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Fischer - Spassky Match

Robert James Fischer17.5/30(+10 -5 =15)[view games]
Boris Spassky12.5/30(+5 -10 =15)[view games] Historical Chess Event
Fischer - Spassky (1992)
This match would officially be known as <The World Chess Championship. The Chess Champion Robert James Fischer vs. the Challenger Boris Spassky. The Revenge Match of the Twentieth Century.>

Fischer 1 = = 0 0 = 1 1 1 = 1 0 = = = 1 1 = = 0 1 = = = 1 0 = = = 1 10 Spassky 0 = = 1 1 = 0 0 0 = 0 1 = = = 0 0 = = 1 0 = = = 0 1 = = = 0 5

The match started at the beginning of September and went until the first week of November, 1992.


FAC No. 129405
Dear Mr. Fischer:

It has come to our attention that you are planning to play a chess match for a cash prize in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) (hereinafter "Yugoslavia") against Boris Spassky on or about September 1, 1992. As a U.S. citizen, you are subject to the prohibitions under Executive Order 12810, dated June 5, 1992, imposing sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. The United States Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control ("FAC"), is charged with enforcement of the Executive Order.

The Executive Order prohibits U.S. persons from performing any contract in support of a commercial project in Yugoslavia, as well as from exporting services to Yugoslavia. The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the performance of your agreement with a corporate sponsor in Yugoslavia to play chess is deemed to be in support of that sponsor's commercial activity. Any transactions engaged in for this purpose are outside the scope of General License No. 6, which authorizes only transactions to travel, not to business or commercial activities. In addition, we consider your presence in Yugoslavia for this purpose to be an exportation of services to Yugoslavia in the sense that the Yugoslav sponsor is benefitting from the use of your name and reputation.

Violations of the Executive Order are punishable by civil penalties not to exceed $10,000 per violation, and by criminal penalties not to exceed $250,000 per individual, 10 years in prison, or both. You are hereby directed to refrain from engaging in any of the activities described above. You are further requested to file a report with this office within 10 business days of your receipt of this letter, outlining the facts and circumstances surrounding any and all transactions relating to your scheduled chess match in Yugoslavia against Boris Spassky. The report should be addressed to: The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Enforcement Division, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Annex - 2nd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20220. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Merete M. Evans at (202) 622-2430.

Sincerely, (signed)
R. Richard Newcomb
Office of Foreign Assets Control


In 1974, World Champion Bobby Fischer resigned his FIDE title after negotiations collapsed for his title defense against challenger Anatoly Karpov, though this resignation was not accepted, and he held the title of champion until being deemed in default in April 1975. Although he surfaced from time to time, he played no significant chess after the Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972) crown, and lived most of the next seventeen years in abject poverty.

In 1992, female Hungarian chess player Zita Rajcsanyi began exchanging letters with Fischer, in which he indicated he wanted to play chess again.

Zita was able to get in touch with Janos Kubat, who had rescued the 1990 Chess Olympiad in Novi Sad when it suffered from organizational problems, and from their meeting, negotiations began that would eventually lead to contracts being signed on July 11th for a match between Fischer and Boris Spassky; the bid for the match being won by Yugoslav businessman Jezdimir Vasiljevic. The bid specified a prize fund of $5,000,000, the biggest ever offered in chess.

Bobby’s unconditional demands specified that a clock that he had patented was to be used; there were to be no adjournments; the winner would be the first to win 10 games, draws not counting; FIDE was in no way to be involved; and the match was to be played for the World Championship title, which Fischer still held himself to be, as he had only vacated the FIDE title.

Match Specifications

In addition to these demands, the match would start in Sveti Stefan, an island off the coast of Montenegro, one of the two remaining states of Yugoslavia. After a player wins five games, the match would take a 10-day recess and continue play in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, the other remaining state of Yugoslavia.

Games were to played on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, starting at 3:30 pm and played until conclusion. If a game finished within an hour, the next game starts immediately. This would eliminate very short draws, thus depriving the spectators.

A player could take up to four sickness time-outs in the first 30 games, but only with a medical certificate from the Match Health Committee.

Press conferences are held every Monday. Questions for Fischer are submitted in advance in writing. He chooses which questions to answer. Spassky answers oral questions.

The winner gets $3.35 million, the loser $1.65 million, U.S. funds

The “50 Move Rule” is applied with no exceptions.

GM Lothar Schmid of Germany, arbiter of the 1972 match, repeats as match arbiter here. Fischer’s second is GM Eugenio Torre of the Philippines. Spassky is seconded by IM Aleksander S Nikitin and GM Yuri Balashov. GM Borislav Ivkov is also a member of Spassky’s team.

