SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
A universal player, Boris was very fond of the romantic King’s Gambit, having won many games with it, including against the legendary Bobby Fischer. Spassky has a special feeling for the initiative and was , next to Tal, the greatest attacker of his generation.
White gets a strong attack no matter how Black defends: 15… Bxd6 16. Qh7 Kf8 17. cd efQ 18. Rxf1 cd 19. Qh8 Ke7 20. Re1 Ne5 21. Qxg7 Rg8 22. Qxh6 Qb6 23. Kh1 Be6 24. de; or if 15… efQ 16. Rxf1 will most likely transpose into the previous note.
Last year I wrote a blog entry (Spassky according to Spassky) , and for the occasion of Boris’ 75th birthday I reproduce it here.
”… I gave a simultaneous chess display at the Officers’ House in Minsk. I was eleven at the time. In game I checkmated one officer. He asked to take back his move. After two moves I was checkmated. I began to cry bitterly and the game was stopped for 15 minutes… since that time I never allow taking back moves. It was a very sad experience.”
”The game was adjourned, and I had a good position; but I was very tired from analyzing and went to resume next morning unshaven.
”Ocasionally I looked at my games which I played at age of 30, 40, 45 and looked my present games when I was 60 or 62 and I said: ‘Ohhh, I’m crazy…to play such a bad chess after showing such beautiful quality.’So I think I stopped playing very late.”
”I believe that the Marshall is good enough for a draw, which was of course all I aimed for with Black. After this match (with Tal,1965) Bondarevsky and I thought we should erect a statue to Frank Marshall; a very sympathetic player!”
Spassky on Karpov:
”Chigorin was probably the first ‘computer-like’ Grandmaster. He always gave lots of concrete variations and looked at positions without pre-justice.”
”Sometimes I play through games with computer. From time to time computer comes up with very interesting moves…But I think that modern players should learn how to control computer, as otherwise it would be bad for the game. ”
”When I played Bobby Fischer, my opponent fought against organizations – the television producers and the match organizers. But he never fought against me personally. I lost to Bobby before the match because he was already stronger than I. He won normally.”
”Together with Bondarevsky and Krogius, I came to the conclusion that the World Champion, for all his great positional mastery, was not a player of a strict, classical profile. His style, directed towards limiting the opponent’s possibilities, is unique and, particularly in match play, extraordinarily effective.
”Nowadays the dynamic element is more important in chess – players more often sacrifice material to obtain dynamic compensation. Of course, such players were in my generation too and they existed before (for example, Alekhine) but then fewer people played like that than now. When I spoke with Alexander Nikitin (former coach of Garry Kasparov – A.B.), he said that players of my generation had very good understanding of chess, but the game was slower then. Nowadays there is more dynamism in chess, modern players like to take the initiative. Usually they are poor defenders though.”
” I was always fond of the history of chess, and it was very interesting to learn more about the chess world, the first World Champion, the conditions which existed at that time. And what do we have now: if your phone rings you lose the game. I wish I had lived in the 19th century.”
“Now I’m preparing myself to die very peacefully.”
I remember fondly one conversation I had a few years back with Boris Spassky. We were discussing Victor Korchnoi (‘Victor the Terrible’). Boris and Victor had been bitter adversaries for more than 40 years at the time of this conversation, and they had played more than 60 times in official competitions..(including 2 candidates finals)… only Karpov can boast to have played Victor more times.
…Phenomenal capacity to work (both on the board and off the board)
…Iron nerves (even with seconds left on the clock)
…Ability to Calculate (maybe only Fischer was better in this department)
…Tenacity and perseverance in Defense (unmatched by anyone)
…The ability to counterattack (unrivaled in chess history)
…Impeccable Technique (Flawless, even better than Capa’s)
…Capacity to concentrate (unreal)
…Impervious to distractions during the game
…Brilliant understanding of strategy
…Superb tactian (only a few in history an compare with Victor)
…Possessing the most profound opening preparation of any GM of his generation
…Super-human will to win (matched only by Fischer)
…Deep knowledge of all of his adversaries
…Enormous energy and self-discipline