05 August 2022

Cold Warriors of Chess

This blog's Fischer Friday series continues to jump from subject to subject. Last week we had Spassky's Team (July 2022) and this week we jump back to June 1972 when media coverage was building.

In previous posts, notably Bobby Fischer Day by Day (May 2022), I've cited the resource bf-1972 (blogspot.com). If it is at all a reliable guide, media interest in the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Match (m-w.com) started to gather momentum during the second week in June.

Before the match started, originally scheduled for the beginning of July, the focus was on aspects of the cold war between two nuclear superpowers, the USA and the USSR.

One example flagged by 'bf-1972' is Two Kings at The Summit (newspapers.com), shown on the left, captioned 'Illustration, Dave Cross'. The cold war symbolism is unmistakable.

The accompanying 'Two Kings' article by Sandra Shevey is attributed to 'The Miami Herald; Miami, Florida; 11 June 1972, Sun; page 314'. The article was introduced with a brief reference to the geopolitical situation. It said,

Now that [U.S. President Richard] Nixon is back from Moscow, the real summit can begin: America's flamboyant Bobby Fischer facing Russia's reticent Boris Spassky for the world's chess championship in a battle that's bound to be bitter.

With passing reference to sports stars of the 1960s and 70s, it started,

Whatever Joe Namath is to football or Muhammad Ali to boxing, it all goes double for Bobby Fischer and chess. The lone idol of America's three million chess buffs, a player so good he's in a class by himself, Bobby Fischer is a walking example of what it means to have your life completely dominated by trying to corner a wooden king on a checkered board.

As June 1972 morphed into July, the media emphasis turned to the difficulties getting Fischer to play the match. See another previous post, According to Darrach, Day by Day (July 2022), for that chronology.

[On this date 50 years ago, the match score was +5-1(-1)=3, after Fischer had won the 10th game, one of his best wins in the match. The next day Spassky would win his most convincing game.]

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