Fischer Chess Clock

Fischer applied in 1989 for a U.S. patent on a clock he had designed, but the patent was only granted mere weeks before the start of the match. The main feature of the Fischer Clock is bonus time awarded with each move completed. If the bonus time is a minute, a player never has less than a minute to complete his move. Thus, time scrambles are eliminated. A player can still lose the game on time, but he never needs to rush.

In the 1992 match, both players start with one hour and fifty-one minutes. After 40 moves both players get a 40-minute gift, after 60 moves, 30 minutes and after 80 and each succeeding 20 moves, 20 minutes. The gifts are in addition to the regular bonus of one minute a move.

Because of the newness of the clock, Fischer played a 10-game training match with Svetozar Gligoric, winning +3=6-1, to get used to the new time controls.


Although Fischer maintained that he would like to continue playing matches, negotiations for further matches were unsuccessful and this match was the last series of official games played by Fischer, who passed away at the age of 64 in 2008.

Original collection: Game Collection: 0, by User: TheFocus.

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 30  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Fischer vs Spassky 1-050 1992 Fischer - SpasskyC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
2. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½59 1992 Fischer - SpasskyE80 King's Indian, Samisch Variation
3. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½39 1992 Fischer - SpasskyC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
4. Spassky vs Fischer 1-050 1992 Fischer - SpasskyD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
5. Fischer vs Spassky 0-145 1992 Fischer - SpasskyC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
6. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½61 1992 Fischer - SpasskyD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
7. Fischer vs Spassky 1-044 1992 Fischer - SpasskyC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
8. Spassky vs Fischer 0-140 1992 Fischer - SpasskyE84 King's Indian, Samisch, Panno Main line
9. Fischer vs Spassky 1-021 1992 Fischer - SpasskyC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation, 6.d4
10. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½68 1992 Fischer - SpasskyE34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
11. Fischer vs Spassky 1-041 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
12. Spassky vs Fischer 1-054 1992 Fischer - SpasskyE83 King's Indian, Samisch
13. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½45 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
14. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½32 1992 Fischer - SpasskyD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
15. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½33 1992 Fischer - SpasskyE07 Catalan, Closed
16. Spassky vs Fischer 0-134 1992 Fischer - SpasskyA56 Benoni Defense
17. Fischer vs Spassky 1-058 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB23 Sicilian, Closed
18. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½36 1992 Fischer - SpasskyD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
19. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½84 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB23 Sicilian, Closed
20. Spassky vs Fischer 1-043 1992 Fischer - SpasskyA07 King's Indian Attack
21. Fischer vs Spassky 1-067 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB44 Sicilian
22. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½26 1992 Fischer - SpasskyA07 King's Indian Attack
23. Fischer vs Spassky ½-½80 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB23 Sicilian, Closed
24. Spassky vs Fischer ½-½39 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB20 Sicilian
25. Fischer vs Spassky 1-035 1992 Fischer - SpasskyB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 30  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This match should have been played in the Souvenir Shop at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Jun-03-15  TheFocus: <I have nothing to do with politics. I came here (Yugoslavia) to play chess and nothing else> - Bobby Fischer.
Jun-05-15  A.T PhoneHome: My feeling is that Fischer seriously didn't study chess anymore after his 1972 match with Spassky.

After winning the World Championship, he had to get out of it and he knew that if he had a tiny look at some new niceties in chess theory afterwards, he would be absorded by the game again.

What helped Fischer in this particular match, was his massive understanding of the game and having that, he was able to play out-of-date lines because he had the technique and understanding to back him up in case of a surprise.

To have a take on another topic; apologies to everyone for going off-topic...

I think that Fischer said things about chess and its next top players, because he wanted himself to think that if post-1972 chess was any worse than the one he himself played, there was no reason to make a comeback. My opinion (note, opinion) is that Fischer wanted to play more, but nearing 1972, he had a reality check and thought that being hassled by reporters, chess organizers and Soviet rivals etc. had to stop, because he had to start thinking about life outside of chess and he was drained.

Jun-05-15  Everett: <TheFocus: <I have nothing to do with politics. I came here (Yugoslavia) to play chess and nothing else> - Bobby Fischer.>

It seems he played chess there to make money.

Jun-05-15  diceman: <Everett: <TheFocus: <I have nothing to do with politics. I came here (Yugoslavia) to play chess and nothing else> - Bobby Fischer.>

It seems he played chess there to make money.>

What a greedy SOB.

