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 #10     Fischer vs Spassky, 1972     1-0

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

 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Spassky vs Fischer 1-056 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchE56 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 7...Nc6
2. Fischer vs Spassky 0-10 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchA00 Uncommon Opening
3. Spassky vs Fischer 0-141 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchA61 Benoni
4. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½45 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB88 Sicilian, Fischer-Sozin Attack
5. Spassky vs Fischer 0-127 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchE41 Nimzo-Indian
6. Fischer vs Spassky 1-041 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchD59 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower
7. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½49 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB97 Sicilian, Najdorf
8. Fischer vs Spassky 1-037 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchA39 English, Symmetrical, Main line with d4
9. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½29 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
10. Fischer vs Spassky 1-056 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
11. Spassky vs Fischer 1-031 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB97 Sicilian, Najdorf
12. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½55 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Spassky vs Fischer 0-174 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB04 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
14. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½40 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
15. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½43 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB99 Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line
16. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½60 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation, 6.d4
17. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½45 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB09 Pirc, Austrian Attack
18. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½47 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB69 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 11.Bxf6
19. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½40 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB05 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
20. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½54 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship MatchB68 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 9...Be7
21. Spassky vs Fischer 0-141 1972 Fischer-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 9 OF 9 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-23-12  TheTamale: <AVRO38: Besides, anyone who thinks Morphy was not the Champion of the World simply because he didn't sign a contract to that effect, is smoking crack!>

Incorrect. I am smoking crack, but I do not think that.

Oh wait, I'm assuming the converse of a true conditional statement is also true, which is not a logically supported assumption.

I apologize, you may be right. Carry on!

Apr-23-12  Petrosianic: Oh wait, I'm assuming the converse of a true conditional statement is also true, which is not a logically supported assumption.

In simpler terms, this is known as The Fallacy of False Conversion. One of the mistakes youre making here is trying to convert an A statement.

But the larger mistake is arguing with Avro. He's just BSing you, conflating "world champion" with "best player in the world", and hoping to find a sucker to argue with. It sounds like you see the trick already. He does too, but you'll never get him to admit it.

Jul-12-12  Kinan: Nice interview with Averbakh about this match:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Cemoblanca: CLASH OF THE TITANS, BBC 1999

Premium Chessgames Member
  Cemoblanca: 36:25 - 37:20

Mr. Spassky was a true gentlemen & a very fine human being. I feel still so sorry for him. This part was very touching. I can only agree that: "C'est la vies" Mr. Spassky. Life goes on. All the best for you & yours! :0)

Nov-17-12  BobbyDigital80: Does anyone know if there's footage that exists from the 1972 World Championship match? I don't mean a few short clips that are sometimes shown in documentaries about Fischer. I mean the entire film footage or closed-circuit TV footage of the match (or at least a large portion of it). It must exist somewhere. Otherwise, how did anyone get a hold of the few brief clips we see in chess documentaries?
Feb-26-13  tzar: Does anybody know why Fischer's elo dropped from 2785 to 2780 when he retired?. Did he lose points in his match with Spassky????????!!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Did he lose points in his match with Spassky????????!!!>

Yes, he did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Did he lose points in his match with Spassky????????!!!>

Yes, he did because the rating difference between them was huge, 2785-2660; and bear in mind that Fischer's loss by forfeit in game 2 wasn't even rated. The Elo "prediction" for a 2785 player is to score 13.4/20 against a 2660 player, and Fischer scored 12.5 (in practical terms, the "expected" result would mean Fischer winning the match a game sooner). Actually, according to the FIDE rating calculator he should have lost 9 points, which presumably means 10 points back then since they were rounding to the nearest five Elo points, so Im not even sure why it was only 5.

Feb-27-13  tzar: Wow, thanks. "Mr. Elo" has very little respect for historic victories!
Feb-27-13  RookFile: Well, he treated every game and match the same. I think that's fair and reasonable.
Feb-27-13  tzar: just joking, the method is quite good. It seems fair to have this "double system" in chess. In the one hand the glory of great victories and titles and in the other a systematic accurate rating.
Feb-27-13  RookFile: In the end, people care about who is champ. Everything else is line noise.
Feb-28-13  tzar: I am not so sure about that nowadays. It doesn't seem that Anand gets much glory out of his title, just visit Carlsen's page.
Mar-14-13  Hesam7: Given the status of this match in chess history, I am surprised that there are only two books dedicated to it (Gligoric & Euwe-Timman).

Personally I would welcome a book which analyzed the 20 games in great detail (say 10 page per game) combining the old literature with modern opening theory and extensive computer analysis.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Hesam7> I'm not sure what you mean, since there were several "instant" books that came out soon after the match. I can think of Robert Byrne & Ivo Nei's "Both Sides of the Chessboard", a book by Larry Evans and Ken Smith which had a diagram and comment after every move (mostly trivial, of course); books by Fine, Reshevsky, Richard Roberts (a compilation of reports from the New York Times), and doubtless many others.

However, if you're thinking of modern reappraisals of the match, particularly with deep computer and human analysis, that's another matter.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: A look at the current offerings devoted exclusively to the 1972 match (there are some other books that contain information about the match but are not dedicated to it) shows the following:

1. "Fischer/Spassky: The New York Times Report on the Chess Match of the Century" by Richard Roberts, Francis Wyndham, C.H. Alexander, and Bobby Fischer (Apr-1973), $110.23 new (hardcover), $75.43 (paperback). From $ 0.74 used (hardcover).

