World Chess Championship 1972
The World Chess Championship 1972 was a match for the World Chess Championship between challenger Bobby Fischer of the United States and defending champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. The match took place in the Laugardalshöll arena in Reykjavík, Iceland, and has been dubbed the Match of the Century. Fischer became the first American born in the United States to win the world title, and the second American overall (Wilhelm Steinitz, the first world champion, became a naturalized American citizen in 1888). Fischer's win also ended, for a short time, 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship.
The first game was played on July 11, 1972. The last game (the 21st) began on August 31, was adjourned after 40 moves, and Spassky resigned the next day without resuming play. Fischer won the match 12½–8½, becoming the eleventh undisputed World Champion.
In 2016, former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov commented on the global significance of the match, saying:
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.
- 1 Background
- 2 1970 Interzonal tournament
- 3 1971 Candidates Tournament
- 4 1972 World Championship match
- 4.1 Schedule and results
- 4.2 Games
- 4.2.1 Game 1: Spassky–Fischer, 1–0 (Nimzo-Indian)
- 4.2.2 Game 2: Fischer forfeits
- 4.2.3 Game 3: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Modern Benoni)
- 4.2.4 Game 4: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Sicilian Sozin)
- 4.2.5 Game 5: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Nimzo-Indian)
- 4.2.6 Game 6: Fischer–Spassky, 1–0 (QGD Tartakower)
- 4.2.7 Game 7: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Sicilian Najdorf)
- 4.2.8 Game 8: Fischer–Spassky, 1–0 (English Symmetrical)
- 4.2.9 Game 9: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (QGD Semi-Tarrasch)
- 4.2.10 Game 10: Fischer–Spassky, 1–0 (Ruy Lopez Breyer)
- 4.2.11 Game 11: Spassky–Fischer, 1–0 (Sicilian Najdorf)
- 4.2.12 Game 12: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (QGD Orthodox)
- 4.2.13 Game 13: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Alekhine's Defence)
- 4.2.14 Game 14: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (QGD Harrwitz)
- 4.2.15 Game 15: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Sicilian Najdorf)
- 4.2.16 Game 16: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Ruy Lopez Exchange)
- 4.2.17 Game 17: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Pirc Defence)
- 4.2.18 Game 18: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Sicilian Rauzer)
- 4.2.19 Game 19: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Alekhine's Defence)
- 4.2.20 Game 20: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Sicilian Rauzer)
- 4.2.21 Game 21: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Sicilian Taimanov)
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The match was played during the Cold War, but during a period of increasing détente. The Soviet Chess School had long held a monopoly on the game at the highest level. Spassky was the latest in an uninterrupted chain of Soviet world chess champions, stretching back to the 1948 championship.
Fischer, an eccentric 29-year-old American, was a vocal critic of the Soviet domination of chess, because he believed that Soviet players gained an unfair advantage by agreeing to short draws among themselves in tournaments. In August 1962 Sports Illustrated, and then in October the German magazine Der Spiegel, published a famous article by Fischer "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess" in which he expounded this view. Fischer himself rarely agreed to early draws in unclear positions.
The expectations on Spassky were enormous because for the Soviets, chess was part of the political system. While Fischer was often famously critical of his home country ("Americans want to plunk in front of a TV and don't want to open a book ..."), he too carried the burden of expectation because of the political significance of the match. No American had achieved the world championship since the first champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, became a naturalized American citizen in 1888. The excitement surrounding the match was such that it was called the "Match of the Century", even though the same term had been applied to the USSR vs. Rest of the World match just two years before.
Spassky, the champion, had lost the world championship match against Tigran Petrosian in 1966. In 1968, he won matches against Efim Geller, Bent Larsen, and Viktor Korchnoi to again win the right to challenge Petrosian for the title. This time Spassky triumphed, winning 12½–10½. He is often said to have (had) a "universal style", "involving an ability to play the most varied types of positions". However, Garry Kasparov notes that "from childhood he clearly had a leaning toward sharp, attacking play, and possessed a splendid feel for the initiative." Before the match, Fischer had played five games against Spassky, with two draws and Spassky winning three.
However, in the Candidates matches en route to becoming the challenger, Fischer had demolished world-class grandmasters Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen, each by a perfect score of 6–0, a feat no one else had ever accomplished in any Candidates match. After that, Fischer had split the first five games of his match against former World Champion Tigran Petrosian, then closed out the match by winning the last four games. "No bare statement conveys the magnitude and impact of these results. ... Fischer sowed devastation." From the last seven rounds of the Interzonal until the first game against Petrosian, Fischer won 20 consecutive games, nearly all of which were against top grandmasters.
Fischer also had a much higher Elo rating than Spassky. On the July 1972 FIDE rating list, Fischer's 2785 was a record 125 points ahead of the number two player – Spassky, whose rating was 2660. Fischer's recent results and record Elo rating made him the pre-match favorite. Other observers, however, noted that Fischer had never won a game against Spassky.
Spassky's seconds for the match were Efim Geller, Nikolai Krogius and Iivo Nei. Fischer's second was William Lombardy. His entourage also included lawyer Paul Marshall, who would play a significant role in the events surrounding the match, and USCF representative Fred Cramer. The match referee was Lothar Schmid.
For some time, it was doubtful that the match would be played at all. Shortly before the match, Fischer demanded that the players receive, in addition to the agreed-upon prize fund of $125,000 (5/8 to the winner, 3/8 to the loser) and 30% of the proceeds from television and film rights, 30% of the box-office receipts. He failed to arrive in Iceland for the opening ceremony on July 1. Fischer's behavior was seemingly full of contradictions, as it had been throughout his career. He finally flew to Iceland and agreed to play after a two-day postponement of the match by FIDE President Max Euwe, a surprise doubling of the prize fund by British investment banker Jim Slater, and much persuasion, including a phone call by Henry Kissinger to Fischer. Many commentators, particularly from the USSR, have suggested that all this (and his continuing demands and unreasonableness) was part of Fischer's plan to "psych out" Spassky. Fischer's supporters say that winning the World Championship was the mission of his life, that he simply wanted the setting to be perfect for it when he took the stage, and that his behavior was the same as it had always been.
