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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
Fischer001½11½1½10½1½½½½½½½1
Spassky110½00½0½01½0½½½½½½½0

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

FOOTNOTES

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

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 23 OF 23 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-15-17  ZonszeinP: I read that sentence somewhere
Love it
P.Roth I think
Aug-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Botvinnik likely supported that rule because there were possibly a dozen players in the Soviet Union (and nobody outside) capable of threatening him. The earlier he got them out of the mix, the earlier he could forget about having to prepare for them and focus on the remaining threats.

Without that rule, Benko would have been out and Stein would have been in. But there would still have been Filip as a second non-Soviet.

Aug-15-17  ZonszeinP: Right

that's because of the terrible game Spassky lost to Stein the year before

Aug-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < ZonszeinP: Botvinnik was even behind the idea of no more than 3 Soviets in the candidates!>

People need to come up with a legitimate cite for that claim, or stop making it.

<Can you imagine Curaçao 1962 A fair one?
With only Fischer as a non soviet??

Justice!>

I'm sure Fischer would have been thrilled to play in a candidates tournament against seven Soviets.

Anyway, you're wrong. Six players qualified from the Stockholm Interzonal. Filip finished in a tie for 4th-5th with Korchnoi. Stein finished in a tie for 6th-8th with Gligoric and Benko. So Fischer would not have been the only non-Soviet whether there was a limit on qualifiers from a single country or not. And there's no guarantee Stein would have qualified for Curacao even if he had been allowed to try.

Stockholm Interzonal (1962)

< ZonszeinP: When I was young I thought that it was FIDEs "idea" As if FIDE and Botvinnik had nothing to do with each other... "Nothing keeps its promises..">

What is it about Botvinnik that deranges people so?

Aug-15-17  ZonszeinP: Four games between Fischer and Stein (etc) would have been interesting!

It's a pity that Tal was not well at the time

Aug-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <keypusher>: <So Fischer would not have been the only non-Soviet whether there was a limit on qualifiers from a single country or not. And there's no guarantee Stein would have qualified for Curacao even if he had been allowed to try.>

I'd already mentioned Filip. On the other question, there is a guarantee, since Stein DID qualify. You may not realize it, but there was a 3-way playoff between Stein, Benko and Gligoric. Stein won the playoff, was not allowed to play under the limitation. Benko, who finished 2nd in the playoff got the spot. All Stein won for his troubles was the right to be First Alternate if another Soviet dropped out.

But believe it or not, there's still a way to argue this question. The score of the Playoff was

Stein 3-1
Benko 2-1
Gligoric 0-3

The final Gligoric-Benko game wasn't played, as it didn't affect the outcome. If it had been played, and Benko had won with Black, the playoff would have ended in a tie, and need to be broken some other way. So it still may be possible that Stein might not have qualified.

Aug-15-17  ZonszeinP: I mentioned Curaçao as an example.
But the point was the rule of 3 participants per country. And it's unfairness
Together with Botvinnik's right to a return match
Aug-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Petrosianic: <keypusher>: <So Fischer would not have been the only non-Soviet whether there was a limit on qualifiers from a single country or not. And there's no guarantee Stein would have qualified for Curacao even if he had been allowed to try.> I'd already mentioned Filip. On the other question, there is a guarantee, since Stein DID qualify. You may not realize it, but there was a 3-way playoff between Stein, Benko and Gligoric. Stein won the playoff, was not allowed to play under the limitation. Benko, who finished 2nd in the playoff got the spot. All Stein won for his troubles was the right to be First Alternate if another Soviet dropped out.>

Of course I recognized it. We've discussed the playoff before. But Stein (and Benko and Gligoric) knew in advance he couldn't qualify, and there's no telling how the playoff would have gone if he <had> been able to qualify. Maybe he would have played better, maybe he would have played worse.

<ZonszeinP: I mentioned Curaçao as an example. But the point was the rule of 3 participants per country.>

Your "point" was that Botvinnik was responsible for the rule. What is your evidence for that?

Aug-15-17  Sally Simpson: Hi K.P.

"Your "point" was that Botvinnik was responsible for the rule. What is your evidence for that?"

