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     Volume 4 Issue 25 | December 17, 2004 |

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Time Out

A noble foe Chess

World champions are known for their tenacity and determination to hang on to the title! The top position has a peculiar charm of its own.

In the distant past, there was no official body to regulate chess. And champions were almost free to choose the challenger. Obviously, they chose the ones who would give them the least trouble! That did not serve the purpose of merit and fair play, but the champions were happy to face the players that they could beat rather easily.

But things became a lot more disciplined when FIDE was established in 1924. Even then the champions were enjoying undue advantage and could still avoid facing the strongest players through clever manoeuvring (off the board!). The way Alekhine avoided a return match with Capablanca is a good example of how the champions made the best out of the absence of well defined rules and regulations.

That said, world champion Boris Spassky did not quite have the same experience. He was burdened with the unpleasant task of defending the title in a match with Bobby Fischer--- the 'impudent' American who was threatening to tear apart the Soviet supremacy. The psychological pressure on Spassky must have been enormous when he finally sat down to defend the title. He was not just an individual facing a highly talented, blood-thirsty opponent. Spassky was representing a system built over 50 years. The problem with the masters of the system was that they were not ready to accept the truth that an arrogant American, having nothing except his talent, could win against a Soviet world champion. It was far more than losing the title; it was like losing a battle of honour to the 'despicable' Americans.

Spassky tried his best, but lost to the great American. But he never did anything unsporting or indecent, even though many disturbing things happened during the match as Fischer began to behave like the '|problem child' that he was throughout his career. Spassky was a dignified loser who placed chess above everything.

Here is a game played by the 'gentleman'. Spassky unleashes a powerful attack to score the full point against the Danish grandmaster.

White-Bent Larsen
Black- Boris Spassky [A01]
USSR-World, Belgrade 1970
1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 Bc5 6.Nxc6 dxc6 7.e3 Bf5 8.Qc2 Qe7 9.Be2?! 000 10.f4?? Ng4! 11.g3 h5 12.h3 h4! 13.hxg4 hxg3 14.Rg1 Rh1! 15.Rxh1 g2 16.Rf1 Qh4+ 17.Kd1 gxf1Q+ 0-1

Position after12...h4!


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