World-class match play (i.e., a series of games between the same two opponents) often involves one or both players preparing one or two openings very deeply, and playing them repeatedly during the match. Preparation for such a match also involves analysis of those opening lines known to be played by the opponent. Fischer had been famous for his unusually narrow opening repertoire: for example, almost invariably playing 1.e4 as White, and almost always playing the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence as Black against 1.e4. He surprised Spassky by repeatedly switching openings, and by playing openings that he had never, or only rarely, played before (such as 1.c4 as White, and Alekhine's Defence, the Pirc Defence, and the Paulsen Sicilian as Black). Even in openings that Fischer had played before in the match, he continually deviated from the variations he had previously played, almost never repeating the same line twice in the match.
1970 Interzonal tournament
The Interzonal tournament was held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in November and December 1970. The top six players of the interzonal (shown in bold in the table below) qualified for the Candidates Tournament. Bobby Fischer had not qualified to play in this event, as he had not participated in the 1969 US Championship (Zonal). However, Benko (and the reserve Lombardy) gave up his spot, and FIDE President Max Euwe controversially allowed Fischer to participate instead. A compensation of US$1,500 was paid to Benko for this to occur.
1970 Interzonal Tournament 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Total Tie break 1 Bobby Fischer (United States) - 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 18½ 2 Bent Larsen (Denmark) 1 - ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 15 167.50 3 Efim Geller (Soviet Union) 0 ½ - 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 15 167.00 4 Robert Hübner (West Germany) ½ ½ 0 - ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 15 155.25 5 Mark Taimanov (Soviet Union) 0 1 ½ ½ - ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 14 146.50 6 Wolfgang Uhlmann (East Germany) 0 0 0 0 ½ - 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 14 141.50 7 Lajos Portisch (Hungary) ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 - ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0 13½ 149.75 8 Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union) 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ - 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 13½ 141.00 9 Lev Polugaevsky (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 - ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 13 146.75 10 Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia) 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ - 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 13 135.50 11 Oscar Panno (Argentina) 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 - ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 12½ 130.75 12 Henrique Mecking (Brazil) 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ - 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 12½ 130.00 13 Vlastimil Hort (Czechoslovakia) 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 - 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 11½ 14 Borislav Ivkov (Yugoslavia) 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 - ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 10½ 15 Duncan Suttles (Canada) 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ - 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 10 105.75 16 Dragoljub Minić (Yugoslavia) 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 - 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 10 96.00 17 Samuel Reshevsky (United States) 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 - ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 9½ 18 Milan Matulović (Yugoslavia) ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ - ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 9 98.50 19 William Addison (United States) 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ - ½ 0 0 1 1 9 95.25 20 Miroslav Filip (Czechoslovakia) 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ - ½ 1 ½ 0 8½ 91.50 21 Renato Naranja (Philippines) ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 ½ - 0 0 1 8½ 88.75 22 Tudev Ujtumen (Mongolia) ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 0 1 - 1 ½ 8½ 85.25 23 Jorge Rubinetti (Argentina) 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 - 1 6 24 Eleazar Jiménez (Cuba) ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 - 5½
Portisch and Smyslov contested a six-game playoff in Portorož, Yugoslavia, in early 1971 for the reserve position for the Candidates Tournament. The match ended 3–3; Portisch was declared the winner because of a better tie-break score in the main tournament.
1971 Candidates Tournament
Petrosian as the loser of the last championship match and Korchnoi as runner-up of the previous Candidates final were seeded directly into the tournament and joined by the top six from the Interzonal.
|Vancouver, May 1971|
|Mark Taimanov||0||Denver, July 1971|
|Las Palmas, May–June 1971||Bent Larsen||0|
|Wolfgang Uhlmann||3½||Buenos Aires, Sep–Oct 1971|
|Moscow, May 1971||Tigran Petrosian||2½|
|Efim Geller||2½||Moscow, July 1971|
|Seville, May 1971||Tigran Petrosian||5½|
|Robert Hübner (forfeit)||3|
Fischer's victory earned him the right to challenge reigning champion Spassky for the title.
1972 World Championship match
Schedule and results
The match was played as the best of 24 games, with wins counting 1 point and draws counting ½ point, and would end when one of the players scored 12½ points. If the match ended in a 12–12 tie, the defending champion (Spassky) would retain the title. The first time control was 40 moves in 2½ hours. Three games per week were scheduled. Each player was entitled to three postponements for medical reasons during the match. Games were scheduled to start on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. If a game was adjourned, it was to be continued the next day. Saturday was a rest day.
Fischer insisted that a Staunton chess set from Jaques of London be used. The chessboard had to be remade at Fischer's request. The match was covered throughout the world. Fischer became a worldwide celebrity, described as the Einstein or Hitler of chess. His hotel received dozens of calls each day from women attracted to him, and Fischer enjoyed reading the numerous letters and telegrams that arrived with compliments or criticisms. Excitement grew as the match was postponed and people questioned whether Fischer would appear. Previously, he had come to the airport and, surrounded by reporters, left. The combination of "Will he play?" and "American versus Russian" created excitement throughout the world.
|Boris Spassky (USSR)||2660||1||1||0||½||0||0||½||0||½||0||1||½||0||½||½||½||½||½||½||½||0||8½|
|Bobby Fischer (USA)||2785||0||0||1||½||1||1||½||1||½||1||0||½||1||½||½||½||½||½||½||½||1||12½|
|This section uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
Game 1: Spassky–Fischer, 1–0 (Nimzo-Indian) 
The opening was a placid Nimzo-Indian Defence, and after 17...Ba4 the game was even (Filip). After a series of piece exchanges the position in the diagram was reached after 29.b5. It appeared to be a dead-drawn ending, and no one would have been remotely surprised if the players had agreed to a draw here.
