Boris Spassky
Overview
 
Boris Vasilievich Spassky (also Spasskij; ; born January 30, 1937) is a Soviet-French chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 grandmaster. He was the tenth World Chess Champion, holding the title from late 1969 to 1972. He is known as one of the greatest and oldest living chess players.

Spassky won the Soviet Chess Championship twice outright (1961, 1973), and twice more lost in playoffs (1956, 1963), after tying for first during the event proper.
Quotations

When I am in form, my style is a little bit stubborn, almost brutal. Sometimes I feel a great spirit of fight which drives me on.

We were like bishops of opposite color.

On the breakup of his first marriage.

Which do I prefer? Sex or chess? It depends on the position.

After I won the title, I was confronted with the real world. People do not behave naturally anymore - hypocrisy is everywhere.

In my country, at that time, being a champion of chess was like being a King. At that time I was a King … and when you are King you feel a lot of responsibility, but there is nobody there to help you.

I don’t want ever to be champion again.

I enjoy life, sometimes with a good bottle of wine! But don't count on me in tournaments that demand a lot of nervous energy, like the French championship. I am empty; these are not for me anymore.

I believe that judged by his style of play, Spassky is much closer to Alekhine and Tal than to Smyslov, Botvinnik, or Petrosian. This is probably why, when Spassky was in his best form, neither Tal nor Korchnoi could really put up much resistance against him. Spassky could read their play (especially that of Tal) like an open book.

The universal chess style, characterized by the ability to play quite different types of chess positions, is considered by many to derive from that of Boris Spassky. But I think that the general idea that Spassky has a universal style overlooks the fact that from an early age, Spassky had a bent for sharp, attacking play and a good eye for the initiative.

It is characteristic that Spassky has never in his life started a game with 1.Nf3. He must have considered it a 'semi-move', real moves being only those that lead to an immediate fight. All of those notorious opening peculiarities (such as avoiding this, that, and the other and preventing the other that and this) seemed repulsive to him.

Encyclopedia
Boris Vasilievich Spassky (also Spasskij; ; born January 30, 1937) is a Soviet-French chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 grandmaster. He was the tenth World Chess Champion, holding the title from late 1969 to 1972. He is known as one of the greatest and oldest living chess players.

Spassky won the Soviet Chess Championship twice outright (1961, 1973), and twice more lost in playoffs (1956, 1963), after tying for first during the event proper. He was a World Chess Championship
World Chess Championship
The World Chess Championship is played to determine the World Champion in the board game chess. Men and women of any age are eligible to contest this title....

 candidate on seven occasions (1956, 1965, 1968, 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1985).

Spassky defeated Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was a Soviet-Armenian grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else...

 in 1969 to become World Champion, then lost the title in the Fischer–Spassky match in 1972, one of the most famous chess matches in history.

Early life

He was born in Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 (now Saint Petersburg) to a Russian mother and father, and learned to play chess at the age of five on a train evacuating from Leningrad during World War II, and first drew wide attention in 1947 at age ten, when he defeated Soviet champion Mikhail Botvinnik
Mikhail Botvinnik
Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik, Ph.D. was a Soviet and Russian International Grandmaster and three-time World Chess Champion. Working as an electrical engineer and computer scientist at the same time, he was one of the very few famous chess players who achieved distinction in another career while...

 in a simultaneous exhibition
Simultaneous exhibition
A simultaneous exhibition or simultaneous display is a board game exhibition in which one player plays multiple games at a time with a number of other players. Such an exhibition is often referred to simply as a "simul".In a regular simul, no chess clocks are used...

. His early coach was Vladimir Zak, a respected master and trainer. During his youth, from the age of ten, Spassky often worked on chess for up to five hours a day with master
Chess master
A chess master is a chess player of such skill that he/she can usually beat chess experts, who themselves typically prevail against most amateurs. Among chess players, the term is often abbreviated to master, the meaning being clear from context....

-level coaches. He set records as the youngest Soviet player to achieve first category rank (age ten), candidate master rank (age eleven), and Soviet Master
Chess master
A chess master is a chess player of such skill that he/she can usually beat chess experts, who themselves typically prevail against most amateurs. Among chess players, the term is often abbreviated to master, the meaning being clear from context....

 rank (age fifteen). In 1952, at fifteen, Spassky scored 50 percent in the Soviet Championship semifinal at Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, and placed second in the Leningrad Championship
Leningrad City Chess Championship
The Leningrad City Chess Championship is a chess tournament held officially in the city of Leningrad, Russia starting from 1920. The city was called Petrograd from 1914 to 1924, then Leningrad until 1991, and Saint Petersburg afterwards...

 that same year, being very praised by Botvinnik.

Young Grandmaster

Spassky made his international debut in 1953, aged sixteen, at a tournament in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, finishing tied 4th–5th with 12/19, an event won by his trainer, Alexander Tolush
Alexander Tolush
Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush was a Soviet Russian chess grandmaster. He was one of Boris Spassky's mentors. Tolush was born and died in Saint Petersburg...

, and where he defeated Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, and was World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958. He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship on eight occasions . Smyslov was twice equal first at the Soviet Championship , and his total of 17 Chess Olympiad medals won...

 who would challenge for the World Championship the following year. He was awarded the title of International Master by FIDE. In his first attempt at the Soviet Championship
USSR Chess Championship
This is a list of all the winners of the USSR Chess Championship. It was the strongest national chess championship ever held, with eight world chess champions and four world championship finalists among its winners...

 final, URS-ch22, Moscow 1955, at age eighteen, he tied for 3rd–6th places with 11½/19, after joint winners Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, and was World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958. He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship on eight occasions . Smyslov was twice equal first at the Soviet Championship , and his total of 17 Chess Olympiad medals won...

 and Efim Geller
Efim Geller
Efim Petrovich Geller was a Soviet chess player and world-class grandmaster at his peak. He won the Soviet Championship twice and was a Candidate for the World Championship on six occasions...

