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Boris Spassky. Part 1

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World Champ. Spassky


In that previously mentioned 1971 Boris Spassky was the necessary  actor to set the scene for me to start playing chess . I remember he was my father’s favourite and cannot explain why  he has always drawn my attention even though in 1978 I chose Karpov as my model (In fact, I knew nothing about chess and had to learn by myself and on my own mainly using newspaper chess cuttings and , later , Chess books).

Twelve years  had to pass between the  first time we   got into postal contact and the moment we  met each other when he visited, with his wife,  my home town in 2007. The three intense days I spent with him I will change for nothing. We spoke about everything under the stars and these lovely memories will remain with me forever.


In my humble subjective opinion, Boris Spassky is one of the most paradoxical personalities in the pantheon  of Chess gods. I consider him one of the strongest and rounded chessplayer in the history of the ancient game. But his road crossed with a dazzling, bewildering Fischer… (if you want to know everything about the inside story , I would recommend you the book “Russians Vs. Fischer”)

A brief summary of Spassky’s World Championship career will throw light on the previous and the next statements:

Born: 30.01. 1937
International Master  :1953

Grandmaster: 1955

Youth World Chess Championship: 1955

Candidate: Amsterdam 1964.

Candidates’  Matches 1965:

Spassky -Keres:  +4  -2  =4

Spassky – Geller:  +3  -0  =5

Spassky – Tal :   4  -1  =5  , qualifying t play for the Chess World Championship against the current Champion T. Petrosian. In that match held in 1966 in Moscow, Spassky lost by  +3  -4  =17.

In 1968 Spassky had to start over again playing the Candidates’ Matches:

Spassky – Geller:  +3  -0  =5

Spassky – Larsen:  +4  -1  =3

Spassky – Korchnoi: +4  -1  =5

In 1969 he met Petrosian again and the result was:

Spassky – Petrosian : +6  -4  =13, so becoming Champion of the World.

In 1972 he had to defend the Title against Bobby Fischer (USA) and he lost dramatically by +3  -11  =7.

In 1974 he played again in the Candidates’  Matches:

Spassky-R. Byrne : won  +3  -0  =3

Spassky-Karpov : lost : +1  -4  =6

In 1977 he qualifies again for the Candidates’  Matches.

Spassky-Hort: +2  -1  =13  (won)

Spassky-Portisch:  +4  -2  =9  (won)

Spasky-Korchnoi : +4  -7  =7  (lost)

In 1992 Fischer reappeared challenging Boris to a rematch . Spassky , always fond of Bobby, stated he was there to help Fischer. The result was +5 -10 =15.

Spassky also played in many team events and Chess Olympiads.

After spending many years thinking about all this , I realized that there is a strange duality permeating Boris’ life. His life was not easy, though in the sixties he was a sort of blue-eyed boy to the Soviet establishment, which allowed him many curious details.  In the book “Bobby Fischer Goes to War”, many interesting facts can be found too. You can also have a try at Solty’s  “The Best Games of Boris Spassky”, Cafferty’s  “Boris Spassky Master of Tactics” and  “Boris Spasky’s 300 Wins” or Pachman’s book on the 1972 match.

Spassky’s Chess hero is Alekhine. They are very similar in their  approach to Chess  . On the surface, Spassky shows no emotions -except when speaking to an audience!. Bobby Fischer  was well aware of  this feature. Karpov too: when Fischer lost the second game by default and managed to play the next one in a locked room with no public,  so blowing up Boris’ balance, Karpov said  ” that was a master strike against the  philosopher Spassky, the unruffled Spassky, the highly experienced Spassky” .  The underlying criticism is conspicuous… And GM Leonid Yudasin once stated that “Spassky’s inner self was chaotic” -by the way, the same perhaps to an even higher degree could be said of Alekhine-

This duality shows itself in his approach to Chess since he is considered the most genuine representant of the so-called “universal style” (difficult to define,  it can be understood considering that the player is able to play sparkling tactical attacking games and closed, manoeuvring , strategical masterpieces with the same degree of dexterity and without having a especial penchant for one  type of game or another. This is why I speak of a duality.)

With also an “artistical temperament”, he was able to gather tons of energy (and manage to win to successive Candidates’ Matches cycles + a World Championship), or fall prey of his temperament succumbing to the side-effects of it…

Spassky himself has written that : ” All great chessplayers are difficult characters . Difficult in their uniqueness, their peculiarity and the necessity always to be a fighter and a man.” So, the above-mentioned, always-present duality…

In this respect, many authors have copied each other writing the same things which are neither true nor clearly verifiable…

(To be continued…/…)



Written by QChess

March 15, 2012 at 8:44 am

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