This was all cleared up months ago. Botvinnik suggested a limit on Russians playing in the candidates.

Page 186. MGP III by Kasparov.

. "[In 1958] there began a spell of bad luck and vexing failures in Bronstein's career. The cause of this was largely the Botvinnik initiated limit on the representatives from one country (i.e. the USSR) in the Candidates tournaments: not more than five out of eight were allowed."

In 1958. Smyslov and Keres were already there, so it was three places for the Soviets,

Aug-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Sally Simpson: Hi K.P. "Your "point" was that Botvinnik was responsible for the rule. What is your evidence for that?"

This was all cleared up months ago. Botvinnik suggested a limit on Russians playing in the candidates.

Page 186. MGP III by Kasparov.

. "[In 1958] there began a spell of bad luck and vexing failures in Bronstein's career. The cause of this was largely the Botvinnik initiated limit on the representatives from one country (i.e. the USSR) in the Candidates tournaments: not more than five out of eight were allowed."

In 1958. Smyslov and Keres were already there, so it was three places for the Soviets,>

Sally, you're not offering Kasparov as a reliable historian, are you? That's like citing Fine on Morphy's alleged fondness for women's shoes.

To repeat: this tale needs a reliable source, or it needs to go away.

Aug-16-17  Sally Simpson: Hi K.P.

It was a 1956 deal between FIDE and the Soviets. Botvinnik got in his re-match clause against only the player who beat him (before then if he lost it was to be a three player match, him, the new champion and the winner of the candidates) in return there was to be a cap on Soviet players in the candidates.

Botvinnik agreed. It meant if he lost he would only play one player and it cut down the number of potential Soviets he might have to face.

The feeling is without agreeing to the cap in Soviet players the re-match clause would have been shelved. This is why Kasparov says it was 'Botvinnik initiated.'

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Sally Simpson: Hi K.P. It was a 1956 deal between FIDE and the Soviets. Botvinnik got in his re-match clause against only the player who beat him (before then if he lost it was to be a three player match, him, the new champion and the winner of the candidates) in return there was to be a cap on Soviet players in the candidates.

Botvinnik agreed. It meant if he lost he would only play one player and it cut down the number of potential Soviets he might have to face.

The feeling is without agreeing to the cap in Soviet players the re-match clause would have been shelved. This is why Kasparov says it was 'Botvinnik initiated.'>

That makes no sense whatsoever, and sounds like an extrapolation from the deal Karpov made to get a rematch when he agreed to an unlimited match. Do you have a source?

Aug-16-17  Sally Simpson: Hi K.P.

First source I gave was Kasparov but that was knocked back.

Have you looked for one or done any investigation. Poke about on the net and see what you can find.

I'll get back to you.

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Sally> You can take a look here:

Portoroz Interzonal (1958)

(excerpt from Tal's autobiography, and discussion <beatgiant> links to, which you participated in, and which doesn't seem to have reached any definitive conclusions).

I think there's a lot of investigating yet to be done on this topic.

Aug-16-17  Sally Simpson: Hi K.P.

You are going to get me into trouble. I dragged the charming Mrs C. to see a chess play and we are now off to see something she wants to watch.

But this link:

https://www.chess.com/blog/Spektrow...

The whole thing is very interesting read.but the relevant part is:

About World Championship qualification system

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Sally> Thanks, that's much more specific than anything I've seen before. I'll post it on the Portoroz page.
Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <But Stein (and Benko and Gligoric) knew in advance he couldn't qualify, and there's no telling how the playoff would have gone if he <had> been able to qualify. Maybe he would have played better, maybe he would have played worse.>

All we know is that Stein DID win the Playoff. Whether he would have if there were more pressure, or if Benko beat Gligoric with Black (something he never did in his life) is all theoretical. But there's no denying that Stein was bitten by the Limitation Rule here.

The joke is that if he had defected immediately after the Playoff, he'd have been in.

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <Sally Simpson> <The feeling is without agreeing to the cap in Soviet players the re-match clause would have been shelved. This is why Kasparov says it was 'Botvinnik initiated.'>

That's a bit wonky. The Rematch Clause was Botvinnik-initiated, to be sure. But even the way you're telling it, it sounds like it was FIDE initiated (in exchange for the rematch). Botvinnik may have been quite happy with it, but that's not the same as his initiating it.

