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World Chess Championships 1972 (3)

Chess set used in Fischer's first ever win against Spassky sold

Spassky against Fischer in 1972.

Spassky against Fischer in 1972. |

Auction house Weiss Auctions (See their Entry and photos for the set) has sold the chess set used in the infamous Game 3 of the World Chess Championship Match of 1972 between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky for $67,500. The game was the first ever win by Fischer over Spassky and followed a game 2 default by Fischer. The win allowed Fischer to settle down to play chess and he came back from 2-0 down to score 6.5 points from the next 8 games. The chess set is both nice and part of history, there were only two chess sets used in the match, this and the one used for the rest of the match. This one was presented to Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson. In a different sale some very personal Fischer letters sold for almost $10,000.

Boris Spassky vs Bobby Fischer chess set from 1972 Game 3. Photo ©

Bobby Fischer's continued participation in the match was very much in the air when he played Game 3. He was complaining about noise that most others found inaudible and was 2-0 down after losing a drawn game in game one and refusing to play game two. Game three was played in an ante-room set aside for table-tennis and was monitored by a close circuit monitor. Fischer played the Benoni, regarded as rather dubious at the time (for a world title match at least), and demolished Spassky for his first ever win. He never looked back.

As the auction site says:

There were two chess sets used at the 1972 World Chess Championship: this set for the 3rd game only, and another set for all the other games which is now in possession of The Chess Memorial Museum in Reykjavik. This chess set was given to Guomundur Thorarinsson, the President of the Icelandic Chess Federation as a birthday present in 1972. Comes with a letter of authenticity which is signed by Guomundur Thorarinsson (President), and Hilmar Viggosson (Treasurer). Also included is a photocopy of the minutes from a board meeting dated November 18, 1972 written in Icelandic. Item number 13 states that the chess set was presented to Mr. Thorarinsson as a gift. A translation of item 13 is "Agreed to present to Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson as a gift a chess board and chessmen used in the match". Incredible piece with provenance!!

The estimate was $30,000 - $50,000 but the final price exceeded this with a final bid of $67,500 plus 13% buyers premium of $8775 for a total of $76,275. I also have to say that the design looks as close to perfection for a chess set as I have seen.

The board pictured was signed by both players in 1972 but wasn't used in the match.

The set used for the remaining games of the match is on display in Iceland and will never come up for sale.

There can't be a better moment to sell this set as interest of the match due to a documentary called "Bobby Fischer against the World" (Bobby Fischer vs. The Rest of the World was the title of a great account of the match written by Brad Darrasch that Fischer hated and although sensationalist it does have the ring of truth about the 1972 match which Darrasch attended as when Fischer re-emerged in 1992 the voice of Fischer presented in the book was the same) and a new book by Frank Brady on Fischer - whose original book was a bit of a fairy story that hid much of his dark side (as a teenager I used to worship at the alter of Fischer based on this kind of inaccurate account - now I just love his games) but now has produced what many say is the definitive account so far - have increased interest in this legend of the game.

The Wikipedia entry on the match describes the game in this way:

Game 3 proved to be the turning point of the match. Lombardy wrote of the beginning of the game:

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.

After (Spassky with White) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 (Benoni Defense, ECO code A61) 7.Nd2 Nbd7 8.e4 Bg7 9.Be2 O-O 10.O-O Re8 11.Qc2, Fischer demonstrated his acute intuitive feel for the position with 11... Nh5!? Allowing White to shatter Black's kingside pawn structure looks antipositional, but Fischer's assessment that his kingside attack created significant counterplay proved correct.

Surprised by Fischer's novelty, Spassky did not react in the best way. In particular, his 18th move, weakening the light squares, was a mistake.

White: Boris Spassky

Black: Robert James Fischer

28th World Chess Championship Reykjavik 16th July 1972 Game 3

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Nd2 Nbd7 8. e4 Bg7 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O Re8 11. Qc2 Nh5 12. Bxh5 gxh5 13. Nc4 Ne5 14. Ne3 Qh4 15. Bd2 Ng4 16. Nxg4 hxg4 17. Bf4 Qf6 18. g3 Bd7 19. a4 b6 20. Rfe1 a6 21. Re2 b5 22. Rae1 Qg6 23. b3 Re7 24. Qd3 Rb8 25. axb5 axb5 26. b4 c4 27. Qd2 Rbe8 28. Re3 h5 29. R3e2 Kh7 30. Re3 Kg8 31. R3e2 Bxc3 32. Qxc3 Rxe4 33. Rxe4 Rxe4 34. Rxe4 Qxe4 35. Bh6 Qg6 36. Bc1 Qb1 37. Kf1 Bf5 38. Ke2 Qe4+ 39. Qe3 Qc2+ 40. Qd2 Qb3 41. Qd4 Bd3+ 0-1

Boris Spassky vs Bobby Fischer chess set from 1972 Game 3. Photo ©

Boris Spassky vs Bobby Fischer chess set from 1972 Game 3. Photo ©

In addition some extremely personal letters with Fischer apologising to girl-friend Zita and revealing that she had two abortions See details and photos from the Philip Weiss Auctions website sold for $9887.50 including buyers premium.

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