Shockingly, Fischer played 29...Bxh2?, a move that few players would consider in light of the obvious 30.g3, trapping the bishop. In exchange for the lost bishop, Black is only able to obtain two pawns (see chess piece relative value). Gligorić, Kasparov and other commentators have suggested that Fischer may have miscalculated, having planned 30...h5 31.Ke2 h4 32.Kf3 h3 33.Kg4 Bg1, but overlooking that 34.Kxh3 Bxf2 35.Bd2 keeps the bishop trapped. Anatoly Karpov suggested that Spassky was afraid of Fischer and wanted to show that he could draw with the white pieces, while Fischer wanted to disprove that as the game headed for a stale draw. Owing to unusual features in the position, Fischer had good drawing chances despite having only two pawns for the bishop. However, the position became hopeless after he made at least one more bad move before the adjournment, which took place after move 40. Fischer could still have drawn the game with the correct 39th or 40th move. He resigned on move 56.
Game 2: Fischer forfeits 
Following his loss Fischer made further demands on the organizers, including that all cameras be removed. When they were not, he refused to appear for game 2, giving a default win to Spassky. His appeal was rejected. Karpov speculates that this forfeited game was actually a masterstroke on Fischer's part, a move designed specifically to upset Spassky's equanimity.
With the score now 2–0 in favor of Spassky, many observers believed that the match was over and Fischer would leave Iceland, and, indeed, Fischer looked to board the next plane out of Iceland, only to be dissuaded by his second, William Lombardy. His decision to stay in the match was attributed by some to another phone call from Kissinger and a deluge of cablegrams to Fischer. Spassky, owing to his sporting spirit and respect and sympathy for Fischer, agreed to play the third game in a small room backstage, out of sight of the spectators. According to Pal Benko and Burt Hochberg, this concession was a psychological mistake by Spassky.
Game 3: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Modern Benoni) 
This game proved to be the turning point of the match. After 11.Qc2 (diagram), Fischer demonstrated his acute intuitive feel for the position with 11...Nh5!?—a seemingly antipositional move allowing White to shatter Black's kingside pawn structure, but Fischer's assessment that his kingside attack created significant counterplay proved correct. Surprised by Fischer's novelty, Spassky did not react in the best way. Instead of 15.Bd2, 15.Ne2!? was possible (Zaitsev), or 15.f3 to prevent ...Ng4. In particular, Spassky's 18th move, weakening the light squares, was a mistake. The game was adjourned, and Spassky resigned the next day upon seeing that Fischer had sealed the best move, 41...Bd3+! The win was Fischer's first ever win against Spassky.
Game 4: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Sicilian Sozin) 
Fischer as White played the Sozin Attack against Spassky's Sicilian Defence. Spassky sacrificed a pawn, and after 17...Bxc5+ had a slight advantage (Nunn). Spassky developed a strong kingside attack, but failed to convert it into a win, the game ending in a draw.
Game 5: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Nimzo-Indian) 
Another Nimzo-Indian, this time the Hübner Variation: 4.Nf3 c5 5.e3 Nc6 6.Bd3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 d6. Fischer rebuffed Spassky's attempt to attack; after 15...0-0 the game was even (Adorján). Fischer obtained a blocked position where Spassky was saddled with weak pawns and his bishop pair had no prospects. After 26 moves, Spassky faced the position in the diagram, in which he blundered with 27.Qc2??, and resigned after Fischer's 27...Bxa4! After 28.Qxa4 Qxe4, Black's dual threats of 29...Qxg2# and 29...Qxe1# would decide; alternatively, 28.Qd2 (or 28.Qb1) Bxd1 29.Qxd1 Qxe4 30.Qd2 a4 wins.
Thus Fischer had drawn level (the score was now 2½–2½), although FIDE rules stipulated that the champion retained the title if after 24 games the match ended in a tie.
After game 5, Fischer hinted to Lombardy about a surprise he had in store for game 6.
Game 6: Fischer–Spassky, 1–0 (QGD Tartakower) 
Before the match began, the Soviet team that had been training Spassky debated about whether Fischer might play an opening move different from his usual 1.e4. "But when the question was raised as to whether 1 d4 or 1 c4 could be expected of Fischer, Spassky replied: 'Let's not bother with such nonsense – I'll play the [Tartakower] Defence. What can he achieve?...'"
Fischer played 1.c4 (instead of 1.e4) for only the third time in a serious game. With 3.d4 the game transposed to the Queen's Gambit, surprising many who had never seen Fischer play the White side of that opening. In fact, he had previously openly condemned it.
Spassky played Tartakower's Defense (7...b6), his favorite choice in many tournaments and a line with which he had never lost. After 14.Bb5!? (introduced in Furman–Geller, Moscow 1970), Spassky responded with 14...a6?!. Geller had previously shown Spassky 14...Qb7!, the move with which Geller later beat Jan Timman at Hilversum 1973, but Spassky apparently forgot about it. After 21.f4 Fischer had the upper hand (Hort). After 26.f5, White had a crushing attack.
"Lombardy was ecstatic: '"Bobby has played a steady, fluent game, and just watched Spassky make horrendous moves. Spassky has not met a player of Bobby's genius and caliber before, who fights for every piece on the board; he doesn't give in and agree to draws like the Russian grandmasters. This is a shock to Spassky'".
This game was notable for two things. First, Fischer played the Queen's Gambit for the first time in his life in a serious game; second, he played it to perfection, the game indeed casting doubt on Black's whole opening system.
The win gave Fischer the lead (3½–2½) for the first time in the match.
