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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.

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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 28 OF 30 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-12-18  Petrosianic: I think the interview was correct at the time. If two players agree on a venue and work things out among themselves, that's where they would play. These days that's no longer true. FIDE gets a cut of the gate, and there have been cases where both players were forced to play some place they didn't like. It's hard to imagine that happening pre-Kirsan, though. With Fischer-Petrosian, Fischer wanted Argentina and Petrosian wanted Greece. They didn't agree, so FIDE stepped in and drew lots. (There was some grumbling, however, that the lots were drawn in private).

Now it's possible to play in one player's home country, but the other player can't be forced to play there. At least that's the rule now. Probably not so then, as this was the first FIDE match in which both players weren't from the same country.

<And how much interest would there have been on a fourth straight Spassky – Petrosian WCC match?>

It would only have been the third. (You're thinking of Botvinnik-Smyslov.) Having one player be a substitute would significantly reduce the interest, even if it were a first time matchup. FIDE's 1993 match featured TWO substitutes and interest was about zero.

I'd like to have seen a third Petrosian-Spassky match. It might have happened in the 1974, 1977 or 1980 candidates, but never did. To me personally, a candidates match between two ex-champions would have been very interesting.

Jan-12-18  Petrosianic: About the Fischer-Petrosian negotiations, there's a story in one of the books in which Petrosian and Fischer had a phone call with Gligoric acting as interpreter for both. They discussed it for a while, didn't agree, and Petrosian got annoyed when Gligoric said "Fischer says it doesn't matter, FIDE will pick Argentina anyway." Fischer liked Argentina because it had a bigger bid, and because the steaks were good there. Petrosian wanted Greece because of the climate.

The candidates match between two ex-champions might have happened. Had Botvinnik not dropped out of the 1965 Candidates, it would have been Botvinnik-Smyslov in the Quarterfinals. I'd have found that interesting too, even though it would have been their fourth. It would have been interesting because often when you see players who have been opponents for years, they stop trying to beat each other at some point, and just draw all their games. It's hard when two people know each other that well. But in a match situation, they have to try to win. How do you do it when you both know each other inside and out? We had to wait for Karpov-Kasparov to see that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: My Match With Fischer

I like very much to play in Yugoslavia. I was there many times (in 1954 Bronstein and I were the first two players to go there in a long interval). However I never was very successful in Yugoslavia, neither in my youth, nor in my blossoming years when I was World Champion. For many years I was never able to win a higher prize than third place . Naturally I was afraid that everything would remind me of my failures, so I had to reject Yugoslavia. This left nothing else but Argentina. But I did not want to go there for such an important match. It was the southern half of the Western Hemisphere and I had heard about the heat and the humidity in springtime. On the other hand I had no choice. There had been rumors of French and Greek bids, but nothing came of them.

Thus our negotiations came to the critical point, and the F.I.D.E. Congress had to make the final decision. Then quite unexpectedly we received a cable from Greece to “64” weekly. They invited us to play our match in Greece under very tempting conditions. Precisely at that time the Yugoslav Grandmaster Gligoric called me from Belgrade. He asked if I would like to speak with Fischer. I asked him, “How could we manage? I am not a good English speaker, and his Russian is hardly good enough for a serious talk.” “No problem,” responded Gligoric, “I shall be your mediator and interpreter. We shall arrange a kind of radio bridge Moscow-Belgrade-New York, with me in the center.” So we did.

I want to reproduce some shorthand notes from this memorable talk. <Gligoric> (to Fischer): Where would you like to play?

<Fischer> The highest prize money is in Argentina, besides this country is not too far from the U.S.A.

<Gligoric> (to Fischer): You do not think the match could be played in Europe?

<Fischer> I am sure the Russians will say no to Argentina. I consider that Yugoslavia or Greece is all the same to them. The most important thing for them is to stay in Europe. Their results are generally mediocre in the Western Hemisphere. They had trouble playing the U.S. team in 1954 in New York, whereas they won the return match in Russia very easily. They have a good memory for such facts, so you can expect a fight over the venue of this match.

<Petrosian> Tell him that I shall not go to Buenos Aires. Why should I go to him, to his hemisphere? He is a young man, he has played two matches in America already. Let us meet one another somewhere halfway.

<Gligoric> Fischer says that Argentina offers the best financial conditions.

<Petrosian. I see. I am not against good conditions, but money is not all.

<Gligoric> (to Fischer): Tell me, Bobby, maybe some other place?

<Fischer> Buenos Aires is best. The city is fine, and steaks are marvelous there.

<Petrosian> For me, the weather and playing conditions are the most important, rather than money.

<Fischer> Money is not so important for him because his state supports him.

<Petrosian> Fischer also has his state, let it help him. I am not so young yet, so when I think where to play I have some other considerations, not only financial.

<Fischer> The highest bid and experience say for Argentina. I believe that F.I.D.E. will prefer Argentina.

(When we were speaking, <Gligoric> translated the phrase a bit abridged and modified: “Fischer says that F.I.D.E. will decide for Argentina anyway.” It sounds more than categorically, and even when it is a written text it is still convincing enough.)