, which was sufficient to qualify him for the Gothenburg
Gothenburg
Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area...

 Interzonal
Interzonal
Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship cycle.- Zonal tournaments :...

 later that year.

The same year, he won the World Junior Chess Championship
World Junior Chess Championship
The World Junior Chess Championship is an under-20 chess tournament organized by the World Chess Federation ....

 held at Antwerp, Belgium, with the score of 14/16. Spassky competed for the Lokomotiv
Lokomotiv (sports society)
Lokomotiv is the Russian sports club and a member of the International Railway Sports Association.Lokomotive traces its history to the All-Union Voluntary Sports Society of rail transport workers' Trade Unions, one of the first sports societies of workers of the USSR. Established in 1936, it...

 Voluntary Sports Society.

By sharing 7th–9th place, with 11/20, at the 1955 Gothenburg
Gothenburg
Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area...

 Interzonal
Interzonal
Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship cycle.- Zonal tournaments :...

, he qualified for the 1956 Candidates' Tournament, held in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, automatically gaining the grandmaster title, and was then the youngest to hold the title. There, he finished in the middle of the ten-player field, tied 3rd–7th places with 9½/18. At the 1956 Soviet final, URS-ch23, held in Leningrad, Spassky shared 1st–3rd places on 11½/19, with Mark Taimanov
Mark Taimanov
Mark Evgenievich Taimanov is a leading Soviet and Russian chess player and concert pianist.-Chess:He was awarded the International Grandmaster title in 1952 and played in the Candidates Tournament in Zurich in 1953, where he tied for eighth place. From 1946 to 1956, he was among the world's top...

 and Yuri Averbakh
Yuri Averbakh
Yuri Lvovich Averbakh is a Soviet and Russian chess player and author. He is currently the oldest living chess grandmaster.-Life and career:...

, but Taimanov won the subsequent playoff to become champion. Spassky then tied for first with Tolush in a strong Leningrad tournament later in 1956.

Uneven results

After these early successes, Spassky then went into a slump in world championship qualifying events, failing to advance to the next two Interzonal
Interzonal
Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship cycle.- Zonal tournaments :...

s (1958 and 1962), a necessary step to earn the right to play for the World Chess Championship
World Chess Championship
The World Chess Championship is played to determine the World Champion in the board game chess. Men and women of any age are eligible to contest this title....

. This crisis coincides with the hard three final years of his first marriage before his divorce at 1961, the same year that he broke with his trainer Tolush.

In the 1957 Soviet final, URS-ch24 at Moscow, Spassky finished tied 4th–5th with 13/21, as Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal was a Soviet–Latvian chess player, a Grandmaster, and the eighth World Chess Champion.Widely regarded as a creative genius, and the best attacking player of all time, he played a daring, combinatorial style. His play was known above all for improvisation and unpredictability....

 won the first of his six Soviet titles, which began his ascent to the world title in 1960.

Spassky's failure to qualify for the 1958 Interzonal
Interzonal
Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship cycle.- Zonal tournaments :...

 came about after a last-round defeat at the hands of Tal, in a very nervy game in the 1958 Soviet final, URS-ch25 at Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

. He had the advantage for much of the game, but missed a difficult win after adjournment, then later declined a draw
Draw (chess)
In chess, a draw is when a game ends in a tie. It is one of the possible outcomes of a game, along with a win for White and a win for Black . Usually, in tournaments a draw is worth a half point to each player, while a win is worth one point to the victor and none to the loser.For the most part,...

. A win would have qualified him for the Interzonal, and a draw would have ensured a share of fourth place with Yuri Averbakh
Yuri Averbakh
Yuri Lvovich Averbakh is a Soviet and Russian chess player and author. He is currently the oldest living chess grandmaster.-Life and career:...

, with qualification possible via a playoff.

Spassky tied for first place at Moscow 1959 on 7/11, with Smyslov and David Bronstein
David Bronstein
David Ionovich Bronstein was a Soviet chess grandmaster, who narrowly missed becoming World Chess Champion in 1951. Bronstein was described by his peers as a creative genius and master of tactics...

. He nearly won the title at the next Soviet final, URS-ch26 at Tbilisi
Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis until 1936...

 1959, finishing half a point behind champion Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was a Soviet-Armenian grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else...

, in equal second place with Tal, on 12½/19. Soon after Spassky notched a victory at Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, 1959, with 11½/13. Spassky was in the middle of the pack at the next Soviet final, URS-ch27 at Leningrad, with 10/19, as fellow Leningrader Viktor Korchnoi
Viktor Korchnoi
Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi ; pronounced in the original Russian as "karch NOY"; Ви́ктор Льво́вич Корчно́й, born March 23, 1931 is a professional chess player, author and currently the oldest active grandmaster on the tournament circuit...

 scored his first Soviet title victory. Spassky travelled to Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, where he shared first place, ahead of Bronstein, at Mar del Plata 1960 with Bobby Fischer
Bobby Fischer
Robert James "Bobby" Fischer was an American chess Grandmaster and the 11th World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. Fischer was also a best-selling chess author...

 on 13½/15, defeating Fischer in their first career meeting.

Another disappointment for Spassky came at the qualifier for the next Interzonal, the Soviet final URS-ch28 at Moscow 1961, where he again missed advancing by one place, finishing tied 5th–6th with 11/19, as Petrosian won.

Title contender

Spassky decided upon a switch in trainers, from the volatile attacker Tolush, to the calmer strategist Igor Bondarevsky
Igor Bondarevsky
Igor Zakharovich Bondarevsky was a Soviet Russian chess Grandmaster in both over-the-board and correspondence chess, an International Arbiter, trainer, and chess author...

