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  WCC Overview
Fischer vs Spassky 1972
The Match of the Century

The name Bobby Fischer, at least to Americans, is synonymous with chess. A prodigy in the 50s, a world class player in the 60s, the 70s saw Fischer at his pinnacle. He earned the right to challenge Boris Spassky in a title run without comparison, defeating Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen with perfect scores of 6-0, and ex-champion Petrosian 6½-2½. Now the stage was set, and the only thing standing between Fischer and Spassky was Fischer himself.

 Fischer vs Spassky 1972
 Fischer vs Spassky, 1972
The match was mired in political overtones, during the height of the Cold War. The Soviet chess system had a monopoly on the title since 1948, and the expectations on Spassky were enormous. While Fischer studied chess virtually in seclusion, Spassky had the full resources of the USSR. Victor Baturinsky, head of Soviet Chess Sports Committee, said: "Basically, the Soviet leadership and the powers that be in sport, were interested in just one issue: how to stop Fischer from becoming World Champion."[1]

With the match set to begin in Reykjavik, Iceland, Fischer (who had not signed any documents confirming his participation) began to make a number of demands, including a percentage of television rights, a larger prize fund, and all manner of conditions covering everything from the lighting to the chair cushions. To satisfy Bobby's demands of a larger prize fund, British chess promoter James Slater donated a dazzling $125,000 to be added to the prize fund. Fischer still needed more convincing by Bill Lombardy (Fischer's last-minute choice as second), and one famously persuasive telephone call from Henry Kissinger. Mere hours before he would be forfeited, Fischer arrived in Iceland.

On July 11th, the "Match of the Century" had begun. Whether it was a blunder, or a passion to win at all costs, the first game saw Fischer uncharacteristically lose a simple drawn endgame. Game 2 was awarded to Spassky by forfeit when Fischer failed to appear in a dispute over the presence of cameras in the playing hall.

With the score 2-0 in Spassky's favor, Fischer refused to play unless TV cameras were removed from the playing hall. Only a last minute agreement by Spassky to play away from the cameras permitted the third game to be held. This turned out to be a huge psychological mistake by Spassky. In game 3, in a small room backstage, Fischer beat Spassky for the first time in his life. The games then returned to the main stage, but without cameras. Winning again in games 5, 6, 8, and 10 the Fischer juggernaut had become unstoppable.

On September 3, 1972, Robert James Fischer became the 11th World Chess Champion.

click on a game number to replay game 123456789101112131415161718192021

FINAL SCORE:  Fischer 12½;  Spassky 8½
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Fischer-Spassky 1972]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #6     Fischer vs Spassky, 1972     1-0
    · Game #13     Spassky vs Fischer, 1972     0-1
    · Game #5     Spassky vs Fischer, 1972     0-1


  1. Clash of the Titans, television documentary, BBC
    2The Match of the Century, Wikipedia

 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Spassky vs Fischer 1-0561972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchE56 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 7...Nc6
2. Fischer vs Spassky 0-101972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchA00 Uncommon Opening
3. Spassky vs Fischer 0-1411972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchA61 Benoni
4. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½451972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB88 Sicilian, Fischer-Sozin Attack
5. Spassky vs Fischer 0-1271972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchE41 Nimzo-Indian
6. Fischer vs Spassky 1-0411972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchD59 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower
7. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½491972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB97 Sicilian, Najdorf
8. Fischer vs Spassky 1-0371972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchA39 English, Symmetrical, Main line with d4
9. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½291972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
10. Fischer vs Spassky 1-0561972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
11. Spassky vs Fischer 1-0311972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB97 Sicilian, Najdorf
12. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½551972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Spassky vs Fischer 0-1741972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB04 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
14. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½401972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
15. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½431972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB99 Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line
16. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½601972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
17. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½451972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB09 Pirc, Austrian Attack
18. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½471972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB69 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 11.Bxf6
19. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½401972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB05 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
20. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½541972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB68 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 9...Be7
21. Spassky vs Fischer 0-1411972Spassky - Fischer World Championship MatchB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 30 OF 30 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-28-18  ewan14: Black should have played 14 ... Qb7

Not pawn a6

Jun-28-18  Petrosianic: Okay, but you're still not telling us which game you pick as the best.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: My favourite is game 15.
Jun-28-18  Petrosianic: That's your favorite draw. Do you have a favorite decisive game?
Jun-29-18  Everett: Game 13 makes this match. Both players played well.

Game 6 seems to be quite over-rated. Need to find a more updated analysis of it. Spassky played poorly in comparison to his opponent.

