Fifty years in the past, the Chilly Warfare was transposed to a chessboard as Bobby Fischer of america took on defending world champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in an exhilarating East-West conflict dubbed the "match of the century".

Some 50 million TV viewers tuned into the two-month-long tussle within the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, the place chess's enfant horrible Fischer got down to wrest the championship from the Soviet Union, which had dominated the sport for many years.

AFP reported each day from the competitors. This account is predicated on its reporting.

Polar opposites

On one aspect of the desk is Fischer, an eccentric, fiercely aggressive 29-year-old former boy surprise, who was holding his personal amongst America's greats by the age of 12 and has already gained eight US chess championships.

Born in Chicago, Fischer grew up within the New York suburb of Brooklyn the place his older sister taught him chess on the age of six.

He turned the world's youngest ever chess grand grasp on the age of 15 and dropped out of college to give attention to the sport.

AFP's correspondent in Reykjavik says "he has few pals and does not care to make any" and that his motto is: "It is not sufficient to defeat an adversary, it's a must to crush them."

He goes into the competitors having gained 101 out of his earlier 120 video games.

Within the different seat is 35-year-old Boris Spassky, a skilled journalist and married father of two kids who has been world champion for 3 years.

Born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) in 1937 he was despatched to an orphanage in Siberia in the course of the Nazi German siege of town throughout World Warfare II.

A pure product of the Soviet chess machine, he started taking part in at 5 and have become world champion at 19.

A likeable, modest character, he's the antithesis of the cantankerous Fischer.

Mood tantrums

Fischer is the primary US-born participant to have a stab on the title (since 1946, the 2 finalists have all the time been Soviet).

Impartial nations vie to host the match, which is finally awarded to Iceland.

Fischer makes a sequence of calls for earlier than agreeing to take part. The venue, a sports activities corridor, have to be sound-proofed, fitted with a brand new carpet and the room temperature stored to 22.5 levels Celsius.

However on the eve of the competitors, he has nonetheless not proven up and Spassky is rising impatient.

Henry Kissinger, who's US nationwide safety advisor on the time underneath President Richard Nixon, calls Fischer and convinces him to participate.

AFP experiences that the US champion "seems drained" when he lands in Reykjavik on July 4. He geese out of the opening ceremony. An outraged Spassky calls for an apology.

The competitors lastly will get underway on July 11, 9 days late.

'Scandal of the century'

Spassky arrives 20 minutes early to the opening sport to "vigorous applause" from the two,500 spectators within the packed corridor. Fischer dashes in on the final minute, "pushes previous the photographers, rushes in direction of Spassky, shakes his hand" and sits down. The sport is lastly on.

The 2 proceed cautiously and on the 28th transfer, the sport seems headed for a draw. However Fischer then makes two unhealthy strikes and resigns on the 56th transfer.

Stung by his loss, he calls for that every one cameras be faraway from the corridor. When the request is denied, he refuses to point out as much as the second sport, forfeiting it.

"The spectators are disillusioned and exasperated," AFP experiences.

Icelandic each day Timinn declares that the match of the century has became the "scandal of the century".

Because the third sport looms Fischer is nowhere to be discovered. Kissinger once more picks up the telephone. "Please, proceed the sport," Fischer later quotes him as pleading.

The corridor is packed when the competitors resumes on July 16, however the stage is empty. Spassky has accepted Fischer's demand that they play in a small again room usually used for ping pong (with a digital camera within the ceiling broadcasting the occasions to the principle corridor exterior).

Some commentators see Spassky's concession as a foul omen for the Russian, who goes on to lose the sport.

The fourth is a draw and Spassky resigns the fifth.

The 2 at the moment are neck-and-neck.

Video games for the historical past books

The sixth sport is likely one of the hardest of the competitors. Spassky throws within the towel on the 41st transfer.

"I am happy with this sport, it was considered one of my greatest," Fischer tells AFP, including: "When Spassky joined the gang in applauding my victory I believed 'what a gentleman'."

Spassky additionally resigns the 13th sport, a chess masterclass, in keeping with AFP's correspondent, who reported that, after congratulating his opponent, Spassky "sits again down in contemplation for six minutes, his gaze misplaced within the chessboard".

Fischer is wanting more and more assured of victory. "He can be champion," his sister Joan tells AFP after the seventh sport.

The Russian asks that the 14th sport be postponed and the subsequent seven are all attracts.

Recreation 21, which matches to Fischer, seems to be the final. The subsequent day Spassky resigns the sport, making Fischer, who continues to be asleep, the 11th world chess champion, with a remaining rating of 12.5-8.5.

From hero to zero

With the chessboard seen as a metaphor for nice energy politics, Fischer's win is feted in america as a symbolic victory of capitalism over communism.

Nixon invitations Fischer to the White Home.

A damaged Spassky returns to an icy reception within the Soviet Union, the place he's banned from participating in chess competitions and positioned underneath surveillance by the KGB, the key police.

In 1976, he marries a Frenchwoman and strikes to Paris, however the self-professed Russian nationalist later returns to Moscow.

Fischer by no means performs one other chess competitors.

In 1975, he refuses to defend his title towards the Soviet Union's Anatoly Karpov and due to this fact loses it. A conspiracy theorist with a visceral hatred of "world Jewry" he disappears for years at a time, re-emerging in 1992 for a rematch towards Spassky in Yugoslavia, regardless of the war-torn nation being underneath US sanctions.

In 2004 he renounces his US citizenship and later strikes to Iceland the place he dies on January 17, 2008 on the age of 64 -- the variety of squares on a chessboard.


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