. This proved the key to his resurgence. He won his first of two USSR Championships
USSR Chess Championship
This is a list of all the winners of the USSR Chess Championship. It was the strongest national chess championship ever held, with eight world chess champions and four world championship finalists among its winners...

, URS-ch29, at Baku
Baku
Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

 1961, with a score of 14.5/20. Spassky shared 2nd–3rd at Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 1962 with 16/21, behind winner Miguel Najdorf
Miguel Najdorf
Miguel Najdorf was a Polish-born Argentine chess grandmaster of Jewish origin, famous for his Najdorf Variation....

. He placed joint 5th–6th at Yerevan
Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

 1962, URS-ch30, with 11.5/19. At Leningrad 1963, the site for URS-ch31, Spassky tied for first with Leonid Stein
Leonid Stein
Leonid Zakharovich Stein was a Soviet chess Grandmaster from Ukraine. He won three USSR Chess Championships in the 1960s , and was among the world's top ten players during that era.- Early life :...

 and Ratmir Kholmov
Ratmir Kholmov
Ratmir Dmitrievich Kholmov was a Russian chess Grandmaster. He won many international tournaments in Eastern Europe during his career, and tied for the Soviet Championship title in 1963, but lost the playoff...

, with Stein winning the playoff. Spassky won at Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 1964 with an undefeated 13/17, ahead of Korchnoi and Borislav Ivkov
Borislav Ivkov
Borislav Ivkov is a Serbian chess Grandmaster. He was the first ever World Junior Champion in 1951. He won the Yugoslav Championship in 1958 , 1963 and 1972. He was a World championship candidate in 1965, and played in four more Interzonal tournaments, in 1967, 1970, 1973, and 1979...

. He was fourth at Sochi
Sochi
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated just north of Russia's border with the de facto independent republic of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast. Greater Sochi sprawls for along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains...

 1964 with 9.5/15, as Nikolai Krogius
Nikolai Krogius
Nikolai Vladimirovich Krogius is a Russian Chess Grandmaster, International Arbiter , psychologist, chess coach, chess administrator, and author. He won several tournament titles at Sochi and in eastern European events, and appeared in seven Soviet finals from 1958–1971...

 won.

Then, in the 1964 Soviet Zonal at Moscow, a seven-player double round-robin
Round-robin tournament
A round-robin tournament is a competition "in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn".-Terminology:...

 event, Spassky won with 7/12, to advance to the Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 Interzonal the same year. At Amsterdam, he tied for 1st–4th places, along with Tal, Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, and was World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958. He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship on eight occasions . Smyslov was twice equal first at the Soviet Championship , and his total of 17 Chess Olympiad medals won...

, and Bent Larsen
Bent Larsen
Jørgen Bent Larsen was a Danish chess Grandmaster and author. Larsen was known for his imaginative and unorthodox style of play and he was the first western player to pose a serious challenge to the Soviet Union's dominance of chess...

, on 17/23, with all four, along with Borislav Ivkov
Borislav Ivkov
Borislav Ivkov is a Serbian chess Grandmaster. He was the first ever World Junior Champion in 1951. He won the Yugoslav Championship in 1958 , 1963 and 1972. He was a World championship candidate in 1965, and played in four more Interzonal tournaments, in 1967, 1970, 1973, and 1979...

 and Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik"...

, thus qualifying for the newly created Candidates' Matches the next year. With Bondarevsky, Spassky's style broadened and deepened, with poor results mostly banished, yet his fighting spirit was even enhanced. He added psychology and surprise to his quiver, and this proved enough to eventually propel him to the top.

Challenger

Spassky was considered an all-rounder on the chess board, and his adaptable "universal style" was a distinct advantage in beating many top grandmasters. In the 1965 cycle, he beat Paul Keres
Paul Keres
Paul Keres , was an Estonian chess grandmaster, and a renowned chess writer. He was among the world's top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s....

 at Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 1965 with careful strategy, triumphing in the last game to win 6–4 (+4 =4 −2). Also at Riga, he defeated Efim Geller
Efim Geller
Efim Petrovich Geller was a Soviet chess player and world-class grandmaster at his peak. He won the Soviet Championship twice and was a Candidate for the World Championship on six occasions...

 with mating attacks, winning by 5½–2½ (+3 =5 −0). Then, in his Candidates' Final match (the match which determines who will challenge the reigning world champion for the title) against Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal was a Soviet–Latvian chess player, a Grandmaster, and the eighth World Chess Champion.Widely regarded as a creative genius, and the best attacking player of all time, he played a daring, combinatorial style. His play was known above all for improvisation and unpredictability....

 the legendary tactician (Tbilisi
Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis until 1936...

 1965), Spassky often managed to steer play into quieter positions, either avoiding former champion Tal's tactical strength, or extracting too high a price for complications. Though losing the first game, he won by 7–4 (+4 =6 −1).

Spassky won two tournaments in the run-up to the final. He shared first at the Chigorin Memorial
Chigorin Memorial
The Chigorin Memorial is a chess tournament played in honour of the chess legend Mikhail Chigorin , founder of the Soviet School. The first and most important edition was the one played in 1909 in St. Petersburg. Later on, the tournament was mainly played in the Black Sea resort Sochi. From 1993...

 in Sochi
Sochi
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated just north of Russia's border with the de facto independent republic of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast. Greater Sochi sprawls for along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains...

, in 1965 with Wolfgang Unzicker
Wolfgang Unzicker
Wolfgang Unzicker was one of the strongest German chess Grandmasters from 1945 to about 1970.He decided against making chess his profession, choosing law instead....

 on 10½/15, then tied for first at Hastings
Hastings International Chess Congress
The Hastings International Chess Congress is an annual chess congress which takes place in Hastings, England, around the turn of the year. The main event is the Hastings Premier tournament, which was traditionally a 10 to 16 player round-robin tournament. In 2004/05 the tournament was played in the...

