Fischer vs Spassky chess board could fetch $300,000 at Heritage Auctions



2016-11-01 11:38:47

The chess board used by Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in one of the most famous chess tournaments of all time is up for sale at Heritage Auctions.

The 1972 World Chess Championship series in Reykjavik, Iceland represented a battle for intellectual supremacy between East and West at the height of the Cold War.

Bearing the signatures of both players, the historic wooden board is expected to sell for more than $300,000.

For many of those who watched in fascination, the 1972 World Chess Championship series represented something far larger than dominance of a board game.

Both men were geniuses, but whereas Boris Spassky was calculated, unemotional and trained by the state, Bobby Fischer was unpredictable, self-taught and obsessive.

Described as "the highest stakes chess competition ever waged", it became a metaphor for the conflict between the ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union.

(Images: Heritage Auctions)

(Images: Heritage Auctions)

According to former World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov:

"I think the reason you look at these matches probably was not so much the chess factor but to the political element, which was inevitable because in the Soviet Union, chess was treated by the Soviet authorities as a very important and useful ideological tool to demonstrate the intellectual superiority of the Soviet communist regime over the decadent West.

"That's why the Spassky defeat was treated by people on both sides of the Atlantic as a crushing moment in the midst of the Cold War."

The board offered at Heritage Auctions was used for the final 15 games of the tournament, after the original stone board was replaced following game six.

Fischer had just taken the lead in the series for the first time, and never let it go. The final 15 matches saw four further wins for Fischer, just one for Spasky, and ten draws, with the series ending 12½–8½.

The board also comes complete with period replicas of the equipment Fischer and Spasky used, including a matching table created by Icelandic furniture designer Gunnar Magnusson immediately after the tournament; two matching personal side tables; a set of Staunton pieces, held in reserve but never used for the 1972 tournament; and an original Garde chess clock, identical in design to the one used during the series.

The Heritage Sports Collectibles catalogue auction takes place online on November 17-19.

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