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Now as far as Bronstein goes, the big myth used to be that he was knocked out in 1958 by his loss to Cardoso (his first ever loss in 3 Interzonals). Obviously that's not quite true. A draw would only have put him into a tie with Fischer and Olaffson, where he would have been knocked out by the 4 Soviets Rule. He would have had to win with Black to get into a tie with Petrosian and Benko for 3rd place. In that case, presumably Benko would have automatically qualified, and Petrosian and Bronstein would have had to play off to see who was the 4th Soviet.

Of course Bronstein's play was very lukewarm that entire interzonal. He was only +4-0=15 going into the last round. Of the entire bottom half of the scoretable, he'd only managed to beat Sherwin and Fuster. In the previous round, he'd had excellent winning chances against Gligoric. If he hadn't piddled them away, he might not have been in a Must Win situation in the last round.

Bronstein vs Gligoric, 1958

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I am a beaten man, Sally. A BEATEN MAN. But thank you for the beating.
Aug-16-17  Howard: It's certainly a valid point to say that Stein's play in the three-way playoff WAS almost certainly affected by the fact that for him, it was basically a formality---unlike with Benko and Gligoric.

The probability of any of the five Soviets dropping out of the Candidates--thus clearing the way for Stein to advance--was remote. Stein, of course, would have known that.

Aug-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Not totally remote. Tal underwent a major operation just before the tournament, and arguably SHOULD have dropped out.

But yes, the odds were certainly low. But any arguments to the effect of "Stein only won the playoff because he had nothing to play for" are totally hypothetical.

Aug-16-17  Howard: Just to clarify, I wasn't saying that Stein won it merely because "he had nothing to play for".

God knows what would have happened if Stein DID have something to play for.

I'll also add this: Stein was unquestionably one of the greatest players who never qualified for the candidates. He came damn close in 1962, 1964, and 1967. And, if he hadn't died so prematurely, in 1973, he might have qualified in the interzonals that year.

Aug-16-17  Sally Simpson: Hi Petrosianic,

" But even the way you're telling it, it sounds like it was FIDE initiated (in exchange for the rematch)."

That is what happened. FIDE drop the 3rd player in the re-match (should Botvinnik need one) and we (The Soviets) will restrict the number of players in the candidates.

Mikhail Botvinnik: The Life and Games of a World Chess Champion. page 199.

The FIDE president then was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folke... and:

Read from the bit that starts:

"A more remarkable Botvinnik idea concerned the next candidates tournament."

"Rogard like to balance matters between East and West, added Averbach. Since the return match favoured the Soviet incumbent [Botvinnik] Rogard sought to offset it with the rule that limited the players from one federation in a candidates tournament." https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...

----

Regarding the Stein defecting joke, if Keres had managed to catch a boat he had lined up in 1944 to take him to the West he would not have remained a Soviet citizen and the whole history of chess may have changed.

(I wonder if Botvinnik had anything to do with making sure Keres never got on that boat. He's getting the blame for everything else.)

Aug-29-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <AylerKupp:

As I've mentioned before, I worked during the Second Piatagorsky Cup tournament in 1966 and was one of several boys in charge of moving transparent plastic pieces on a projection machine to show the players' moves to the audience. And, as luck would have it, I was assigned to do this during one of Fischer's games.

Needless to say, we were instructed to be completely quiet and still during the games. And I was perfectly quiet and still while Fischer and his opponent were thinking about their moves. Nevertheless, at one point when it was Fischer's move the turns to me, points his finger at me, and yells "You, be quiet!" At that point I snapped back at him telling him "I am quiet!". At which point Fischer shrugged it off and went back to considering his move without any further outbursts.

So excuse me for not believing that Fischer was inordinately sensitive to noise and, if he was, that he was aware of the source of the noise. I think that, when taken together with the rest of his antics, it was a deliberate attempt to upset Spassky. Which succeeded.>

Since this is six years before Spassky
it makes me believe Fischer even more.

Did Fischer win the game where you showed the moves? Do you remember his opponent?

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