 1965–66 with Wolfgang Uhlmann
Wolfgang Uhlmann
Wolfgang Uhlmann is a prominent German International Grandmaster of chess. Despite being a dedicated professional chess player, and undoubtedly the GDR's most successful ever, he has also had a career in accountancy.-Chess career:...

 on 7½/9.

Spassky lost a keenly fought final match in Moscow, with three wins against Petrosian's four, with seventeen draws, though the last of his three victories came only in the twenty-third game, after Petrosian had already ensured his retention of the title. A few months after the match, however, Spassky finished ahead of Petrosian and a super-class field at Santa Monica
Santa Mônica
Santa Mônica is a town and municipality in the state of Paraná in the Southern Region of Brazil.-References:...

 1966 (the Piatigorsky Cup
Piatigorsky Cup
The Piatigorsky Cup was a triennial series of double round-robin grandmaster chess tournaments held in the United States in the 1960s. Sponsored by the Piatigorsky Foundation, only two events were held, in 1963 and 1966. The Piatigorsky Cups were the strongest U.S. chess tournaments since New...

), with 11½/18, half a point ahead of Bobby Fischer
Bobby Fischer
Robert James "Bobby" Fischer was an American chess Grandmaster and the 11th World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. Fischer was also a best-selling chess author...

. Spassky also won at Beverwijk
Corus chess tournament
The Tata Steel Chess Tournament formerly called the Corus chess tournament takes place every year, usually in January, in a small town called Wijk aan Zee, part of the larger Beverwijk in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands...

 1967 with 11/15 ahead of Anatoly Lutikov
Anatoly Lutikov
Anatoly Lutikov was a chess Grandmaster. He played from 1949 to 1983.-External links:...

, and shared 1st–5th places at Sochi
Sochi
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated just north of Russia's border with the de facto independent republic of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast. Greater Sochi sprawls for along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains...

 1967 on 10/15 with Krogius, Alexander Zaitsev, Leonid Shamkovich
Leonid Shamkovich
Leonid Aleksandrovich Shamkovich was a chess Grandmaster, and chess writer.He was born in a Jewish family in Rostov-on-Don in Russia...

, and Vladimir Simagin
Vladimir Simagin
Vladimir Simagin was a Russian Grandmaster of chess. He was three times Moscow champion , helped to train Vasily Smyslov to the World Championship, and made many significant contributions to chess openings...

.

As losing finalist in 1966, Spassky was automatically seeded into the next Candidates' cycle. In 1968, he faced Geller again, this time at Sukhumi
Sukhumi
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.-Naming:...

, and won by the same margin as in 1965 (5½–2½, +3 =5). He next met Bent Larsen
Bent Larsen
Jørgen Bent Larsen was a Danish chess Grandmaster and author. Larsen was known for his imaginative and unorthodox style of play and he was the first western player to pose a serious challenge to the Soviet Union's dominance of chess...

 at Malmö
Malmö
Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

, and won by 5½–2½. The final was against his Leningrad rival Viktor Korchnoi
Viktor Korchnoi
Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi ; pronounced in the original Russian as "karch NOY"; Ви́ктор Льво́вич Корчно́й, born March 23, 1931 is a professional chess player, author and currently the oldest active grandmaster on the tournament circuit...

 at Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, and Spassky triumphed (+4 −1 =5), which earned him another match with Petrosian, at Moscow 1969. Spassky's flexibility of style was the key to his eventual victory over Petrosian in the 1969 World Championship. Spassky won by 12½–10½.

World Champion

During Spassky's three-year reign as World Champion, he won several more tournaments. He placed first at San Juan
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan , officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista , is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of...

 1969 with 11½/15. He won a quadrangular event at Leiden 1970 with 7/12, ahead of Larsen, Botvinnik and Jan Hein Donner
Jan Hein Donner
Johannes Hendrikus Donner was a Dutch chess grandmaster and writer. Donner was born in The Hague and won the Dutch Championship in 1954, 1957, and 1958. FIDE, the World Chess Federation, awarded him the GM title in 1959. He played 11 times for the Netherlands in the Chess Olympiads...

. Spassky shared first at Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 1970 with Lev Polugaevsky
Lev Polugaevsky
Lev Abramovich Polugaevsky was an International Grandmaster of chess and frequent contender for the world chess championship, although he never achieved that title...

 on 11½/15. He was third at Gothenburg
Gothenburg
Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area...

 1971 with 8/11, behind winners Vlastimil Hort
Vlastimil Hort
Vlastimil Hort is a chess Grandmaster of Czech nationality. During the 1960s and 1970s he was one of the world's strongest players and reached the Candidates stage of competition for the world chess championship, but was never able to compete for the actual title.Hort was born in Kladno,...

 and Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson is a leading Swedish chess player. FIDE awarded him the International Master title in 1970 and the Grandmaster title in 1972 .-Career:...

. He shared first with Hans Ree
Hans Ree
Hans Ree is a Dutch Grandmaster of chess and is a columnist and chess writer for the NRC Handelsblad. He contributes to the leading chess magazines New In Chess and ChessCafe.com...

 at the 1971 Canadian Open Chess Championship
Canadian Open Chess Championship
The Canadian Open Chess Championship is Canada's Open chess championship, first held in 1956, and held annually since 1973, usually in mid-summer. It is organized by the Chess Federation of Canada....

 in Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

.

Spassky's reign as world champion lasted three years, as he lost to Fischer of the United States in 1972 in the "Match of the Century". The contest took place in Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, at the height of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, and consequently was seen as symbolic of the political confrontation between the two superpowers. Spassky accommodated many demands by Fischer, including moving the third game into a side room. The Fischer Spassky World championship was the most widely covered chess match in history, as mainstream media throughout the world covered the match. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke with Fischer urging him to play the match, and chess was at its apex. The match could not have occurred without Spassky's tremendous sportsmanship, accommodating many demands of Fischer, refusing to use these demands as an opportunity to win by forfeit.