Game 7: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Sicilian Najdorf) 
Spassky played 1.e4 for the first time in the match. Fischer defended aggressively with his favorite Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Najdorf Sicilian, and after 17...Nc6 had the upper hand (Gipslis). He consolidated his extra pawn and reached a winning endgame, but then played carelessly, allowing Spassky to salvage a draw. In the final position, Fischer had two extra pawns but had to execute a draw by perpetual check in order to escape being checkmated by Spassky's two rooks and knight.
Game 8: Fischer–Spassky, 1–0 (English Symmetrical) 
Fischer again played 1.c4; the game remained an English Opening rather than transposing to another opening as in game 6. After 14...a6 the game was even. Spassky gave up an exchange with 15...b5? for little compensation in the way of a positional advantage, and it is unclear whether it was a sacrifice or a blunder. Fischer won, putting him ahead 5–3.
Game 9: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (QGD Semi-Tarrasch) 
The game was delayed when Spassky took time off (pleading illness). The opening was the Semi-Tarrasch Defense of the Queen's Gambit Declined. Fischer played a theoretical novelty on the ninth move. After 13...0-0 the game was even (Parma), and the game ended in a quiet draw after just 29 moves.
Game 10: Fischer–Spassky, 1–0 (Ruy Lopez Breyer) 
Fischer played the Ruy Lopez, an opening on which he was a great expert. After 25...Qxa5?! (25...axb5!? 26.Rxb5 Ba6 gives Spassky a better chance; Gligorić), Fischer obtained the upper hand by initiating a dangerous attack on Spassky's king with 26.Bb3! (Matanović), suddenly placing Black in a critical situation. Spassky sacrificed the exchange for a pawn, reaching a sharp endgame where his two connected passed pawns gave almost sufficient compensation for Fischer's small material advantage. Spassky had drawing chances, but played inexactly, and Fischer won the game with precise play.
Game 11: Spassky–Fischer, 1–0 (Sicilian Najdorf) 
This game was a dramatic win for Spassky, his first since games 1 and 2. As in game 7, Fischer essayed his favorite Poisoned Pawn Variation; Spassky surprised him with the startling 14.Nb1 (given !! by many annotators at the time), retreating the knight to its starting position. Although later analysis showed that the move was only sufficient for equality if Black responded correctly, Fischer did not. If 15...Ne7!? by Black then 16.N1d2!? and the game is unclear (Gipslis). After inferior defense by Fischer, Spassky trapped Fischer's queen and handed him his only defeat ever as Black in the Poisoned Pawn.
Game 12: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (QGD Orthodox) 
A quiet Queen's Gambit Declined. After 19.Be4!, Fischer had a slight advantage (Yudovich), and after 24...a5 the game was even (Polugaevsky). The game ended in an opposite-colored bishops endgame draw after 55 moves.
Game 13: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Alekhine's Defence) 
Fischer avoided the Sicilian Defence, with which he had lost game 11, instead preferring Alekhine's Defence. After 8...a5! 9.a4? (9.c3!? and Black is only slightly better; Gligorić) dxe5 10.dxe5 Na6! 11.0-0 Nc5, Fischer had the upper hand (Bagirov). The game swung one way, then another, and was finally adjourned at move 42 with Fischer having an edge in a sharp position but no clear win. The Soviet team's analysis convinced them that the position was drawn. Fischer stayed up until 8 a.m. the following morning analyzing it (the resumption being at 2:30 p.m.). He had not found a win either. Amazingly, he managed to set traps for Spassky, who fell into them and lost. Spassky's seconds were stunned, and Spassky himself refused to leave the board for a long time after the game was over, unable to believe the result. He remarked, "It is very strange. How can one lose with the opponent's only rook locked in completely at g8?"
Lombardy noted the shock that Spassky was in after he resigned:
While Fischer dashed for his car, Spassky remained glued to his seat. A sympathetic Lothar Schmid came over, and the two shifted the pieces about with Boris demonstrating his careless mistakes. The two were left wondering how Bobby could have squeezed a win from a position which a night of competent analysis by a renowned Soviet team had showed to be a guaranteed draw.
Former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik said that this game made a particularly strong impression on him. He called it "the highest creative achievement of Fischer". He resolved a drawish opposite-colored bishops endgame by sacrificing his bishop and trapping his own rook. "Then five passed pawns struggled with the white rook. Nothing similar had been seen before in chess".
David Bronstein said "Of all the games from the match, the 13th appeals to me most of all. When I play through the game I still cannot grasp the innermost motive behind this or that plan or even individual move. Like an enigma, it still teases my imagination."
When Spassky and Fischer shook hands, many in the audience thought that they had agreed to a draw, thinking that 75.Rf4 draws. But 75...Rxd4! 76.Rxd4 Ke2 wins; 75.Be5 Rd1 76.Kxb3 Re1 also wins for Black.
The next seven games (games 14 through 20) were drawn. Fischer was unable to get the initiative. Spassky was choosing lines that Fischer was unable to break. With a three-point lead, Fischer was content to inch towards the title, and Spassky seemed resigned to his fate. The off-the-board antics continued, including a lawsuit against Fischer for damages by Chester Fox, who had filming rights to the match (Fischer had objected to what he said were noticeable camera noises, and the Icelandic hosts had reluctantly – they were to share in film revenues along with the two contestants – removed the television cameras), a Fischer demand to remove the first seven rows of spectators (eventually, three rows were cleared), and Soviet claims that Fischer was using electronic and chemical devices to 'control' Spassky, resulting in an Icelandic police sweep of the hall.
Game 14: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (QGD Harrwitz) 
The game was postponed at Spassky's request. Fischer was again White in a Queen's Gambit Declined. After 18.Be5? (18.Nxb6 Qxb6 19.Be5 and Fischer keeps a slight advantage; Gligorić) Bxa4! 19.Qxa4 Nc6! Spassky had the upper hand (Karpov). Fischer played carelessly and lost a pawn on move 21. Spassky blundered it back on move 27, however, and the game settled into a 40-move draw.
