10th World Champion, 1969 - 1972
Boris Vasilievich Spassky was born in 1937 in Leningrad, Russia. He learned chess as a youngster in the Urals where he lived during the Second World War. He became international master in 1953, and junior world champion in 1955 and received his grandmaster title in the same year. He won the World Championship against Tigran Petrosian in 1969 and became one of the most popular of all champions with his naturally polite, friendly disposition.
In 1972 American Bobby Fischer challenged Spassky for the title of World Champion which was held in Reykjavik, Iceland. This most publicized world championship in chess history took place during the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. As a consequence both players were under considerable pressure to win. When Fischer defeated Spassky, 35 years of Soviet domination of the world championship also ended. Spassky returned to his homeland in disgrace.
After this match Spassky continued to play at top level and won the 1973 Soviet championship and other international tournaments. He still plays occasionally today and is a frequent participant in the annual Ladies vs. Veterans competitions.
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