Going into the match, Fischer had never won a game from Spassky in five attempts, losing three. In addition, Spassky had secured Geller as his coach, who also had a plus score against Fischer. However, Fischer was in excellent form, and won the title match convincingly (+7 −3 =11), with one of the three losses by default.

The match could be divided into halves, the first won convincingly by Fischer, and the second a close battle. Before Spassky, Taimanov, Larsen, and Petrosian, had lost convincingly to Fischer, but Spassky maintained his composure and competitiveness.

Ex-champion (1973–85)

Spassky continued to play some excellent chess after losing his crown, winning several championships. In 1973, he tied for first at Dortmund
Dortmund
Dortmund is a city in Germany. It is located in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Ruhr area. Its population of 585,045 makes it the 7th largest city in Germany and the 34th largest in the European Union....

 on 9½/15 with Hans-Joachim Hecht
Hans-Joachim Hecht
Hans-Joachim Hecht is a German chess player and twice the national champion. His first name is often abbreviated to Hajo....

 and Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson is a leading Swedish chess player. FIDE awarded him the International Master title in 1970 and the Grandmaster title in 1972 .-Career:...

. A very important victory for him was the 1973 Soviet Chess Championship at Moscow (URS-ch41). He scored 11½/17 in a field which included all the top Soviet grandmasters of the time.
In the 1974 Candidates' matches, Spassky first defeated American Robert Byrne in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 by 4½–1½ (+3 =3); he then lost the semifinal match to the up-and-coming Anatoly Karpov
Anatoly Karpov
Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov is a Russian chess grandmaster and former World Champion. He was the official world champion from 1975 to 1985 when he was defeated by Garry Kasparov. He played three matches against Kasparov for the title from 1986 to 1990, before becoming FIDE World Champion once...

 in Leningrad, despite winning the first game, (+1 −4 =6). Karpov had publicly acknowledged that Spassky was superior, but had nevertheless outplayed him. However, Spassky's chances were badly damaged by the defection of his coach, Geller, to Karpov's side before the match.

In 1976, Spassky was obliged to return to the Interzonal stage, and he was well short of qualifying from the Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 Interzonal
Interzonal
Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship cycle.- Zonal tournaments :...

, but was seeded into the Candidates' matches after Fischer declined his place. Spassky won an exhibition match with rising Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman
Jan Timman
Jan Timman is a Dutch chess Grandmaster who was one of the world's leading players from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. At the peak of his career he was considered to be the best non-Soviet player and was known as "The Best of the West"...

 at Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 1977 by 4–2. He triumphed narrowly in extra games in his first Candidates' match over Vlastimil Hort
Vlastimil Hort
Vlastimil Hort is a chess Grandmaster of Czech nationality. During the 1960s and 1970s he was one of the world's strongest players and reached the Candidates stage of competition for the world chess championship, but was never able to compete for the actual title.Hort was born in Kladno,...

 at Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

 1977 by 8½–7½. This match saw Spassky fall ill, exhaust all of his available rest days while recovering; then the healthy Hort, in one of the most sportsmanlike acts in chess history, used one of his own rest days, to allow Spassky more time to recover; Spassky eventually won the match.

Spassky won an exhibition match over Robert Hübner
Robert Hübner
Robert Hübner is a respected German chess Grandmaster, chess writer, and papyrologist . At eighteen, he was joint winner of the West German Chess Championship...

 at Solingen
Solingen
Solingen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the northern edge of the region called Bergisches Land, south of the Ruhr area, and with a 2009 population of 161,366 is the second largest city in the Bergisches Land...

, 1977 by 3½–2½, then defeated Lubomir Kavalek, also at Solingen, by 4/6 in another exhibition match. His next Candidates' match was against Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik"...

 at Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 1977, and Spassky won again, by 8½–6½, to qualify for the final. But at Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 1977, Spassky lost to Viktor Korchnoi by (+4 −7 =7).

Spassky, as losing finalist, was seeded into the 1980 Candidates' matches, and faced Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik"...

 again in Mexico. After fourteen games, the match was 7–7, but Portisch advanced since he had won more games with the black pieces. Spassky missed qualification from the 1982 Toluca Interzonal with 8/13, finishing half a point short in third place behind Portisch and Eugenio Torre
Eugenio Torre
Eugenio Torre is a chess Grandmaster . He is considered the strongest chess player the Philippines has ever produced during the 1980s and 1990s period, following the heels of Fischer-era Filipino chess champions National Master Ramon Lontoc, International Master Renato Naranja, IM Rodolfo Tan...

. The 1985 Candidates' event was held as a round-robin tournament at Montpellier
Montpellier
-Neighbourhoods:Since 2001, Montpellier has been divided into seven official neighbourhoods, themselves divided into sub-neighbourhoods. Each of them possesses a neighbourhood council....

, France, and Spassky was seeded in as an organizer's choice. He scored 8/15 to tie for 6th–7th places, behind joint winners Andrei Sokolov
Andrei Sokolov
Andrei Yurievich Sokolov is a French chess Grandmaster of Russian origin, now living in France...

, Rafael Vaganian
Rafael Vaganian
Rafael Artemovich Vaganian, also transliterated Vahanyan is an Armenian chess grandmaster known for his sharp tactical style of play...

, and Artur Yusupov
Artur Yusupov
Artur Mayakovich Yusupov is a German International Grandmaster of chess, and a chess writer.-Chess career:...

, but only four players advanced to matches. This was Spassky's last appearance at the Candidates' level.

