SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
A LOOK BACK AT CHESS HISTORY
Buenos Aires has deep significance to modern chess historians. The site of some of the most prestigious chess events ever: the World Championship match of 1927 between Alekhine and Capablanca; the last Olympiad before World War II (1939), which saw many of the world’s strongest players decide to stay on in Argentina rather than return to Europe; the Candidate-finals between Fischer and Petrosian in 1971.
The finals of the 1971 Candidates Matches between the 28 year old American genius Bobby Fischer and the 42 year old Armenian genius Tigran Petrosian is already a legend of history. Taking place between September 30 and October 19 in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Municipal San Martin, the match was followed by the entire chess world. It was billed as ”The unstoppable force vs the immovable object”.
And what a spectacle it was! Hundreds of journalists from all over the world converged on Buenos Aires. Thousands of chess fans crowded the streets directly outside the teatro , all fully aware that something historic was taking place.
The Obelisk,today a symbol of Buenos Aires, was built in 1936. It stands a brisk 5-minutes walk from where Fischer and Petrosian played, and just 15-seconds from where Alekhine and Capablanca played in 1927!
The rounds began at 5pm in the Martin Coronado auditorium of the theatre. Grandmasters Pilnik and Najdorf explained the moves to the audience in the reception, using a large demonstration board.
Fischer won the first game (extending his unbroken winning streak to 20 consecutive games against grandmasters); Petrosian won the second. Then followed 3 straight draws. The score stood at 2.5 points each.
Then Fischer did his magic: he won the next 4 games in a row! Never before had the ex-world champion lost that many games consecutively! Bobby Fischer became the first American challenger for the World Chess Championship!
This is a present day photo of the Teatro Municipal San Martin from the street. The modern theatre contains 3 main rooms, the largest with a capacity of more than a thousand people. Fischer and Petrosian played their match on the second floor of the theatre.
This is a photo of the chess fans in the lobby of the theatre. Those who could not get a ticket into the actual playing hall! There were thousands more right outside! The auditorium where they played was up the stairs to the back.
The match in progress
Chief Arbiter O’Kelly starting the clock in the 2nd game
Tigran Petrosian (World Champion from 1963 to 1969) deep in thought
Fans in the lobby; notice the pocket sets!
Photos from the actual playing room, following the play of the champions
A baby sleeping in the lobby! The father wanted to see the match!
The final game of the match (9th game); Fischer had just played 1.e4 and a beaten Petrosian sat thinking about his first move, and what they were saying about him in Moscow!
Bobby Fischer sitting for a photo shoot at the closing ceremony. VIPs standing directly behind him.