Game 15: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Sicilian Najdorf) 
Fischer returned to the Najdorf Sicilian, but played the main line rather than the Poisoned Pawn Variation with which he had lost game 11. At move 13, Fischer sacrificed a pawn for counterplay, which Spassky accepted. After 19.c3, Spassky had the upper hand (Gipslis). After 28...Rd7 the game was even, but when Spassky took a second pawn with 29.Qxh5?! it allowed Fischer a very strong attack. Spassky, on the brink of disaster, "found miraculous replies while in time pressure" and Fischer was only able to achieve a draw by threefold repetition after 43 moves. Two years later, Yugoslav grandmaster Dragoljub Velimirović improved on Spassky's play with the piece sacrifice 14.Bxb5!?, winning a crushing victory in Velimirović–Al Kazzaz, Nice Olympiad 1974. Black in turn later improved on Fischer's 12...0-0-0 with 12...b4.
Game 16: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Ruy Lopez Exchange) 
Fischer played the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, a favorite line of his. After 17...Rfe8 the game was equal (Gipslis). Spassky defended well, and after a tactical flurry in the endgame, ended up with the nominal advantage of an extra pawn in a rook ending known to be an easy book draw. Although a draw could have been agreed after move 34, Spassky "used his symbolic material advantage for a little psychological torture", prolonging the game until move 60 before agreeing to a draw.
Game 17: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Pirc Defence) 
Game 18: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Sicilian Rauzer) 
Game 19: Spassky–Fischer, ½–½ (Alekhine's Defence) 
The second Alekhine's Defence of the match, the game ended in a draw after 40 moves. After 18...Bg5!, Gligorić commented "a queer situation has arisen with many tactical possibilities for both sides." After 19.Bh5 the position was unclear (Bagirov). After 37...a6, C.H.O'D. Alexander wrote: "A miracle; after all the excitements – two piece sacrifices by White and the counter-sacrifice of a rook by Black – the players have reached a completely equal endgame with no chances for either side."
Game 20: Fischer–Spassky, ½–½ (Sicilian Rauzer) 
Another Richter–Rauzer, after 13...Nxd2 the game was equal (Matanović, Ugrinović). Fischer was unable to make progress and Spassky got a better position. Fischer headed for a drawish endgame but Spassky twice avoided a draw by threefold repetition. After 54 moves, Fischer made an incorrect claim of threefold repetition, but Spassky agreed to a draw anyway. See Threefold repetition#Fischer versus Spassky.
Game 21: Spassky–Fischer, 0–1 (Sicilian Taimanov) 
This game turned out to be the last game. Fischer used a line of the Sicilian that he had never before played as Black, and further surprised Spassky with a novelty on move eight. After 14...Qxf6 the game was equal (Taimanov). Spassky played badly in the endgame and the game was adjourned with a big advantage for Fischer. However, Fischer's 40th move was not the best; he should have played 40...Kg4! before ...h5 (his actual 40th move). Had Spassky sealed 41.Kh3! (preventing ...Kg4), he would have had drawing chances. However, his 41.Bd7? would have allowed Black to win with 41...Kg4 followed by pushing his h-pawn. On September 1, the day scheduled for resumption of the game, arbiter Lothar Schmid informed Fischer and the audience that Spassky had resigned the game by telephone, making Fischer the winner of the match. Euwe expressed disappointment that Spassky had not arrived at the playing hall to congratulate Fischer in person.
The final score was 12½–8½ in favor of Fischer, making him the eleventh World Champion. Spassky won three games (including the forfeit in game 2), Fischer won seven games, and there were eleven draws.
Fischer's crushing victory made him an instant celebrity. Upon Fischer's return to New York, a Bobby Fischer Day was held. He was offered numerous product endorsement offers worth "at least $5 million" (all of which he declined). He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with American Olympic swimming champion Mark Spitz. Fischer also made an appearance on a Bob Hope TV special. However, the games in this match would prove to be his last public competitive games for several decades. Fischer had, prior to the match, felt that the first-to-12½-points format was not fair, since it encouraged whoever was leading to play for draws instead of wins. He himself espoused this strategy in the match: after having taken a comfortable lead, he drew games 14–20. With each game, he coasted closer to the title, while Spassky lost a chance to fight back. This style of chess offended Fischer. Instead he demanded the format be changed to that used in the very first World Championship, between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, where the winner was the first player to score 10 wins with draws not counting. In case of a 9–9 score, the champion would retain title, and the prize fund split equally. A FIDE Congress was held in 1974 during the Nice Olympiad. The delegates voted in favor of Fischer's 10-win proposal, but rejected the 9–9 clause as well as the possibility of an unlimited match. In response, Fischer refused to defend his title. Anatoly Karpov, who had fought his way through the candidates tournament, was declared World Champion by forfeit.
Seventeen years later, Fischer finally found a sponsor willing to fund a match under his proposed format. Fischer insisted that since he had not been defeated in a match, he was still the true World Champion. He further claimed that all the games in the FIDE-sanctioned World Championship matches, involving Karpov and his challengers Korchnoi and Kasparov, had prearranged outcomes. He then challenged Spassky (tied for 96th–102nd on the FIDE rating list at the time) for a rematch, leading to the Fischer–Spassky (1992 match).
In popular culture
- The musical Chess, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, tells the story of two chess champions, referred to only as "The American" and "The Russian". The musical is loosely based on the 1972 World Championship match between Fischer and Spassky.
- During the 1972 Fischer–Spassky match, the Soviet bard Vladimir Vysotsky wrote an ironic two-song cycle "Honor of the Chess Crown". The first song is about a rank-and-file Soviet worker's preparation for the match with Fischer; the second is about the game. Many expressions from the songs have become catchphrases in Russian culture.
