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Robert James Fischer vs Boris Spassky
“Best by Protest” (game of the day Feb-20-2007)
Fischer – Spassky World Championship Match (1972), Reykjavik ISL, rd 6, Jul-23
Queen’s Gambit Declined: Tartakower Defense. Exchange Variation (D59)
1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 b6 8. cd5 Nd5 9. Be7 Qe7 10. Nd5 ed5 11. Rc1 Be6 12. Qa4 c5 13. Qa3 Rc8 14. Bb5 a6 15. dc5 bc5 16. O-O Ra7 17. Be2 Nd7 18. Nd4 Qf8 19. Ne6 fe6 20. e4 d4 21. f4 Qe7 22. e5 Rb8 23. Bc4 Kh8 24. Qh3 Nf8 25. b3 a5 26. f5 ef5 27. Rf5 Nh7 28. Rcf1 Qd8 29. Qg3 Re7 30. h4 Rbb7 31. e6 Rbc7 32. Qe5 Qe8 33. a4 Qd8 34. R1f2 Qe8 35. R2f3 Qd8 36. Bd3 Qe8 37. Qe4 Nf6 38. Rf6 gf6 39. Rf6 Kg8 40. Bc4 Kh8 41. Qf4
The name Bobby Fischer, at least to Americans, is synonymous with chess. A prodigy in the 50s, a world class player in the 60s, the 70s saw Fischer at his pinnacle. He earned the right to challenge Boris Spassky in a title run without comparison, defeating Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen with perfect scores of 6-0, and ex-champion Petrosian 6½-2½. Now the stage was set, and the only thing standing between Fischer and Spassky was Fischer himself.
The match was mired in political overtones, during the height of the Cold War. The Soviet chess system had a monopoly on the title since 1948, and the expectations on Spassky were enormous. While Fischer studied chess virtually in seclusion, Spassky had the full resources of the USSR. Victor Baturinsky, head of Soviet Chess Sports Committee, said: “Basically, the Soviet leadership and the powers that be in sport, were interested in just one issue: how to stop Fischer from becoming World Champion.
With the match set to begin in Reykjavik, Iceland, Fischer (who had not signed any documents confirming his participation) began to make a number of demands, including a percentage of television rights, a larger prize fund, and all manner of conditions covering everything from the lighting to the chair cushions. To satisfy Bobby’s demands of a larger prize fund, British chess promoter James Slater donated a dazzling $125,000 to be added to the prize fund. Fischer still needed more convincing by Bill Lombardy (Fischer’s last-minute choice as second), and one famously persuasive telephone call from Henry Kissinger. Mere hours before he would be forfeited, Fischer arrived in Iceland.
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