$120K Will Buy You the Chessboard From 1972’s ‘Match of the Century’

Bobby Fischer
(Tyrone Dukes/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
Bobby Fischer Versus Boris Spassky
(David Attie/Getty Images)


When most think of America’s greatest non-military victory over the Soviet Union during the Cold War, it’s usually the so-called “Miracle on Ice” from the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, that gets top billing. But we’d like to suggest that it happened eight years earlier. In 1972, two sportsmen met in open combat in Reykjavik, Iceland, sparring for chess supremacy at the World Chess Championship. That day, American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer bested his Soviet opponent Boris Spassky, becoming the first American-born chess player to win the championship, and also ended the Soviet Union’s 24-year reign at the event. It was a crushing defeat.

Despite all the accolades and media attention that came along with the title, Fischer wouldn’t play another competitive match for another 20 years and slipped into obscurity. He did reemerge on the 20th anniversary of the ’72 championship to play Spassky again in Yugoslavia. (He won.) However at the time, there was a U.N. embargo on the country (which also included activity within the country), and Fischer was ruled in violation by the U.S. government. A federal warrant for his arrest was issued. Because of this, he was deemed a fugitive and never returned to the States again. He died in Reykjavik in 2008.

Fischer Versus Spassky Chessboard
(Heritage Auctions)
Fischer Versus Spassky Chessboard
(Heritage Auctions)


Now, Heritage Auctions is offering the centerpiece from the ’72 World Chess Championship—the chessboard Fischer beat Spassky on, autographed by both men—for the second time in as many weeks. Originally on sale at the “Sports Collectibles Catalog” auction from Nov. 17–19, with an opening bid of $100,000 (there were no takers), it’s shelf-life has been extended to 8 a.m. Central Time on Dec. 5. You can either buy it now for $119,500, or contact Heritage with a comparable offer. (Pre-auction estimates for the piece were in excess of $300,000.)

To inquire about the piece, buy it, or make an offer on it, click here. Below, watch a video on the history of the top chess champions over the years (the highlight of the data visual is seeing Fischer’s meteoric rise).

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