International team results

Spassky played five times for the USSR in Student Olympiads, winning eight medals. He scored 38½/47 (+31 −1 =15), for an outstanding 81.91 percent. His complete results are:
  • Lyon
    Lyon
    Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

     1955, board 2, 7½/8 (+7 −0 =1), team gold, board gold;
  • Reykjavík
    Reykjavík
    Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

     1957, board 2, 7/9 (+5 −0 =4), team gold, board gold;
  • Varna
    Varna
    Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

     1958, board 2, 6½/9 (+4 −0 =5), team gold;
  • Leningrad
    Leningrad
    Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

     1960, board 1, 10/12 (+9 −1 =2), team silver;
  • Marianske Lazne
    Mariánské Lázne
    Mariánské Lázně is a spa town in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. The town, surrounded by green mountains, is a mosaic of parks and noble houses...

     1962, board 1, 7½/9 (+6 −0 =3), team gold, board gold.


Spassky played twice for the USSR in the European Team Championships, winning four gold medals. He scored 8½/12 (+5 =7 −0), for 70.83 percent. His complete results are:
  • Vienna
    Vienna
    Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

     1957, board 5, 3½/5 (+2 =3 −0), team gold, board gold;
  • Bath, Somerset 1973, board 1, 5/7 (+3 =4 −0), team gold, board gold.


Spassky played seven times for the Soviet Olympiad team. He won thirteen medals, and scored 69/94 (+45 −1 =48), for 73.40 percent. His complete results are:
  • Varna 1962
    15th Chess Olympiad
    The 15th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between September 15 and October 10, 1962, in Varna, Bulgaria.-References:* OlimpBase...

    , board 3, 11/14 (+8 −0 =6), team gold, board gold medal;
  • Tel Aviv 1964
    16th Chess Olympiad
    The 16th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between November 2 and November 25, 1964, in Tel Aviv, Israel.-References:* OlimpBase...

    , 2nd reserve, 10½/13 (+8 −0 =5), team gold, board bronze;
  • Havana 1966
    17th Chess Olympiad
    The 17th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between October 23 and November 20, 1966, in Havana, Cuba.-References:* OlimpBase...

    , board 2, 10/15, team gold.
  • Lugano 1968
    18th Chess Olympiad
    The 18th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between October 17 and November 7, 1968, in Lugano, Switzerland.-References:* OlimpBase...

    , board 2, 10/14, team gold, board bronze;
  • Siegen 1970
    19th Chess Olympiad
    The 19th Chess Olympiad, comprising an open team tournament and the Annual Congress of the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, took place between September 5 and September 27, 1970, in the small town of Siegen, West Germany.-Tournament report:...

    , board 1, 9½/12, team gold, board gold;
  • Nice 1974
    21st Chess Olympiad
    The 21st Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between June 6 and June 30, 1974, in Nice, France.-References:* OlimpBase...

    , board 3, 11/15, board gold, team gold;
  • Buenos Aires 1978
    23rd Chess Olympiad
    The 23rd Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between October 25 and November 12, 1978, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.-References:...

    , board 1, 7/11 (+4 −1 =6), team silver.


Spassky played board one in the USSR vs. Rest of the World
Russia (USSR) vs Rest of the World
There have been two chess matches featuring USSR vs. Rest of the World and 1 match Russia vs. Rest of the World. The first two matches were between a team from the USSR and a team of players from the "rest of the world"...

 match at Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 1970, scoring (+1 −1 =1) against Larsen.

Spassky then represented France in three Olympiads, on board one in each case. For Thessaloniki 1984
26th Chess Olympiad
The 26th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between November 18 and December 5, 1984, in Thessaloniki, Greece.-References:...

, he scored 8/14 (+2 −0 =12). At Dubai 1986
27th Chess Olympiad
The 27th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between November 14 and December 2, 1986, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.-References:...

, he scored 9/14 (+4 −0 =10). Finally at Thessaloniki 1988
28th Chess Olympiad
The 28th Chess Olympiad, organized by the FIDE and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between November 12 and November 30, 1988, in Thessaloniki, Greece.-References:...

, he scored 7½/13 (+3 −1 =9). He also played board one for France at the inaugural World Team Championships, Lucerne
Lucerne
Lucerne is a city in north-central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of that country. Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne and the capital of the district of the same name. With a population of about 76,200 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and...

 1985, where he scored 5½/9 (+3 −1 =5).

Later tournament career (after 1976)

In his later years, Spassky showed a reluctance to totally devote himself to chess. He relied on his natural talent for the game, and sometimes would rather play a game of tennis than work hard at the board. Since 1976, Spassky has lived in France with his third wife; he became a French citizen in 1978, and has competed for France in the Chess Olympiad
Chess Olympiad
The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete against each other. The event is organised by FIDE, which selects the host nation.-Birth of the Olympiad:The first Olympiad was unofficial...

s.

Spassky did, however, score some notable triumphs in his later years. He tied for first at Bugojno
Bugojno
Bugojno is a town and municipality of the same name in central Bosnia and Herzegovina on the river Vrbas. It is located in the Central Bosnia Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity. The town is to the northwest from Sarajevo, with an estimated population of 50,000 .To the west...

 1978 on 10/15, with Karpov. He was clear first at Montilla
Montilla
Montilla a town and municipality of southern Spain, in the province of Córdoba, 32 miles south of the provincial capital, Córdoba, by the Córdoba-Bobadilla railway. , the town had a population of 23,245. The olive oil of the district is abundant and good, and it is the peculiar flavour of the pale...

 – Moriles
Moriles
Moriles is a town in the province of Córdoba . As of 2005 it had a population of 3,874. The municipality covers an area of about 20 km² and has a population density of about 194 inhabitants/km²...

 1978 with 6½/9. At Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 1979, he tied for 1st–4th places with 8½/13, with Yuri Balashov
Yuri Balashov
-Chess career:He was awarded the grandmaster title in 1973. Balashov was Moscow Champion in 1970 and 2nd to Anatoly Karpov in the 1976 USSR Chess Championship. In 1977 he won Lithuanian Chess Championship. He finished 1st= at Lone Pine 1977 and 1st= at Wijk aan Zee 1982.Balashov represented the...

, Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson is a leading Swedish chess player. FIDE awarded him the International Master title in 1970 and the Grandmaster title in 1972 .-Career:...

 and Robert Hübner
Robert Hübner
Robert Hübner is a respected German chess Grandmaster, chess writer, and papyrologist . At eighteen, he was joint winner of the West German Chess Championship...

. He shared first at Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

, Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in 1980, on 10½/15 with Alexander Beliavsky
Alexander Beliavsky
-External links:...

. He won his preliminary group at Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 1982 with a powerful 5½/6, but lost the final playoff match to Anatoly Karpov in extra games (Learn From Your Defeats, by Anatoly Karpov, Batsford
Batsford
Batsford is a village and civil parish in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 99. The village is about 1½ miles north-west of Moreton-in-Marsh...

 1985). His best result during this period was clear first at Linares
Linares chess tournament
The Linares International Chess Tournament , is an annual chess tournament, usually played around the end of February, takes its name from the city of Linares in the Jaén province of Andalusia, Spain, in which it is held...

 1983 with 6½/10, ahead of Karpov and Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson is a leading Swedish chess player. FIDE awarded him the International Master title in 1970 and the Grandmaster title in 1972 .-Career:...

, who shared second. At London Lloyds' Bank Open 1984, he tied for first with John Nunn
John Nunn
John Denis Martin Nunn is one of England's strongest chess players and once belonged to the world's top ten. He is also a three times world champion in chess problem solving, a chess writer and publisher, and a mathematician....

 and Murray Chandler
Murray Chandler
Murray Graham Chandler is a New Zealand chess grandmaster who has played internationally for that nation and for England, after gaining citizenship there in the early 1980s...

, on 7/9. He won at Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

 1985. At Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 1985, he placed second with 10½/13 behind Korchnoi. At Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia chess tournament
The Reggio Emilia chess tournament is a chess tournament played in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In Italian the tournament is called Torneo di Capodanno , as it starts just after Christmas and ends on the day of Epiphany...

 1986, he tied for 2nd–5th places with 6/11 behind Zoltán Ribli
Zoltan Ribli
Zoltán Ribli is a Hungarian chess grandmaster and International Arbiter . He was twice a World Championship Candidate and three times Hungarian Champion.-A career in chess:...

. He swept Fernand Gobet
Fernand Gobet
Fernand Gobet is a cognitive scientist and a cognitive psychologist, currently Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Brunel University. His research interests focus on the study of cognition, especially in the areas of cognitive architectures, perception, intuition, problem solving, learning and...

 4–0 in a match at Fribourg
Fribourg
Fribourg is the capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg and the district of Sarine. It is located on both sides of the river Saane/Sarine, on the Swiss plateau, and is an important economic, administrative and educational center on the cultural border between German and French Switzerland...

 1987. He finished equal first at Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

 1988 with Chandler and Eduard Gufeld
Eduard Gufeld
Eduard Yefimovich Gufeld was a Soviet International Grandmaster of chess, and a chess author.By the late 1950s he established himself as one of the strongest players in the world...

. Spassky maintained a top ten world ranking into the mid-1980s.

However, Spassky's performances in the World Cup events of 1988 and 1989 showed that he could by this stage finish no higher than the middle of the pack against elite fields. At Belfort
Belfort
Belfort is a commune in the Territoire de Belfort department in Franche-Comté in northeastern France and is the prefecture of the department. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap or Burgundian Gate .-...

 WC 1988, he scored 8/15 for a joint 4th–7th place, as Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov
Garry Kimovich Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time....

 won. At Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

 WC 1988, he scored 7/17 for a joint 15th–16th place, with Kasparov again winning. Finally, at Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 WC 1989, Spassky scored 7½/16 for a tied 8th–12th place, as Kasparov shared first with Ljubomir Ljubojevic
Ljubomir Ljubojevic
Ljubomir Ljubojević is a Grandmaster of chess. He was born on November 2, 1950, in Titovo Užice, Yugoslavia . Ljubojević was awarded the International Master title in 1970 and the GM title in 1971. He was Yugoslav champion in 1977 and 1982. He won the 1974 Canadian Open Chess Championship...

.

Spassky played in the 1990 French Championship
French Chess Championship
The French Chess Championship is the annual, national chess tournament of France. It was officially first played in 1923after the formation of the Fédération Française des Echecs in 1921. The first unofficial national tournament was played in 1880, in the Café de la Régence, where further edition...

 at Angers
Angers
Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

, placing fourth with 10½/15, as Marc Santo Roman won. At Salamanca
Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

 1991, he placed 2nd with 7½/11 behind winner Evgeny Vladimirov
Evgeny Vladimirov
Evgeny Vladimirov is a chess Grandmaster from Kazakhstan. Vladimirov took on the computer program Hydra in August 2004 and lost three games and drew one....

. Then in the 1991 French Championship, he scored 9½/15 for a tied 4th–5th place, as Santo Roman won again.

In 1992, Bobby Fischer, after a twenty-year hiatus from chess, re-emerged to arrange a "Revenge Match of the 20th century" against Spassky in Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

 and Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

; this was a rematch of the 1972 World Championship. At the time, Spassky was rated 106th in the FIDE
Fédération Internationale des Échecs
The Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation is an international organization that connects the various national chess federations around the world and acts as the governing body of international chess competition. It is usually referred to as FIDE , its French acronym.FIDE...

 rankings, and Fischer did not appear on the list at all, owing to his inactivity. This match was essentially Spassky's last major challenge. Spassky lost the match with a score of +5 −10 =15. Spassky then played young female prodigy Judit Polgár
Judit Polgár
Judit Polgár is a Hungarian chess grandmaster. She is by far the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, the youngest person ever to do so at that time.Polgár was ranked No...

 in a 1993 match at Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, losing narrowly with 4.5–5.5

Spassky continued to play occasional events through much of the 1990s, such as the Veterans versus Women series.