2. "Chess World Championship: Fischer vs. Spassky 1972" by Larry Evans and Ken Smith (Jul-1973), $59.90 new (paperback) paperback. From $15.00 used (paperback).

3. "Fischer World Champion! The Acclaimed Classic About the 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Match" by Max Euwe and Jan Timman (May-2002), new $25.92 (paperback). Revised in 2008 and available new for $ 18.96 (paperback) and used from $10.87 (paperback)

4. "Fischer v. Spassky, Reykjavik, 1972" by C.H.O'D Alexander (Oct-1972), new $123.30 (hardcover), $93.06 (paperback) and used from $0.01 (paperback).

5. Fischer Vs. Spassky: World Chess Championship Match, 1972" by Svetozar Gligoric and Sam Sloan (Jan-1973), new $61.41 (paperback). From $ 0.01 used (paperback) and $18.00 used (hardcover). This book was updated in Oct-2012 to include the games in algebraic notation as an appendix and is available new for $19.95 (paperback) and used from $ 8.99 (paperback)

6. "Fischer Spassky" by Richard, et al Roberts (1972), used from $7.00 (paperback) or $0.75 (mass market paperback).

7. "Fischer v Spassky: World Chess Championship 1972" by Harry Golombek (Mar-1973), new $62.93 (hardcover), $8.38 (paperback).

8. "Fischer-Spassky Move by Move (Illustrated)" by Larry Evans (Jun-1973), used from $124.05 (hardcover), from $42.00 (paperback).

I was struck by (a) the high prices asked for some of the books, particularly the new books, (b) the ridiculous low prices by some of the used paperbacks; clearly the sellers want to collect the shipping fee, and (c) practically all books were written (Euwe/Timman excepted) were written shortly; those that were updated were done sloppily as evident by the reviews, and (d) all are in descriptive notation except for the Gligoric book which included an appendix with the games in algebraic notation.

So <Phony Benoni> is quite correct; no books in the market today are likely to contain a modern reappraisal of the match with deep computer and human analysis. This makes me think that such a book, if properly done and at a reasonable price, has the potential to sell a substantial number of copies, given the continued interest in Fischer (both good and bad!) as evidenced by the activity in his page on this site.

The reason I bring all this up is that I think we have the talent and expertise at this site to generate such a book as a collaborative effort. I have no experience in book writing but I'm sure that several on this site do; <Once> comes immediately to mind. I would envision someone with book writing and/or book publishing experience taking the lead, organizing a book outline, and then we can divide the various games between those participating to research, analyze, and comment. Plus chapters on the background of the match and an assessment of its aftermath.

If anyone is interested in taking the lead on such a project, let me know. I would be interested in participating and readily volunteer for a deep analysis of the moves in Game 2. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Larsen did a book on the 1972 match. Reshevsky also (not the NY Times one). I have both.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: The best of all was Pachman's book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: "How Fischer Won" by Cecil John Seddon Purdy on this match I thought was quite good.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Benzol> I would easily place Purdy's in the top three of books written about 1972.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: On another note, I don't think Purdy ever wrote a bad book. One of the finest writers in chess literature.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <TheFocus> I understand that one book of his "The Return Of Alekhine" on the 1937 match later became a collectors piece. The writings of his that I have read I've always thought to be of a high quality.
Premium Chessgames Member
  optimal play: <<<<Fischer returns home>

NEW YORK, Monday (AAP). ->

World chess champion Bobby Fischer flew home last night from Iceland where he became the first American in modern history to win the chess championship, United Press International reported.

Mr Fischer walked briskly from the Icelandic jet to a waiting limousine sent by the Mayor, Mr Lindsay. Carrying a wreath awarded to him at the Reykjavik chess match, Mr Fischer said that he did not know whether he would attend the Chess Olympiad at Skopje, Yugoslavia, which begins today.>

- The Canberra Times (ACT) issue Tuesday 19 September 1972>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <BobbyDigital80> <it must exist somewhere> I agree, and have asked these questions on numerous occasions. I've read a couple of times, that the closed circuit tapes from the WHOLE match are in a Bank Vault in Iceland. Waiting for whom, for what, to be purchased, for how much, ect. Guess the folks in Iceland who sponsored the match have to be questioned first. Don't understand why Brady, has never written about this, but then again, he has neglected to write about many things in regards, to the fallen legend.
Jump to page #    (enter # from 1 to 9)
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 9 OF 9 ·  Later Kibitzing>
NOTE: You need to pick a username and password to post a reply. Getting your account takes less than a minute, totally anonymous, and 100% free--plus, it entitles you to features otherwise unavailable. Pick your username now and join the chessgames community!
If you already have an account, you should login now.
Please observe our posting guidelines:
  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, or duplicating posts.
  3. No personal attacks against other users.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
Blow the Whistle See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform an administrator.

NOTE: Keep all discussion on the topic of this page. This forum is for this specific tournament and nothing else. If you want to discuss chess in general, or this site, you might try the Kibitzer's Café.
Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

home | about | login | logout | F.A.Q. | your profile | preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | new kibitzing | chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Little ChessPartner | privacy notice | contact us
Copyright 2001-2014, Chessgames Services LLC
Web design & database development by 20/20 Technologies