<Petrosian> (with some indignation) F.I.D.E. has no right to compel me. If they try, Fischer would play somebody else, not me.

Later on I learned from South American sources that “the bid of Athens was indisputable for all reasons, but Argentinian delegates managed to arrange drawing lots.”

A lot is already said about these “draws.” Boys, or girls decorated with bows, pull the lots from rotating wheels – this is the common picture. But a few years ago someone introduced a damn clever thing – first to pull who will pull first… A human comedy. One who had pulled it can pull the “main” lot.

It was the wife of the Danish delegate who pulled. She took the parcel with the text “United States of America” inside it. Then Mr. Edmondson, representative for the U.S. Federation, told her: “You have done it so well, please, take again.” She took another parcel, this time with “Argentina” in it - <Petrosian's Legacy> by Tigran Petrosian, pg. 113-114.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Petrosianic> It would only have been the third. (You're thinking of Botvinnik-Smyslov.>

Brain fart. You are correct of course. I had a mental picture of a return match and, of course, by that time the return match clause had been eliminated for the Botvinnik – Petrosian WCC match.

Jan-13-18  Petrosianic: <TheFocus> Here's the way Petrosian himself told the story, and it largely agrees with the story in Petrosian's Legacy. Petrosian's suggestion that Fischer's state support him was incredibly naive, of course. Sometimes the Soviet players didn't seem to realize what a sweetheart deal they had.

<It was suggested to hold the Fischer-Petrosian match in either the Soviet Union, America, Yugoslavia or Argentina. As might have been expected, it soon became clear that neither side was willing to play on his opponent's home ground.

It always gives me great pleasure to be in Yugoslavia, I like the country, and its hospitable people. It can even be said that the countryside is very similar to that in the Caucasus, and to my beloved Armenia. Similar too, are men's natures, even the food ... in Yugoslavia there would be no language barrier for me, since Serbo-Croat is very like Russian. Finally, it is well known that the Yugoslavs are brilliant tournament organizers.

But I nonetheless declined to play in Yugoslavia, and here is why.

From 1955 up to the match with Fischer, I have played 13 times in Yugoslavia. I have played in official and friendly, team and individual events. I have played as a young grandmaster, as a world championship challenger, and as World Champion; even as ex-World Champion. . . .

Yet in those 17 years, my best results in Yugoslavia have been no higher than 3rd. I have clear memories of terrible blunders in those tournaments, even of putting queens en prise. In such an important competition the memory of these games could have very bad consequences. So I decided that I did not have the moral right to play the match in Yugoslavia.

That left Argentina. From a sporting point of view my results there have been quite good. At the same time I realized that our match would coincide with the extremely damp, suffocating Argentinian spring. I am now no longer so young as to be indifferent to climatic conditions. I can't stand dampness, and I have never been able to rest in our Black Sea resorts. So Argentina was by no means an inviting prospect for me, but there was no alternative. . . .>

Jan-13-18  Petrosianic: (cont.)

<Just at that moment an unexpected telegram arrived from Greece. The members of that country's chess federation wanted to know why we had not replied to their invitation to hold the match in Athens.

In fact we had never received any invitations from them. As it I turned out, it had got as far as Euwe, but he did not think it was necessary to pass it on to us, since he reasoned that Argentina should be given the preference, as chess is very popular there, and, most important, the financial conditions were better.

About that time the Yugoslav grandmaster Gligoric rang me and asked if I didn't want to speak to Fischer over the phone? I said I didn't mind, but that my English was probably insufficient, as was no doubt Fischer's Russian. Gligoric offered to help us here. As a result an unusual conversation came about, on one end, in Moscow, myself, on the other, Fischer in New York, and in the middle, in Belgrade, Gligoric, working as interpreter for both of us.

The conversation lasted quite a long time, and the main topic was the choice of venue for the match. Fischer said that he wanted to play in Argentina, since the money was good, and they prepared good steaks there. I replied that the conditions in general were more important to me, particularly climatic conditions. Gligoric then said 'Fischer says it doesn't matter, FIDE will anyway decide to play the match in Argentina.' I replied angrily that no-one was able to force, me to play in Argentina, and in that event Fischer could play with anyone else, but not with me.

Soon the Greek chess federation announced that it was prepared to provide the very best match conditions, and to top anything that Argentina could provide in the way of money. It appeared that, following Euwe's and Fischer's declared principles, their offer should be given the preference.

But matters turned out otherwise. The final decision was referred to the FIDE congress, which once again favoured a drawing of lots.

Another lottery... a lottery, which took a strange course. In recent years the international chess federation has generally employed a complex form of lot-drawing - double lottery. First it is decided which of the interested parties should draw the lot, and then the second, decisive draw is made. A double lottery was also made in Canada.

It would have appeared reasonable to have, if not disinterested parties, then at least little children make the preliminary drawing of lots, as generally occurs in such situations. But here it was not to be.