- The 2014 film Pawn Sacrifice tells the story of Fischer's attempts to defeat Russian Boris Spassky and become the World Champion. The film is directed by Edward Zwick and stars Tobey Maguire as Fischer and Liev Schreiber as Spassky.
- In the sixth episode of season 3 of Drunk History, comedian Rich Fulcher recounts the 1972 World Championship match between Fisher and Spassky. "Games". Drunk History. Season 3. Episode 6. 6 October 2015. Comedy Central.
- "Garry Kasparov on Conversations with Bill Kristol". Conversations with Bill Kristol.
- Evans & Smith 1973, p. 8
- "Fischer, according to some of the psychiatrists who are regulars at the Manhattan Chess Club, is a paranoid and is 'psychotically suspicious, like most paranoids'." Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 75
- "Bobby Fischer, then as now the enfant terrible of the chess world, charged that the Russians were in collusion, agreeing to draw with each other while playing no-holds-barred games with non-Russians, and to nothing to jeopardize the position of whichever one of them was leading." Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 35
- Bobby Fischer: The Russians Have Fixed World Chess Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Bobby Fischer: Schacher im Schach. Das abgekartete Spiel der Russen (German)
- "Throughout all the Soviet comments on their chess successes runs the theme that more than chess is at stake. For example, when Botvinnik won the world title in 1948 Pravda commented, 'Botvinnik was not simply playing chess, he was defending the honour of his country', and in 1961 The Moral Code of the Builder of Communism stated, 'Our task is to educate chess-players towards communist consciousness, love of labour and discipline and loyalty to the good of society.'" Alexander 1972, p. 46
- "When Botvinnik won the Nottingham tournament of 1936, Pravda said in an editorial that his victory was a triumph of Marxist–Leninist chess". Donner 2006, p. 138 (originally published in De Tijd, June 28, 1972)
- "Spassky, of course, was carrying a burden that Fischer was not laden with: he was playing not only for himself, but also for the Soviet government, the Soviet system. He represented an ideology. Soviet chess players were supreme, so the theory went, because the Soviet social, political and governmental system was so much better." Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 108
- Fisher's 1972 Match Was Cold War Battle January 19, 2008
- Steinitz entry at World Chess Museum and Hall of Fame. Chessmuseum.org. Retrieved on 2009-03-03.
- Perhaps the best-selling book on the match was subtitled The New York Times Report on the Chess Match of the Century (Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972). Gligorić's book on the match was also subtitled The Chess Match of the Century (Gligorić 1972).
- "Even before a move has been made, this breathtaking, blood-curdling and heartrending encounter is justly being labelled as 'the Match of the Century'." Donner 2006, p. 136 (originally published in De Tijd, June 28, 1972)
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. vii
- The term is used that way in Russian, and also by Edmar Mednis in his book How to Beat Bobby Fischer. Mednis 1997, p. 247
- Kažić 1974, pp. 230–31
- Kažić 1974, pp. 194–96
- Kažić 1974, pp. 231–32
- Kasparov 2004a, p. 182
- Alexander 1972, pp. 60–61
- Steiner 1974, p. 42
- Alexander 1972, p. 74
- All Time Rankings Archived November 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. – lists the top 10 from 1970 to 1997.
- "Despite his dismal score against Spassky, Fischer is the choice of nearly every expert. Indeed, London bookmakers favor him 6-to-5." Evans & Smith 1973, p. 8
- Of the players and expert commentators at the annual Hastings Christmas tournament in 1971–72, apart from one International Master who predicted a Spassky victory, almost everyone else predicted that Fischer would win easily. Gligorić 1972, pp. 13–14
- "Lay opinion is overwhelmingly in support of Fischer, expert opinion is divided in the proportion of about 2 to 1 in his favour." Alexander 1972, p. 74
- Bill Goichberg, "Masters and Experts View the Match", Chess Life & Review, July 1972, pp. 409–10 (also available on DVD)
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 59
- Alexander 1972, p. 79
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 156
- Brady 2011, p. 184
- Lombardy 2011, pp. 219–20
- Alexander 1972, pp. 77, 79
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 76
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, pp. 63–64
- Alexander 1972, p. 77
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 60
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, pp. 62–63
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 138–39
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, pp. 63–67
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 143–44
- An extreme example of this was seen in the 1927 World Championship match between José Raúl Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, where all but two of the thirty-four games featured the Queen's Gambit Declined. José Raul Capablanca, World's Championship Matches, 1921 and 1927, Dover Publications, 1977, p. 46, ISBN 0-486-23189-5
- Mednis 1997, p. xxviii
- "Before the match there was a lot of talk that it is comparatively easy to prepare for Fischer, because he is very conservative in his choice of openings. Especially with White, Fischer plays [1.e4] almost without exception." Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 106
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 48, 65, 87, 91, 113, 117
- Plisetsky, Dmitry; Voronkov, Sergey (2005). Russians versus Fischer. Everyman Chess. p. 166.
- FIDE Article 7, Rule 8, reproduced in Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 204
- FIDE Article 7, Rule 6, reproduced in Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 204
- FIDE Article 7, Rule 9b, reproduced in Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 204
- FIDE Article 7, Rule 9a, reproduced in Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 204
- FIDE Article 7, Rule 10, reproduced in Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 204
- Gligorić 1972, p. 86
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 163–64
- Darrach, Brad (1972-08-11). "Bobby is Not a Nasty Kid". Life. p. 40. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- Matanović 1991 (Vol E), p. 312, n. 28
- Evans & Smith 1973, p. 26
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 82
- Alexander 1972, p. 86
- Garry Kasparov (2004b), Max Euwe & Jan Timman (2009), Dmitry Plisetsky & Sergey Voronkov (2005), Svetozar Gligoric (1972), and C.H.O'D. Alexander (1972) all give this move one question mark (a bad move but not a blunder). Larry Evans & Ken Smith (1973), and Richard Roberts, Harold Schonberg, Al Horowitz & Samuel Reshevsky (1972) give it "?!" (a dubious move).
