‘Match of the Century’ Chessboard
BOBBY FISCHER DEFEATED BORIS SPASSKY AND BECAME ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CELEBRITIES
When Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky sat down in Iceland for the World Chess Championship in 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union were in the grips of the Cold War. The championship match, the first to air on American prime time television, was a welcome diversion from the news, and after 21 games, Fischer emerged victorious. After his win, national magazines proclaimed the Brooklyn-raised grandmaster “the most famous man in the world.”
“Bobby Fischer was an American hero, as popular as any pop star of the day,” say Leon Benrimon, Heritage Auctions’ director of modern and contemporary art in New York. “He is still considered the greatest chess player of all time.”
The chessboard used by Fischer (1943-2008) and Spassky (b.1937) for games 7 through 21 of that historic “Match of the Century” was signed after the match by Fischer and Spassky. The historic piece is being offered, along with the reserve table, chairs, pieces and clocks, in Heritage’s sports collectibles auction scheduled for Nov. 17-19, 2016, in Dallas.
The table and chairs are designed by Icelandic furniture designer Gunnar Magnússon and produced by cabinetmaker Ragnar Haraldsson. It’s an identical copy of the table used during the match. The Staunton chess pieces and accompanying Garde clock are reserves from the 1972 match.
“It was a symbolic fight between the United States and the Soviet Union,” says Chris Ivy, Heritage’s director of sports. “Fischer’s victory and Spassky’s defeat represented a crushing moment for the Soviets in the midst of the Cold War.”