Fischer-Spassky 1972, game 3, chess set auctioned

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
Fischer-Spassky chess set auctionedIt's one of the most famous stories in chess history. After losing the first, Bobby Fischer didn't show up for the second game of the 1972 World Championship match against Boris Spassky. The American was 0-2 down, and demanded that the third game would be played in a small room backstage. He won this game, and eventually the match. The chess set on which this third game was played, will be auctioned on Saturday, April 2nd. Update: Phil Weiss of Weiss Auctions informed us that the set sold for $76,275 with the buyers premium.

Chess fans can still watch the chess set on which the "Match of the Century" Fischer-Spassky was played in 1972. This set is on display at the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik, where it is kept under a glass cover.

However, for the legendary third game, which was played in a small room backstage, out of sight of the spectators, a different chess set was used. This set was given to Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson as a birthday present by the Icelandic Chess Federation in October 1972. At the time, Thorarinsson was President of the federation. The chess set has been in his private ownership ever since.

However, next Saturday the chess set is an item up for auction by Philip Weiss in New York. The auction will take place on April 2nd, at 10 AM eastern time (16:00 CET).

According to the information given by the auction house, the chess set was signed by both players and, to remove any last doubts, it also comes with a letter of authenticity. Besides, an interesting small extra note reads: 'Also a Collection of Personal Letters from Bobby Fischer.' This alone will attract the interest of collectors worldwide.

Fischer-Spassky chess set auctioned

The third game can be seen as a turning point of the match. In his 'A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma' from 1974 Lombardy wrote of the beginning of the game:

Spassky agreed to play the third game in the Ping-Pong room, though he acknowledged later it was a great psychological error. Fischer was willing to permit a remote-control, closed-circuit TV to monitor the proceedings; he never objected to remote-control cameras if they operated silently.

When Bobby arrived, Boris was, as usual, seated at the table. Bobby did not sit down but went around inspecting the television equipment, and at this point Boris betrayed indignant agitation. Bobby tested the remote-control camera for possible sources of noise. Schmid watched the proceedings and became anxious. He felt the match once more was in jeopardy. Schmid took Bobby by the arm in an effort to get him to the playing table. Bobby brushed off Schmid's entreaties. "The American grandmaster permitted himself great liberty in his remarks, which were very disagreeable to hear," Spassky said later. Finally satisfied with the camera, Bobby settled down for the match.


The game is also famous because it saw the birth of a revolutionary idea in the King's Indian / Benoni middlegame: the move ...Nf6-h5, when White can shatter Black's pawn structure by taking it with his bishop and Black having to take back with ...gxh5. Later it turned out that the move wasn't the best in this specific position, but when he faced it behind the board, Spassky couldn't cope with the problems that arose. Here's the game:

Game viewer by ChessTempo


We thank to Olafur Gauti Gudmundsson for the tip.

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