- Kasparov 2004b, p. 434
- Gligorić 1972, p. 34
- Karpov 1990, p. 100
- Robert Byrne wrote, "The wonder is that, even though he now loses the bishop for two pawns, he would have been able to draw had it not been for his later mistakes." Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 83
- Mednis 1997, pp. 275–76
- Gligorić 1972 (p. 34), Alexander 1972 (p. 86), and Evans & Smith 1973 (p. 29) all give Fischer's 40th move as a bad move, stating that he could still have drawn with the correct 40th move. More recent books by Kasparov 2004b (p. 435) and Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005 (p. 443) give Fischer's 39th move as weak, claiming that his last opportunity to draw the game was with 39...e5! Mednis 1997 (pp. 274–76) says that Fischer's 37th move was bad, and thinks he missed a draw with 37...a6. Euwe & Timman 2009 (pp. 55–57), citing analysis of Friðrik Ólafsson and independently Jon Speelman say that Fischer could have forced a draw after 36.a4? with 37...a6 or with 39...e5.
Speelman analyzed the position in depth in his 1980 book, Analysing the Endgame, pp. 74–80, taking into account previous analysis by others. He states that 29...Bxh2 was a bad move, giving White excellent winning chances without any compensating chances for Black. However, the position was not lost after that move; but after two more errors (37...Ke4?! and 39...f5?), Black was clearly lost.
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 1) Chessgames.com
- "Fischer lodged a formal protest [over the second-game-forfeit] less than six hours after the forfeiture. It was overruled by the match committee... Everyone knew that Fischer wouldn't accept it lightly. And he didn't. His instant reaction was to make a reservation to fly home immediately. He was dissuaded by Lombardy, but it seemed likely that he'd refuse to continue the match unless the forfeit was removed." Brady 2011, p. 193
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, pp. 99–100
- Brady 2011, pp. 194–95
- They write that it "had a costly psychological effect on Spassky". Pal Benko and Burt Hochberg, Winning with Chess Psychology, David McKay, 1991, p. 87, ISBN 0-8129-1866-5; Benko and Hochberg also quote Spassky as saying after the match, "My acceding to Fischer's groundless demand to play in a closed room was a big psychological mistake." Id., p. 92
- Evans & Smith 1973, p. 40
- Matanović 1996 (Vol A), p. 481, n. 26
- Alexander 1972, p. 89
- Evans & Smith 1973, pp. 40–42
- Gligorić 1972, p. 41
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 3) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 438, n. 72
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 43–46
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 4) Chessgames.com
- Gligorić 1972, p. 48
- Matanović 1991 (Vol E), p. 251, n. 67
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 47–49
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 5) Chessgames.com
- "Despite the victory [in game 5], neither Bobby nor I was satisfied with the outcome of his king pawn sally in Game Four. "Don't worry. Sunday I will play something that will make you very happy...""A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma" William Lombardy, January 21, 1974, Bobby-Fischer.net
- "Krogius: Of course, we ourselves tried to forecast the direction of the American grandmaster's preparations. I remember that repeated suggestions were made about possible changes in Fischer's style, and in particular his opening repertoire." Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 308.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 308.
- The two prior occasions were at the 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal, when Fischer played 1.c4 against Lev Polugaevsky and Oscar Panno. Gligorić 1972, p. 52
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 51–52
- D. Marović, Play the Queen's Gambit, Maxwell Macmillan Chess, 1991, p. 130, ISBN 1-85744-016-1
- After Furman–Geller, Semyon Furman, Geller, Spassky, and Eduard Gufeld analyzed the game, and "Geller analyzed a plan associated with material sacrifices that would begin with the move 14...Qb7!" Geller was also one of Spassky's seconds for the match, and "during the preparation for the match they studied this position" (after 14.Bb5). Eduard Gufeld, "Inventors and Novelty-Makers", Chess Life, March 2001, p. 26
- Matanović 1976 (Vol D), p. 273, n. 69
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 6) Chessgames.com
- Gligorić 1972, p. 55
- Brady 1973, p. 252.
- Alexander 1972, p. 96
- Gligorić 1972, p. 54
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 112
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 489, n. 163
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 58–59
- Gligorić 1972, p. 59
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 7) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1996 (Vol A), p. 285, n. 36
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 8) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1976 (Vol D), p. 197, n. 32
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 9) Chessgames.com
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 106
- Matanović 1981 (Vol C), p. 466, n. 68
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 133
- Gligorić 1972, p. 71
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 134
- Byrne & Nei 1974, pp. 134–35
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 10) Chessgames.com
- Mednis 1997, pp. 278–79
- Mednis 1997, p. 279
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 489, n. 158
- Fischer games as Black in Poisoned Pawn Chessgames.com. Retrieved on 2009-02-28.
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 11) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1976 (Vol D), p. 289, n. 35
- Matanović 1987 (Vol D), p. 354, n. 27
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 12) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 41, n. 82
- "A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma" William Lombardy, January 21, 1974, Bobby-Fischer.net
- Soltis 2003, p. 271
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 359
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 13) Chessgames.com
- Soltis 2003, p. 275
- Gligorić 1972, p. 116
- Matanović 1987 (Vol D), p. 205, n. 88
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 87–89
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 14) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1997 (Vol B), p. 539, n. 48
- Gligorić, pp. 92–93
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 90–91
- Raymond Keene and David Levy, The 1974 World Chess Olympiad, R.H.M. Press, 1975, p. 34, ISBN 978-0-89058-205-3
- Velimirović vs. Al Kazzaz, Nice Olympiad 1974 (1–0, 28) Chessgames.com. Retrieved on 2009-03-05.
- See also Gunawan vs. Adianto, Indonesia 1983 (1–0, 31) Chessgames.com. Retrieved on 2009-03-05. But see Anderson vs. Gormally, British Championship 2007 (0–1, 73) Chessgames.com. Retrieved on 2009-03-05.
