Auction of a fabled chessboard

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

40 years after the Fischer-Spassky "Match of the Century" in 1972, one of the chessboards that was used during the match is up for auction. Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen offers the chess board together with the chess table and two matching side tables, of which three copies were created, as well as chess pieces and a clock that were used in training sessions.

The following is based on a press release by Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers 

The Match of the Century took place in the summer of 1972, when the three times reigning Russian World Champion Boris Spassky (1937-) was challenged by the American Bobby Fischer (1943-2008). The match took place in Reykjavik, Iceland, at the peak of the Cold War, and thus became a symbol of the political confrontation between the two superpowers. Bobby Fischer won the dramatic, hyper-exposed showdown in Reykjavik, making him the first American to win this prestigious title.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the world famous chess match, Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen will, this summer, be offering the chessboard used during the legendary chess match in Iceland in 1972. The chessboard up for auction was used from the famous 7th game of the match and onwards until the 21st game.

Bobby Fischer was unhappy with several aspects of the match, including the chessboard’s mineral materials, the size of the squares and the presence of the cameras. He demanded that these aspects be changed and when his demands were not immediately met, he sat out the 2nd game, which he therefore lost without a fight.

2-0 down, many believed that the match was over and that Fischer would leave Iceland. He agreed, however, to play the 3rd game in an adjoining room on the chessboard up for auction, without spectators or cameras. What’s more, the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had urged Bobby Fischer to beat Spassky, so not only was there a sporting interest in the chess match, but there were also international political undertones.

The lava board was replaced by the chessboard up for auction in the 7th–21st game. The appearance of the wooden board in the match would thus become a crucial turning point in the historic battle between the two post-war superpowers, the USA and the USSR. The chessboard is signed by the two competitors, Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

The signed chessboard up for auction was used from the 7th game and onwards until the 21st game. In addition, the original contemporary Staunton pieces and chess clock, are also up for auction. Both originate from the 1972 match equipment, which consists of extra pieces, board and clock for analyzing purposes during unfinished games or simply as extra spare parts. 

The chess table with two matching side tables was designed by Icelandic furniture designer Gunnar Magnússon and made by cabinetmaker Ragnar Haraldsson. It is one of two identical tables, that was made immediately after the match in 1972, and has since been used, among other things, at the World Championships candidate match between Boris Spassky and Vlastimil Hort in Reykjavik in 1977.

Gunnar Magnússon’s first chess table was used throughout the match, with the exception of the infamous 3rd game played in an adjoining room. Today, the chess table, lava stone board, the pieces and the clock from the 1st game of the match belong to the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik.


International auction at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen of the board, chess pieces, table and clock used in the match. Estimate: DKK 1,200,000-1,800,000.

Preview and auction

Bruun Rasmussen’s international auction 830 at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen

Preview: Thursday 31 May – Monday 4 June 2012
Auction: Thursday 14 June at 5 pm.

For further information, please contact director of sales and estimates Peter Christmas-Møller on tel. +45 8818 1004 / Cell. +45 6035 1004 or e-mail


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