Larsen was a candidate for the World Championship four times and became one of the most successful tournament players of his time. His uncompromising style and unorthodox play made him one of the most popular players of his day. An example of his play can be seen in the following game against Troianescu.
Octavio Troianescu (February 4, 1916 - November 8, 1980) was a Romanian IM who was born in Chernivtsi which is today in western Ukraine. From the mid-1940s to the end of the 1970s he was one of the top Romanian players, winning the national championship nine times. In 1956 and 1960 he took part in the Olympiads and he finished 9th in the zonal tournament in Wageningen.
In 1957 one of the zonals was played in Dublin and you can visit the Irish Chess Union website to see photos from the event. For a complete list of all the zonal tournaments see Mark Weeks site.
In other 1957 chess news, Smyslov defeated Botvinnik to win the world championship, Fischer won the US Championship ahead of Reshevsky. A strong double round international tournament was held in Dallas, Texas and Reshevsky and Gligoric tied for first ahead of Szabo and Larsen. The field was rounded out by Larsen, Yanofsky, Olafsson, Najdorf and Evans. Bronstein had been invited, but he had visa problems and couldn't play. There was also a side match between local star Kenneth Smith and Pal Benko; it was no contest as Benko won 5.5-1.5.
In the European Team Championship the Soviets won ahead of Yugoslavia and Hungary. The first Women's Olympiad took place in Emmen in Holland and the Soviet Union edged Romania on tiebreaks. Nine countries were represented.
In world headline Russia tested its first ICBM missile and more importantly launched Sputnik, the first earth-orbiting satellite. It orbited for three weeks before its batteries died, then for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere. I remember the great excitement as people around the world were anxious to hear its radio signals: beep, beep, beep. It doesn't sound like a big deal today, but that wasn't the case in 1957! The Sputnik rocket booster also reached Earth orbit and was visible from the ground at night, while the small but highly polished sphere, barely visible, was more difficult to follow optically. There were even parties to try to spot it and catch a glimpse of the tiny light gliding across the sky.
Also that year in Little Rock, Arkansas the high school was integrated and President Eisenhower sent troops in to quell mob and protect the students after hard line segregationist Governor Orval Faubus defied a federal order. He served as Governor from 1955 to 1967 and tried but failed to get reelected in 1970, 1974 and 1986. In his last run he was defeated by future President Bill Clinton.
At the Wageningen (in The Netherlands) Zonal, Larsen tied for 3rd–4th with Donner and as there were only three spots open for the Interzonal at Portoroz in 1958 they had a playoff at The Hague and Larsen won decisively 3-1.
Portoroz was a 21-player tournament with the top six players qualifying for the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates tournament in 1959, but no more than four players from any one country could advance. The tournament was won by Tal with Gligoric second followed by Benko and Petrosian then Fischer and Olafsson who were the qualifiers. Former World Champion David Bronstein tied for places 7-11 with Averbakh, Matanovic, Sabo and Pachman and missed qualifying by half a point. Bronstein lost only one game, to 19th place finisher Rodolfo Tan Cardoso.
When he got to Portoroz in 1958 Larsen struck a snag and only finished 16th out of 21. After some ups and downs in tournament play after that he modified his style and began playing risky and unusual openings in some of his games and his results improved.
Larsen was known his highly imaginative play and he was willing to try unorthodox ideas and take risks. In Great Chess Upsets, Reshevsky wrote, "He is a firm believer in the value of surprise. Consequently, he often resorts to dubious variations in various openings. He also likes to complicate positions even though it may involve considerable risk. He has a great deal of confidence in his game and fears no one. His unique style has proven extremely effective against relatively weak opponents but has not been too successful against top-notchers.”