- Nick de Firmian, Modern Chess Openings (15th ed. 2008), Random House Puzzles & Games, p. 255, ISBN 978-0-8129-3682-7
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 15) Chessgames.com
- Larry Kaufman, The Chess Advantage in Black and White, Random House Puzzles & Games, 2004, pp. 4–5, ISBN 978-0-8129-3571-4
- Matanović 1981 (Vol C), p. 327, n. 83
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 96–98
- Gligorić 1972, p. 99
- Gligorić 1972, p. 96
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 16) Chessgames.com
- Gligorić 1972, p. 102
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 81, n. 32
- Alexander 1972, p. 132
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 17) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), pp. 336–37, n. 9
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 18) Chessgames.com
- Gligorić 1972, p. 114
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 48, n. 113
- Alexander 1972, p. 135
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 19) Chessgames.com
- Matanović 1984 (Vol B), p. 335, n. 12
- Gligorić 1972, p. 119
- Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (game 20) Chessgames.com
- Byrne & Nei 1974, pp. 207–08
- Matanović 1997 (Vol B), p. 279, n. 31
- Gligorić 1972, p. 123
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, pp. 192–93
- Andrew Torchia, Fischer is Crowned World Chess Champ, Associated Press, September 1, 1972
- Spassky vs. Fischer, 1972 (game 21) Chessgames.com
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, p. 194
- Soltis 2003, pp. 10–11.
- "Wearing city's gold medal and accompanied by Mayor John Lindsay, Bobby shakes hands with some 3,000 fans attending..." Saidy & Lessing 1974, photo on pp. 224–25; captions on p. 227.
- Larry Evans, in Müller 2009, p. 13.
- "BOBBY'S CHESSBOARD MASTERY". Sports Illustrated. August 14, 1972. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
- Cavett, Dick (February 8, 2008). "Was It Only a Game?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- Seirawan, Yasser. Winning Chess Brilliancies. Microsoft Press. ISBN 978-1857443479.
- Kasparov, Garry. My Great Predecessors, Volume IV. Gloucester Publishers. ISBN 1-85744-395-0.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 412–13
- Weeks, Mark (1997–2008). "1992 Fischer – Spassky Rematch Highlights". Printer. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- William Hartston, Chess: The Making of the Musical, Pavilion Books, 1986, p. 10. ISBN 1-85145-006-8.
- Zhaskyran, Musin (January 2001). "Chess Problems (about chess songs of Vladimir Vysotsky)" (in Russian). Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Alexander, C.H.O'D. (1972). Fischer v. Spassky. Vintage. ISBN 0-394-71830-5.
- Benko, Pal; Hochberg, Burt. Winning with Chess Psychology. McKay Chess Library.
- Brady, Frank (1973). Profile of a Prodigy (2nd ed.). David McKay. OCLC 724113.
- Brady, Frank (2011). Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness (1st ed.). Crown. ISBN 0-307-46390-7.
- Byrne, Robert; Nei, Ivo (1974). Both Sides of the Chessboard. Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co. ISBN 0-8129-0379-X.
- Donner, J. H. (2006). The King: Chess Pieces. New in Chess. ISBN 90-5691-171-6.
- Edmonds, David; Eidinow, John (2004). Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time. HarperCollins Publishers Inc. ISBN 0-06-051024-2.
- Euwe, Max; Timman, Jan (2009). Fischer World Champion! (3rd ed.). New in Chess. ISBN 978-90-5691-263-5.
- Evans, Larry; Smith, Ken (1973). Chess World Championship 1972: Fischer vs. Spassky. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-21546-9.
- Gligorić, Svetozar (1972). Fischer vs. Spassky • The Chess Match of the Century. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-21397-8.
- Karpov, Anatoly (1990). Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a chess world champion. Liberty Publishing. ISBN 0-689-12060-5.
- Kasparov, Garry (2004a). My Great Predecessors, part III. Everyman Chess. ISBN 1-85744-371-3.
- Kasparov, Garry (2004b). My Great Predecessors, part IV. Everyman Chess. ISBN 1-85744-395-0.
- Kažić, B. M. (1974). International Championship Chess: A Complete Record of FIDE Events. Pitman. ISBN 0-273-07078-9.
- Lombardy, William (2011). Understanding Chess: My System, My Games, My Life. Russell Enterprises. ISBN 978-1-936490-22-6.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1996). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. A (2nd ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1984). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. B (2nd ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1997). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. B (3rd ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant. ISBN 86-7297-032-2.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1981). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. C (2nd ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1976). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. D (1st ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1987). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. D (2nd ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant. ISBN 86-7297-008-X.
- Matanović, Aleksandar, ed. (1991). Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. E (2nd ed.). Yugoslavia: Chess Informant. ISBN 86-7297-023-3.
- Mednis, Edmar (1997). How to Beat Bobby Fischer. Dover. ISBN 0-486-29844-2.
- Plisetsky, Dimitry; Voronkov, Sergey (2005). Russians versus Fischer. Everyman Chess. ISBN 1-85744-380-2.
- Roberts, Richard; Schonberg, Harold C.; Horowitz, Al; Reshevsky, Samuel (1972). Fischer/Spassky • The New York Times Report on the Chess Match of the Century. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-07667-7.
- Soltis, Andy (2003). Bobby Fischer Rediscovered. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8846-3.
- Steiner, George (1974). Fields of Force: Fischer and Spassky at Reykjavik. Viking Press.
- Match games available with a PGN chessviewer on Internet on the Chessgames.com website
- Brief comments by Bobby Fischer on the upcoming 1972 Match video clip
- Fischer vs Spassky Documentary BBC documentary
- Spassky vs Fischer 1972, video clips with expert commentary: Game 3, Game 5, Game 6, Game 8, Game 10, Game 11, Game 13