29 July 2022

Spassky's Team

The previous post in this Fischer Friday series, 'Only an IM' (July 2022), was about IM {Jivo / Iivo / Ivo} Nei. I neglected to mention that he co-authored a book about the match: Both Sides of the Chessboard (books.google.com; 'An Analysis of the Fischer/Spassky Chess Match'; Quadrangle 1974) by Robert Byrne and Iwo Nei. [NB: Add 'Iwo' to the variants for spelling Nei's first name.]

Although that Google page says, 'No eBook available', there is a digital copy at Both Sides of the Chessboard (archive.org). It is offered with 'Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming'. One of the 15 photos in the book is shown below.

The caption said,

The Russian contingent leaves a press conference at the Loftleidir Hotel on July 1st after hearing of Fischer's delay in arriving in Iceland. (l. to r., Ivo Nei, Boris Spassky, Nikolai Krogius, Efim Geller).

GM Krogius died earlier this month. For an obituary, see Nikolai Krogius (1930-2022; fide.com).

I've referenced the book 'Russians Versus Fischer' by Plisetsky and Voronkov, several times on this blog, often for the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Match. See, for example, The 'Clear Head' Theory (October 2009), concerning Karpov's participation in the preparations for the match. Toward the end of the book is a section titled 'Sports Committee Post Mortem' by Yuri Averbakh. It starts,

Shortly after the Spassky v Fischer match a meeting was held at the USSR Sports Committee to discuss its results. It was attended by Spassky, his coaches Geller and Krogius, and some top chessplayers including Tal, Petrosyan [Petrosian], Boleslavsky, Kotov, and Korchnoi.

Also invited were members of the Presidium of the Soviet Chess Federation, FIDE Vice-President B. Rodionov, Chairman of the RSFSR Chess Federation V. Boikov, and Chairman of the Leningrad Chess Federation A. Tupikin.

The meeting was chaired by V. Ivonin, Deputy Chairman of the Sports Committee with special responsibility for chess. I have kept the notes I made during that meeting as the then Chairman of the Federation.

Given that the meeting was a classic exercise in corporate style finger pointing, Nei, who was not present, was not spared. For example:-

Geller: 'The delegation's composition was also ill-considered. Spassky had no idea what it should be like. Nei, for example, mainly performed the functions of a fitness coach. We suspect that information leakage occurred during the match.'

Spassky: 'My first concern was to improve my health. Nei proved to be very helpful in that. But we clearly missed a manager: organizational matters took up a lot of our energy. [...] Mistakes had been made in the selection of the delegation. This is my fault. We had no leader, we shouldn't have taken along Nei and I should have taken my wife instead.'

From this we learn that Nei was expected to serve as a team manager. As for 'leakage', this is not about the book with GM Byrne, which was published two years later. A discussion of the book or of Nei's role in its writing goes beyond the scope of this current post. He wrote the introductions to the games and supplied other valuable annotations, but did not divulge any secrets.


Fifty years ago today, our two intrepid cold warriors had time off between games eight and nine. The score was 5-3 (+4-2=2) in Fischer's favor.

No comments: