Armenians repeat their success
Little Knight meets big rook
The technical Olympiad spirit


Spassky's Take

Dresden, 23/11/2008

Former World Champion is never short on words

Things were not this freewheeling for Boris Spassky in 1972. Mired in a tense battle with Bobby Fischer, and an entire ideology that went along with him, Spassky had the toughest fight of his life. Even in their rematch in 1992, on the slightly more idyllic island of Sveti Stefan, he worried a third-straight victory might make Fischer quit the match.

But Spassky can now be found easily essaying the chess lecture circuit. His animated answers and quirky gesticulations suggest those days are long gone. "Now I'm preparing myself to die," Spassky said sarcastically. His opinion is still universally sought out – the world champions club is akin to the former U.S. presidents club – and he is not afraid to give it.

On Fischer: "I have only positive feelings about Bobby. I know he showed up late but if he played today, he would get a zero. What I liked in Bobby – he never fought against the opponent, he only fought against the organizers...He was not exactly a gentleman, but almost."

On Anand-Kramnik: "[The two games in the Meran Variation] were the critical games of the match. Very often efforts from both sides find the crucial position in the variation."

On his match with Tigran Petrosian in 1969, when Petrosian insisted on repeating the Tarrasch Defense: "[The first game] gave Petrosian some problems. Only after four games did he get something unpleasant against me."

On the Russian Olympiad team: "The team is not a team. It is just a collection of strong players. Their poor result is quite natural to me."

On Vassily Ivanchuk's request to guard him from a dog who just barked: "Vassily, after that, was absolutely dead for three hours. [I thought he could not be World Champion] because his nervous system is not enough to stand that sort of tension. Now, he has equilibrium."

On chess psychology: "Chess is 50 percent psychological like in tennis. It is very important to have fighting spirit. The war from your opponent is how to destroy this fighting spirit."

On his match with Viktor Korchnoi: "He was not quiet and my clock was running. I broke the tradition of sitting at the chess board with my time running. I was treated as a bad boy and Korchnoi as a good boy.

He is also no stranger to hyperbole: "That was the biggest chess scandal of the 20th century."

Text: Mike Klein
Photo: Georgios Souleidis