Boris Spassky (Any views)



1- Spassky became World Champion by beating Petrosian. Fischer had also beaten Petrosian twice: in the Match USSR-Rest of the World and in the Candidates. Fischer came back after his retirement in 1969 much stronger than ever before. Nevertheless Spassky beat Fischer at the Siegen Olympiad 1970. I tend to agree that Spassky was stronger than Fischer prior to 1971.

2- Make no mistake: Taimanov, Larsen and Petrosian were absolute top players before their match against Fischer. After their severe beating they all suffered from the psychological blow Fischer dealt them. Do not forget that in the Match USSR - Rest of the World it was Larsen who played board 1 and Fischer board 2.


4- They mainly prepared for 1 e4, but they briefly looked at the Tartakover-Makagonov-Bondarevsky in case Fischer would by surprise play 1 d4 and Geller told Spassky about the move Qb7, though Fischer took pride of having never opened 1 d4 on principle. He played 1 c4 which transposed.

Spassky by his own account said that he felt the burden of responsibility as the World Champion, responsible for chess in the USSR and for chess in general.

Game 1 surprise: no King's Indian, no Grünfeld, but Nimzo-Indian. Spassky did well, they were on to a draw. Fischer missed the draw 39...e5 Spassky 1 - Fischer 0

Game 2: Fischer refused to play Spassky 2 - Fischer 0

Game 3: Surprise: Benoni. Very strong Fischer play lead to a win. Spassky 2 - Fischer 1

Game 4: Spassky played the Sicilian as they had prepared. Fischer got nothing. Draw. Spassky 2.5 - Fischer 1.5

Game 5: Nimzo-Indian: Very strong Fischer play lead to a win Spassky 2.5 - Fischer 2.5

Game 6: Surprise: 1 c4. Spassky went for the system they had prepared in case of 1 d4, but forgot Qb7. Spassky 2.5 - Fischer 3.5

Game 7: Najdorf Poisoned Pawn as prepared, draw

Game 8: English, draw

Game 9: No Nimzo, no Benoni, but Queen's Gambit, draw

Game 10: Probably the best game of the match. Ruy Lopez Breyer. Spassky lost, but found back his fighting spirit.

Game 11: Najdorf poisoned pawn, Fischer lost horribly

Game 12: Queen's Gambit, draw

Game 13: Surprise: Alekhine Defence. Weak opening play by Spassky, Fischer won.

Game 14: Queen's Gambit, draw

Game 15: Sicilian, but surprise 6 Bg5 instead of 6 Bc4 as usual and as prepared and as game 4. Draw

Game 16: Ruy Lopez exchange as prepared, draw

Game 17: Surprise: Pirc Defence. draw

Game 18: Again Sicilian with Bg5, draw

Game 19: Alekhine Defence, but surprise 4...Bg4 draw

Game 20: Again Sicilian Bg5, draw

Game 21: Sicilian, surprise 2...e6. Fischer won

Game 22: match was over

Game 23: match was over

Game 24: match was over

tygxc wrote:

Game 4: Spassky played the Sicilian as they had prepared. Fischer got nothing. Draw. Spassky 2.5 - Fischer 1.5

Actually, in game 4 Fischer got LESS than nothing out of the opening. Spassky was very close to a win in the middle game. For instance, instead of 29. ... Rh8 Spassky might have played the intermezzo 29. ... Rd8! and only after 30. c3 would he play 30. ... Rh8. This maneuver would obstruct the c3 square, preventing White's clutch defense 32. Qc3 which managed to draw.


What I meant is Benko gave up his seat to Fischer in  that big tournament--otherwise Fischer would not have been world champ;.



In the 4th game Fischer played the weak a3 instead of the better e5.

Bottom line: whenever Fischer played into Spassky's preparation, he got nothing, but whenever Fischer evaded Spassky's preparation, he scored.


Spassky was low on time on many games that were draws. Game 7 is one of them as well iirc. He was winning, but Fischer was always the faster player, so he had time to defend perfectly or close to it, so spassky had literally only 1 win, not counting game 1 cuz of that. This happened in a few other games too. Many of the drawn games were ones in which spassky had some advantages but either Fischer defended perfectly or spassky was too low on time. Reshevky speaks about this on his book, iirc.


Not counting game 1 is daft. Fischer's loss can be explained only by blindness to the possibility that a draw was the best result available. He certainly miscalculated - in a position where he would not be expected to - as it was a shock to him to find out Bxh2 led to a losing position.

Spassky got two wins over the board and one default.


29...Bxh2 was not losing: 39...e5 could hold the draw.


Fischer arrived late at the board in many games. Nowadays you must be present when the game starts, but then you were allowed to be 1 hour late, you just lost time on your clock.


Krogius wrote in his book that Spassky's team eventually advised Boris to go to his lounge room and wait for Fischer there. Bobby was startled when he came late and didn't find Boris at the board, and only once came late to the game after that.

tygxc wrote:

29...Bxh2 was not losing: 39...e5 could hold the draw.

  1. I am not convinced the position after 39. ...e5 is a draw
  2. Spassky had played what look like inaccuracies between the two moves. If so, 39. ....e5 is irrelevant to whether the position after 29. ...Bxh2 was losing (I am pretty sure it was).

One thing for certain... the move 29. ... Bxh2 was based on an oversight. Fischer admitted as much in a 1992 interview.


1. Game 1 39...e5 is a draw, e.g. 40 Bf8 Kxe3 41 Bxg7 Kd4 42 Bxf6 Kc5 43 Bd8 Kb4 44 Kf3 Kxa4 45 Ke4 Kb5 46 Kd5 a5 or 40 Kg4 g6 Be7 Kxe3 42 Bxf6 Kd4

2. What inaccuracy do you mean? Spassky's play was impeccable after move 29.


Of course it was an oversight. After 29...Bxh2 he can barely save a draw with 39...e5, while without 29...Bxh2 the draw is easy. Fischer probably overlooked that 32...h3 fails to 33 Kg4 Bg1 34 Kxh3 Bxf2 35 Bd2


Regarding Fischer's unsuccessful piece-for-two-Pawns sacrifice in game 1 of the 1972 match... isn't it curious that in game 1 of the 1992 match (twenty years later), Spassky sacrificed a piece for two Pawns with the same unsuccessful outcome?



Yes. But the first was a pawn grab that turned into an involuntary sacrifice. wink.png

Can't quite recall the latter.


Spassky magic with the closed Sicilian which surprised Geller.

The deadly f-pawn attack

EscherehcsE wrote:

Fischer was the better chess player, but Boris was the better person. Don't forget, when Bobby refused to play after the match had begun, Boris could have taken the title with him back to the Soviet Union. But he didn't; He *wanted* to play Bobby.

Very true. The game of chess greatly benefited from Spassky's good sportmanship in 1972 and suffered from the debacle that denied everyone what would have been a tremendous Fischer-Karpov World Championship match.