Fischer Spassky Game 21 – 1972 World Championship Match

Spassky v. Fischer – Game 21 of 1972 Championship Match

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Fischer-Spassky match for the chess world championship, I am publishing the games of the match on the anniversary date of each of the games.

The final game of the Fischer-Spassky match was played on August 31, 1972. Fischer had the Black pieces, and Spassky, still seeking to play aggressive chess, began with 1.e4.

Round 21
Spassky-Fischer
Date: August 31, 1972 (*See note below.)

  • 1. e4 c5
  • 2. Nf3 e6
  • 3. d4 cxd4
  • 4. Nxd4 a6
  • 5. Nc3 Nc6
  • 6. Be3 Nf6
  • 7. Bd3 d5
  • 8. exd5 exd5
  • 9. O-O Bd6
  • 10. Nxc6 bxc6
  • 11. Bd4 O-O
  • 12. Qf3 Be6
  • 13. Rfe1 c5
  • 14. Bxf6 Qxf6
  • 15. Qxf6 gxf6
  • 16. Rad1 Rfd8
  • 17. Be2 Rab8
  • 18. b3 c4
  • 19. Nxd5 Bxd5
  • 20. Rxd5 Bxh2+
  • 21. Kxh2 Rxd5
  • 22. Bxc4 Rd2
  • 23. Bxa6 Rxc2
  • 24. Re2 Rxe2
  • 25. Bxe2 Rd8
  • 26. a4 Rd2
  • 27. Bc4 Ra2
  • 28. Kg3 Kf8
  • 29. Kf3 Ke7
  • 30. g4 f5
  • 31. gxf5 f6
  • 32. Bg8 h6
  • 33. Kg3 Kd6
  • 34. Kf3 Ra1
  • 35. Kg2 Ke5
  • 36. Be6 Kf4
  • 37. Bd7 Rb1
  • 38. Be6 Rb2
  • 39. Bc4 Ra2
  • 40. Be6 h5
  • 41. Bd7 0-1

Match score: Fischer 12 1/2, Spassky 8 1/2

The final position does not look like the kind of position one would normally resign. However, Spassky could probably have expected no better than a draw. In which case he would have faced the daunting challenge of winning the final three games to tie the match and retain his title. It must have seemed a futile idea, and resigning must have seemed quite appealing by comparison.

As seems fitting for this match, Spassky’s resignation was attended with some confusion. The game had been adjourned on August 31st, a Thursday. When the game was to resume on Friday, there came reports of Spassky having resigned, and reporters covering the event so annunced. Then news agencies retracted — the reports of Spassky’s resignation had been premature. Then after some time, the announcement was made that Spassky had indeed resigned.

If you want to download the pgn file for the game, here’s a link.

*Note: See my post of game 1 for a note about the dates of the games in this match.

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