Boris Spassky

Boris Spassky – biography

This chess genius is truly a universal player. Boris Spassky finely perceived positional factors and considered the dynamic part. He was born on the 30th of January, 1937 in Leningrad. 

The playing talent appeared at an early age. It only took the future World Champion a year to reach the first-category rank. It happened in 1947. A year later he won the Soviet Youth Championship. After that, the player started to receive a scholarship. Boris’s family wasn’t well-off. His father left, so the 12-year-old kid was the only source of earnings. 

The sweeping rise

Boris’ future was naturally determined from childhood. Spassky’s first trainer was famous specialist Vladimir Zak. According to Boris, the tutor used to feed him first. And after that, he showed the boy how to play. The next trainer for the young talent was the attack master Alexander Tolush. He taught little Boris the art of attack. 

In 1954, Spassky qualified for the USSR Championship. It was his first time. The young man took the 3rd-6th places there. The same year, the player celebrated success at the Youth World Championship. Then, he went to the Interzonal Tournament that was taking place in Sweden. Nine players got into the Candidates Tournament. He was one of them, taking the 7th-9th places. What an impressive boost with the new trainer!

In 1956, Boris Spassky fought for the right to participate in the World Championship. It was happening in Amsterdam and his attempts weren’t successful. But he was just 19. As a result of winning against the champion Smyslov once, he took 3rd place. 

In the USSR Championship, Boris got closer to the title and took the 1st-3rd places. 

Becoming a champion

At that moment, Tal and Spassky were the main competitors for the World Champion title. Both of them were young and talented. Tal won the Championship in 1957. Next year, Boris wanted to have a re-match. 

At the beginning of the tournament, he was leading the game. However, Boris didn’t cope with the final games. So, before the last tournament, he took the 4th-5th places. At that time, the first four players qualified for the Interzonal Tournament. Spassky met Tal in the decisive round. Boris played better than his colleague. But after postponing a game, he didn’t play too well and lost. It was a heavy blow. He didn’t defeat his main opponent and lost the opportunity to fight for the title.

Somehow, Spassky had some issues with the final games. In 1961, he was leading once again. But the last games weren’t successful. And Boris didn’t get to the Interzonal Tournament. 

The crucial twist

Boris Spassky obviously needed a drastic change that would cause progress in play. And it happened when he left Tolush to learn from Bondarevsky. The latter one made Spassky work on chess, as the player told later. 

The results immediately got better! In 1961, he became the USSR Champion for the first time. In 1963, he started his path to the Olymp which was the World Championship. 

For starters, he won the first league. After taking the 1st-3rd places, Boris won the Interzonal Tournament. At that event, he had 8 victorious games in a row. Eventually, Spassky took 1st place. Now, he was looking forward to the matches.

And they couldn’t get any better. Keres, Geller, and Tal (where Spassky returned the debt from 1958) were all defeated. 

However, the challenger couldn’t cope with Tigran Petrosian who was then the World Champion. “The Iron Tigran” was dominating throughout the whole competition. The scores showed 12,5 to 11,5. But the battle was interesting only because Petrosian lost the 12th game. It made him lose some confidence. 

Thanks to the match, Spassky understood how to play against Petrosian. Now he just needed to play another match with him. 

At the Candidates Tournament Boris was unbeatable once again. He played in it due to being a participant in the World Championship. At that event, Geller, Larsen, and Korchnoi were all defeated by Spassky. 

The match against Petrosian in 1969 looked very similar to their previous battle. But from the opposite perspective. Boris won against Tigran with the scores 12,5:10,5. Thus, he became the tenth player in history who got the World Champion title!

Life after getting the title

As often happens after achieving the desired goal, Spassky lost his motivation. Even Bondarevsky left him. He didn’t know how to make the champion work on chess with the same diligence. 

While Boris Spassky was fighting with himself, American grandmaster Robert Fischer appeared on the scene. He was winning all rivals one after another. Their match occurred in 1972 in Reykjavik. It gained popularity from the artistic perspective as well. A good example is a movie known as “Pawn Sacrifice” with Toby Maguire. 

As for the match, it was a failure for the Russian player. While playing the first game, Fischer yawned in an offhand manner. And he didn’t even appear in the second one. Spassky acquired the advantage of 2 points. Nevertheless, by the 10th game, he had already lost all chances to keep his title. He only had 3 draws within the period from the 3rd to the 10th game. Everything ended after the 21st round, where Boris lost. 

It’s hard to assume what would happen if there was diligent preparation. Spassky was known for that in the matches against Petrosian. It’s worth noting that Fischer had never won against Spassky until the Iceland match. 

Further, Spassky didn’t think about getting back the title. But his level of play without 100% immersion in chess is incredible! In 1973, he became the USSR Champion. Then, Boris decently played against Karpov at the Candidates’ matches. The final of the Candidates Tournaments in 1977-78 against Korchnoi wasn’t any worse. 

Boris Spassky didn’t play often. But a couple of his games were especially popular. One of them was the 1992 match with Fischer who returned for a while. Another one was the game against his fellow citizen Korchnoi in 2009. 

Spassky is an immensely talented chess player who can both equally attack and defend greatly. No wonder such a versatile person became the World Champion! We wish the famous grandmaster health and long life!

Boris Spassky’s notable games

Spassky – Bronstein, 1960, Leningrad

The Queen’s Gambit was played, and a cascade of sacrifices was inevitable! 15. Nd6! With the idea of QH7

NF8 16. NF7- EF=Q 17. RF1- BF5 18. QF5 and on the 23rd move Bronstein conceded defeat.

Spassky – Petrosian, the 19th game of the World Championship, 1969, Moscow, the 19th round

21. е5! Freeing е4 for the knight de 22. Ne4 now goes to Nxe4 Spassky planned RF8 with the following checkmate at Qg7 NH5 23. Qg6- ed 24. Ng5 and Petrosian gave up.

Larsen – Spassky, 1970, the match of the century

The knight is under attack? We don’t care! 12. h4! 13. hg- hg 14. Rg1 – Rh1!!! Sacrificing the rook. 15. Rh1 – g2 16. Rf1- fh4 17. Kd1- gf=f and the Danish gave up. The checkmate in 2 moves is inevitable.

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