Win the title in 72.
...ring the register in 92.'d never see Kasparov, Anand, Carlsen, playing for "profit."

Jun-05-15  Petrosianic: Nah, he played there to stick it to the US for ruling against him in the Fischer vs. Darrach case. He could have made the same money in lots of places. It was all about politics.
Jun-05-15  alfiepa: Mu tribute lo late Bobby tracing his footsteps in Iceland
Jun-05-15  RookFile: Maybe the key to getting Fischer to play was to have the US government tell him he couldn't. Too bad they didn't do that back in 1975 or thereabouts.
Jun-05-15  A.T PhoneHome: Well, in 1975, things were a bit different; namely, Fischer had no beef with the United States of America.
Jun-05-15  Petrosianic: This is not well remembered. It only got a tiny story in Chess Life & Review.

But Fischer had sued Brad Darrach over "Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World". He didn't sue him over the CONTENT of the book, only that a book had been written at all (Darrach had promised not to write one).

Fischer lost the case, since no money had changed hands, nothing signed, and so the promise wasn't enforceable. When he lost, Fischer swore that he wouldn't pay another penny in Federal Income Tax until he got justice in the case (meaning the outcome that he wanted). And that's where his beef with the US seems to have started.

Jun-05-15  A.T PhoneHome: So it was either FIT or playing chess in Yugoslavia.
Jun-05-15  Everett: Maybe Fischer was just a douche.
Jul-23-15  Mr 1100: What was Fischer's performance rating in this match?
Jul-24-15  Petrosianic: About 2640, as I recall.
Jul-24-15  john barleycorn: 2618 is the number I have for Fischer.
Jul-24-15  Howard: The now-defunct Inside Chess gave both Fischer and Spassky's performance ratings for the match. Remind me to dig out that particular issue so as to look it up.
Jul-24-15  Howard: Stop the presses ! Chessmetrics gives Fischer's TPR as 2672 for that match.
Jul-24-15  Petrosianic: We can get a rough idea. Spassky's January 1992 rating was 2545

So 10 wins = 2945x10 = 29,450
15 draws = 2545x15 = 38,175
5 losses = 2145x5 = 10,725

Total = 78,350 / 30 = <2611.667>, or round up to 2612.

So I guess we all went over the actual retail price.

Jul-25-15  RookFile: I had heard 2640, myself. A basic problem I have is that of course Spassky was stronger than 2545. The man had been champion of the world, and if playing a match again against Fischer didn't motivate him again, nothing else would. My guess is that Spassky played at 2600 and Fischer was 2700 for that match. Naturally if Fischer kept playing, there would be no reason why he couldn't keep improving, if he wanted to.
Jul-25-15  john barleycorn: <RookFile: I had heard 2640, myself. A basic problem I have is that of course Spassky was stronger than 2545. The man had been champion of the world, and if playing a match again against Fischer didn't motivate him again, nothing else would...>

I definitely agree with your view. Spassky was motivated and may have activated resources in himself that were sleeping for a long time.

The pure number crunching is not adequate I think. However, it is the way it is done and people like to draw conclusions from it.

Jul-25-15  john barleycorn: Kasparov attested at best 2600ish play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: Calculating a TPR in a match is nonsense, as at best seen in case of a drawn match between two very differently rated players :D
Jul-25-15  kkdogg: On Fischer's strength, Kasparov's exact quote was:

"Bobby is playing okay, nothing more. Maybe his strength is 2600 or 2650".

If we say Fischer's true chess strength was 2650 (perhaps generous, but keep in mind that Kasparov was not one to give Fischer excess credit), that would be disappointing, but only by today's standards. He would not be in the top 100 today.

But we should consider rating inflation and the context of 1992. A 2650 would be #11 in the world. (In 1992, the #9 player in the world was Yusupov and Salov (tied) at 2655).

As a point of comparison, I looked at Karpov. When he was in the same period of his life (I arbitrarily chose the July 2000 list), he was ranked #12.

Karpov, of course, is one of the strongest players that ever lived, and his ranking relative to his peers at 48 was not all that different than Fischer's. (We can quibble if it was a little better or worse). When you considered that Fischer hadn't played a competitive game in 20 years, that's really remarkable.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <SChesshevsky> Can't agree with this: <Defending the title is a lot tougher than winning the title> Not hardly
Jul-25-15  RookFile: I don't have the slightest problem in saying that a guy who hadn't played in 20 years was out of practice. By the same token, remember that we're talking about somebody that went from a class A player to US champ in roughly a year. Certainly if Fischer wanted to, there's no reason to think he couldn't have rapidly increased his strength over the 2650 level.
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