left an open f-file.
Funk seized the chance to continue his attack with 7.Qh5+?! It seemed wiser to develop 7.Nf3 with an equal game. My move 10…Ne4 forced White to give up a piece to save his queen. White’s army was not dead, but it was severely hampered by the loss of the piece. Gradually Black took over the initiative.
Funk (1707) - Sawyer, Lansdale, PA 1981 begins 1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d5 [3...Nf6 4.Bb5 Bd6=] 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.f4 [5.Nf3 Qe7 6.c4 dxc4 7.bxc4 Nf6 8.c5 Bxc5 9.Nxe5 0-0=] 5...f6 6.fxe5 [6.Nc3 Nge7 7.fxe5 fxe5 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qh4 Be6=] 6...fxe5 7.Qh5+?! [7.Nf3 Nh6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.Nxe5 Rxf1+ 11.Qxf1 Qh4 12.Nf3=] 7...g6 8.Qf3 [8.Qe2 Nf6 9.Nf3 Qe7 10.d3 0-0 11.Bxc6 bxc6=/+] 8...Nf6 9.Ne2 [9.Nc3 a6 10.Bxc6+ bxc6-/+] 9...0-0 10.Nbc3 Ne4 11.Nf4 exf4 [11...Nd4 12.exd4 Rxf4-+] 12.Nxe4 [12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Qxe4 Qe7-+] 12...Be5 13.Nc3 [13.0-0-0 Bxb2+ 14.Kxb2 Ne5-+] 13...fxe3 14.Qxe3 d4 [14...Bg4! 15.Bxc6 bxc6-+] 15.Bc4+ Kg7 16.Qd3 dxc3 [16...Bf5-+] 17.Bxc3 Qxd3 [17...Bg4-+] 18.Bxd3 Bxc3 19.dxc3 Bg4 20.Kd2 Rad8 21.Rae1 Rf2+ 22.Kc1 Bf5 23.Re2 Rxe2 24.Bxe2 Be4 25.Rg1 Ne5 [25...Rf8-+] 26.a4 c6 27.a5 Rf8 28.Kd2 Rf2 29.Ke3 Rxg2 30.Re1 Bxc2 31.Bf3 Rxh2 0-1
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