Wouldn't be the first time that a particular game is best known but not the best in the match (ie. Game 6 here)

In the previous match with Petrosian, Fischer's very best game IMO was his 4th victory, when he played near-flawlessly with Black. Petrosian made one mistake in the opening, lost the initiative, and missed one remarkable save at the very end. Otherwise it was a great game, and the one that won the match for Fischer. Petrosian vs Fischer, 1971

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Petrosianic: That's your favorite draw. Do you have a favorite decisive game?>

For me, also game 13.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Petrosianic> I would say game 13 was most decisive since Spassky had stopped the bleeding with his win in game 11 (and almost won game 12 but drew) so a win in game 13 would really set the stage for the remainder of the match.

Yet he bungled it away, not only the win but the draw too

I read where after the game Spassky sat staring at the board and was mumbling something to the effect while holding Fischer's rook "How could I lose? I had this rook penned in, yet I lost"

So for sheer drama and decisiveness, its game 13 (a pity for Spassky that a late blunder squandered the draw sending him into defeat)


Jun-29-18  Howard: Seem to vaguely recall reading back then that at the conclusion of Game 13, Spassky reshuffled the pieces to where he played his decisive blunder (Rd1) and took another look at the position from there.

Incidentally, just where did Spassky come close to winning Game 12? That game did have some interesting moments, but it was a draw all the way.

Jun-29-18  Petrosianic: When I ranked them, I tried to downplay the big picture and go just by the game itself. For instance, Game 3 was surely more momentous than Game 10 (Fischer's first ever win, the situation would have been hopeless with another loss, et cetera).

But I think just going by the game itself, Game 10 is a better one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Howard> Agreed, my comment "almost won game 12 but drew" is an overstatement. The most that can be said is Black was in firm control the whole way and was never threatened by Fischer.
Jun-29-18  Petrosianic: Well, let's ask that question next. Let's take all of the draws and ask which player was pressing in each drawn game.

This does NOT necessarily mean that the player was winning or even close to winning. Just who had the better end of the draw. I'd make it like this:

Game 4 Spassky
Game 7 Fischer
Game 9 Neither
Game 12 Spassky
Game 14 Spassky
Game 15 Both
Game 16 Spassky
Game 17 Spassky
Game 18 Neither
Game 19 Spassky
Game 20 Spassky

Jun-29-18  RookFile: Yeah, Spassky pressing so much in these draws shows that he didn't crack in the 2nd half of the match like Fischer's other opponents did.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett: Game 13 makes this match. Both players played well....>

That was one terrific scrap--pity there wound up being a losing player in the end.

Jun-30-18  Howard: Spassky was quoted as saying that in the seven straight draws, from 14-20, he missed winning chances in all of them, and "especially in Games 18 and 20."
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Howard>, can you please email the people in charge of this website?
Jun-30-18  Howard: If you're referring to the obnoxious garbage that I was alluding to regarding a different game...

....I just emailed Daniel Freeman about it!

Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Offramp !!!

Jun-30-18  ewan14: No , you cannot .

and Fischer was probably the best player in 1971 but iirc he turned up on time for the beginning of all the Candidates matches and did not disrupt their proceedings

And why is Harry Lime represented by Sir
Paul ?

Jun-30-18  ewan14: sorry , in 1971 ( and maybe 1970 ) Fischer was the best chess player in the world

1967 possibly but that is it

The strongest ( non mixed field ) tournaments he played in were the Candidates in 59 and 62 when he was not experienced enough

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: One could argue that the stretch of games from 14 - 20 was the cream of this match. All furiously and bitterly fought, very accurate, no blunders, each unique and exciting in its own way.

*I've always been fascinated by game 19, what with Spassky finding an interesting piece-sac novelty OTB <18.Nxd5>, but alas, it again drifts into a draw

Jul-01-18  Olavi: I agree morf, though Spassky did blunder the easy-ish technical win away in game 14. But why not include game 13.
Jul-01-18  ZonszeinP: I really enjoyed reading the list given by <petrosianic> above
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Olavi> You are correct, I had forgotten about the horrible <27...f6>

And on your comment <...But why not include game 13?> I think <Petrosianic> is separating decisive games from drawn games

Premium Chessgames Member
  jonjoseph: I will post my reaction before seeing this game. First fact is I do not have a shed full of chess super computers. Second fact is I do not have a shed full of chess books . So who would bother about my reactions to anything connected with Chess ? But if I write a personal reaction to each game as a human and not a computer or a book I wil know the atmosphere or character of the game far quicker than several long lists of moves.So as a record for me personally It will be useful .I hope that won`t sound too grumpy .
Premium Chessgames Member
  jonjoseph: This is a short early reaction to Fischer Spassky games .I get a feeling that Spassky was much more cautious and it comes across as timid and uncreative. Spassky has a wide variety of playing styles and there`s rarely a dull game from his side of the board .But if you drained away all the political drama are these the best games to watch?
Sep-20-18  ZonszeinP: Interesting comments

I remember those times in 1972

I had the impression that Spassky was a "tower" in front of a talented but spoilt child

Then the tower began to crumble...
Not like falling down but

Rather like getting smaller by day

Just "shaking" a bit in the second half

But, not really really "biting"

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