On October 1, 2006, Spassky suffered a minor stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 during a chess lecture in San Francisco. In his first major post-stroke play, he drew a six-game rapid match with Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 Grandmaster Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik"...

 in April 2007.

On September 23, 2010, ChessBase
ChessBase
ChessBase GmbH is a German company that markets chess software, maintains a chess news site, and operates a server for online chess. Set up in 1998, it maintains and sells massive databases, containing most historic games, that permit analysis that had not been possible prior to computing...

 reported that Spassky had suffered a more serious stroke that had left him paralyzed on his left side. After that he returned to France for a long rehabilitation programme, where he is recovering so well that he is expected to take part in the Botvinnik Memorial 2011 tournament in Suzdal
Suzdal
Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated northeast of Moscow, from the city of Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. Population: -History:...

 (Russia).

Spassky is the oldest living former world champion.

Legacy

Spassky's best years were as a youthful prodigy in the mid 1950s, and then again as an adult in the mid to late 1960s. He seemed to lose ambition once he became World Champion. Some suggest the first match with Fischer took a severe nervous toll, but others would disagree as he was the unusual sportsman who seemed to appreciate his opponent's skill. He applauded one well-played game of Fischer, and attempted to defend Fischer when he faced jailing.

Some might suggest his preparation was largely bypassed by Fischer, but the match saw several important novelties by Spassky. Instead, Fischer was an incredible player in 1972, having won an unprecedented 20 games in a row, and Spassky probably showed he was number 2, and the match saw many enjoyable games. While one suggested he felt the disappointment of his nation for losing the title, others would say he conceived of himself as his own man and after the match took French citizenship. He had the equanimity to appreciate what was the chess event of the century, as chess occupied the spotlight for almost a year.

Never a true openings
Chess opening
A chess opening is the group of initial moves of a chess game. Recognized sequences of opening moves are referred to as openings as initiated by White or defenses, as created in reply by Black. There are many dozens of different openings, and hundreds of named variants. The Oxford Companion to...

 maven, at least when compared to contemporaries such as Geller and Fischer, he excelled in the middlegame with highly imaginative yet usually sound and deeply planned play, which could erupt into tactical violence as needed.

Spassky succeeded with a wide variety of openings, including the King's Gambit
King's Gambit
The King's Gambit is a chess opening that begins with the moves:White offers a pawn to divert the Black e-pawn so as to build a strong centre with d2–d4...

, 1.e4 e5 2.f4, an aggressive and risky line rarely seen at the top level. Indeed, his record of sixteen wins (including victories against Fischer, Bronstein, and Karpov), no losses, and a few draws with the King's Gambit is unmatched. The chess game between "Kronsteen" and "McAdams" in the early part of the James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 movie From Russia With Love
From Russia with Love (film)
From Russia with Love is the second in the James Bond spy film series, and the second to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Released in 1963, the film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young. It is based on the 1957 novel of the...

is based on a game in that opening played between Spassky and David Bronstein
David Bronstein
David Ionovich Bronstein was a Soviet chess grandmaster, who narrowly missed becoming World Chess Champion in 1951. Bronstein was described by his peers as a creative genius and master of tactics...

 in 1960 in which Spassky ("Kronsteen") was victorious.

His contributions to opening theory extend to reviving the Marshall Attack for Black in the Ruy Lopez
Ruy Lopez
The Ruy Lopez, also called the Spanish Opening or Spanish Game, is a chess opening characterised by the moves:-History:The opening is named after the 16th century Spanish priest Ruy López de Segura, who made a systematic study of this and other openings in the 150-page book on chess Libro del...

 (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5), developing the Leningrad Variation for White in the Nimzo-Indian Defence
Nimzo-Indian Defence
The Nimzo-Indian Defence is a chess opening characterised by the moves:This hypermodern opening was developed by Grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch who introduced it to master-level chess in the early 20th century. Unlike most Indian openings the Nimzo-Indian does not involve an immediate fianchetto,...

 (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5), the Spassky Variation on the Black side of the Nimzo-Indian, and the Closed Variation of the Sicilian Defence
Sicilian Defence
The Sicilian Defence is a chess opening that begins with the moves:The Sicilian is the most popular and best-scoring response to White's first move 1.e4...

 for White (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3). Another rare line in the King's Indian Attack
King's Indian Attack
The King's Indian Attack , also known as the Barcza System , is a chess opening system for White, most notably used by Bobby Fischer. Its typical formation is shown in the diagram to the right....

 bears his name: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5!?

Spassky is respected as a universal player, a great storyteller, a bon vivant on occasion, and someone who is rarely afraid to speak his mind on controversial chess issues, and who usually has something important to relate.

Notable chess games


Further reading

  • Spassky's Best Games by Bernard Cafferty, Batsford, 1969.
  • World chess champions by Edward G. Winter, editor. 1981 ISBN 0-08-024117-4
  • No Regrets: Fischer–Spassky by Yasser Seirawan; International Chess Enterprises; March 1997. ISBN 1-879479-08-7
  • Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time by David Edmonds and John Eidinow; Ecco, 2004.
  • Garry Kasparov
    Garry Kasparov
    Garry Kimovich Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time....

     (2004). My Great Predecessors, part III. Everyman Chess
    Everyman Chess
    Everyman Chess is a major publisher of books and CDs about chess. The company was formerly called Cadogan Chess. "Everyman" is a registered trademark of Random House and the company headquarters is in London. Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov is their chief advisor and John Emms is the...

    . ISBN 1-85744-371-3

External links

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