The wife of the representative of the Danish chess federation, Mrs Scholer, was invited to make the first draw. She chose the ticket marked 'USA'. This meant that the main draw was to be made by the representative of the American chess federation, Mr Edmondson. But Edmondson's wife said 'Mrs Scholer, you drew the first lot so well, that I entreat you to draw the second as well'. Mrs Scholer, as might have been expected, drew the ticket marked 'Argentina'. . . .>

Jan-13-18  Petrosianic: The version I posted is from the Vik Vasiliev book and probably written earlier than the one in Petrosian's Legacy.

From that version you can glean that he was annoyed with Euwe for not even mentioning the Greek bid. Fischer's comment may seem untactful, but that may have been a translation hiccup on Gligoric's part. I wouldn't read too much into that. The Double Lottery system seems hopelessly convoluted (to me), where you have a lottery that doesn't count to see who will draw in the lottery that does count.

One thing that isn't clear is that according to this account, Greece was willing to top the Argentine bid. But that was only mentioned in passing and not expounded upon. If that really happened, Fischer probably would have preferred Greece also. Maybe it was an example of Fischer being unwilling to alter his position, or maybe they never formally submitted the topping bid. It's not clear.

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Just putting my SHERLOCK hat on ere for a moment ..

<Petrosianic> and <tpstar>

Hmmmmm !

lol lol

Jan-13-18  Petrosianic: <harrylol> This is a big boys conversation lol. If you don't understand the relevance it has to Fischer-Spassky, then you haven't been paying attention lol. Which is not unusual, but it's hardly our problem lol.

But since you admit you hate Fischer anyway, and are proving it right now by trying to disrupt conversations about him, exactly like I told everybody you did, then what do you care lol?

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Just put <Harrylime> on ignore, and be done with it...its actually quite refreshing to have him completely blocked out


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: And miss out on the tpstar banter? Never! It's a fitting homage to Fischer that his page is filled with egomaniacs. Put another popcorn in the microwave.
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <morfishine: Just put <Harrylime> on ignore, and be done with it...its actually quite refreshing to have him completely blocked out *****>

Putting anyone on IGNORE on this site is an admission of defeat !

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <Petrosianic: <harrylol> This is a big boys conversation lol. If you don't understand the relevance it has to Fischer-Spassky, then you haven't been paying attention lol. Which is not unusual, but it's hardly our problem lol. But since you admit you hate Fischer anyway, and are proving it right now by trying to disrupt conversations about him, exactly like I told everybody you did, then what do you care lol?>

You are <tpstar>

Just a punt ..

But putting my PETROSIAN ATTACK CAP on ere ..

Hmmm ! lol lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <MissScarlett: <Hazz>, how everyone will be shocked when our book on Fischer is published.>

RJF .. who this thread is about .. Wouldn't be.

Aint that sad ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <Petrosianic: <harrylol>: <You're either A) My stalker/groupie on this site now>

Um, you came after me, remember? I never mentioned you brought your Fischer-hating self into the mix.



Um, you're the one who confessed to hating Fischer, remember? lolol.

For the saner readers, note that I re-told the story about how Harrylol confessed to hating Fischer in his presence, and he did not deny it.>

This was a reply to <tpstar> .. not you .. so why reply ??

lol lol lol

<tpstar> ? lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <<harrylime: <tpstar: <harrylime> Speaking of Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972) you shouldn't boast too loudly when you were kicked off the Fischer page this week for profane content. Besides, he just said you were the real Fischer hater.> You're either

A) My stalker/groupie on this site now



I reckon it's the latter .. just like your idol THE PENGUIN lol lol>>

Just to bury this in to this site for a bit .. lol lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <tpstar> IS <Petrosianic>

Job done x


Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: This IS the GREATEST chess match EVER ..

This thread may suck. This match ROCKS .

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Sneaky> LOL Good point !
Jan-15-18  Petrosianic: As you can see, Harrylol cannot stand to see Fischer discussed, and will do anything to drag such discussions off topic. Adding to that the fact that he admits he hates Fischer, it's not hard to see why.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Fischer might have preferred Argentina because he had played there before. Greece was an unknown entity?
Jan-15-18  Petrosianic: Could be, although the real point here is how far can FIDE go when the players don't agree on a location. They can flat out force you with the threat of a forfeit. But at least then they tried to make it fair with a lottery. But until Kirsan, if both players agreed, they were pretty much free to do what they wanted.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<HeMateMe> Fischer might have preferred Argentina because he had played there before. Greece was an unknown entity?>

Given that Fischer was mostly interested in playing the match in the country that would offer the most money, he certainly would have been interested in Argentina since they bid the second highest amount, $ 150K vs. Belgrade's $ 152K. Greece had originally bit only $ 52K, although they might have raised it later. But there was such a large gap between Greece's bid and the bids of other sites that I doubt that Greece could have or would have raise their bit to a level where they would have been competitive with the highest bidders.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <morfishine: Just put <Harrylime> on ignore, and be done with it...its actually quite refreshing to have him completely blocked out.>

Every sensible person has done this. becomes a beautiful place with <Harrylime> on ignore!

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <offramp> I've contacted broccoli/Fleming Productions and submitted you as a future script writer for any retro 60s Bond type films they may choose to make. Just giving you a heads up, should they call.
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