Boris Spassky: "I am not accusing anyone!"
Report by GM Vlad Tkachiev, photos by Irina Stepaniuk
On 2 October, Boris Spassky gave an interview to the Russian TV First Channel
and Whychess editor Vlad Tkachiev. The 10th World Champion spoke of his health, his family problems and his move to Moscow. Russian speakers can
watch this exclusive interview in the video below. For the benefit of non-Russian
speakers, Whychess prepared an English transcript.
Start the video and read the subtitles or the transcript below – it
is an experience you will not forget
Spassky speaks: "I have to start again, from nothing!"
How do I feel? Better. Both my legs are now OK, and I am walking somewhat better
than before. I am trying to think positively. I am thinking about my chess school.
I would like to attend the winter session.
I left Russia for France in 1976. It was not an easy decision, because I was
at war with the Soviet Sports Committee. The main problem was that in this period,
I lost the right to choose my tournaments. I received invitations from all over
the world, but the Sports Committee refused to send me to tournaments. Consequently,
when I arrived in France, I felt happy, and I started to play everywhere that
I felt was necessary and important. I started my chess path in France from the
beginning, from nothing. Now, too, I have returned to the beginning and must
start everything over again, because I have nothing. At the moment, fortunately,
a sponsor is helping me, who is paying for my rehabilitation and helped me get
out of France. So, one can say that I have again made "long castling",
from Paris to Moscow.
I would not say that I ran away. It was my desire to return to Russia, because
my time in France had run its course. It was time to start a new stage. I understood
it was time to leave, because serious dangers had arisen, both to my health
and, one could say, to my morale.
Is it really the case that someone wanted me dead? It is quite possible. I
was isolated. Perhaps I was partly to blame as well. I could have been more
active. The medications I was taking stopped having a positive effect, and I
wanted to improve the process of my recovery.
I was also very, very unhappy with the
actions of my sister Iraida. Because she, as they say, "meddled with
things she knew nothing about". I don't understand her motives for doing
this. Nor do I understand my wife's motives. But there is nothing terrible about
this – OK, I don't understand. So be it. With Boris, my youngest, I prefer
to be at a fair distance. He has his own life, and it is quite successful. He
is a successful businessman. I have long since ceased to be a businessman, and
I don't want to become one.
Question by Whychess: Even so, I have to ask this. As far as I understand,
your son filed a complaint with the police, alleging you had been abducted,
and that when he finally found you in the Moscow clinic, after some searching,
you told him you had no memory of how you had come from Paris to Moscow. Is
I would rather let that be on his own conscience and let him answer for it.
I refused to speak to him about it. But I would not dare to accuse anyone of
any evil designs against me, because to do that, you need to have some concrete
reason, and we must take responsibility for our own words. So I try to be very
careful in this respect. When I felt that my treatment had stalled, I was a
little worried about this and I wanted to improve conditions, so that the road
to recovery would be open. I am quite content with my position in Moscow now,
I will continue in the new rehabilitation treatment centre.
I repeat, I must start everything again from nothing. But I am not frightened
of that. I am not frightened of poverty. I am frightened only of poverty and
illness together. So, I am not going to count on him. If we shoud find a suitable
basis for communication, thank God. I do not wish to fight with anybody. That
seems unnecessary to me. We are all mortal and we can all make mistakes. One
must be tolerant.
But what about the fact that you have been accused of being senile –
doesn't this offend you?
Yes, you know, this was said. But I do not mind: there could have been even
more serious charges made. It's not my responsibility. I answer for my own actions
and words, let the others do the same for theirs. I'm ready to devote some time
to getting some justice restored, to avoiding offence, humiliation, etc.
And finally: I read a few interviews recently with you about your case.
Still, as the French say, "cherchez la femme" – some say that
in this case there is another woman involved.
There certainly ought to be another woman!
Do you still follow chess tournaments that are going on?
I try to do so.
How far have you got in working on your book My Chess Life?
Unfortunately, this requires a lot of work. My book of memoirs will be called
"My Chess Path", and will trace my chess journey, from A to Z.
Starting from the Leningrad Pioneer Palace?
Even earlier, from when I learnt to play.
Can we say how far along the path you are? One half perhaps, or two thirds?
I would say somewhere, like…four eighths (smiles)
Do you see some parallels between your fate and that of your friend and
opponent, Bobby Fischer?
Well, the parallel is that, if you take for example my internal war, the war
within my house [in France], …then it ended with the sale of my property.
Fischer also had his small archive, located in a place in Pasadena, and at some
point, this was robbed and his property sold [Presumably a reference to Fischer's
claims about his storage box of Mexican comics and other stuff, which was sold
off after he apparently failed to pay the bill – Translator]. But you
know about this better than I do – it was quite recent.
And something similar happened to you?
Even worse. But that's not the issue. [Long pause] I don't see specific moments
that are parallel between Fischer's fate and mine. The only thing is kidney
trouble. He also had trouble with his kidneys. I took his death very badly,
the death of Fischer…
Last night there was a report on Spassky on Russia's
Channel One, which our Russian speaking readers can watch:
Previous ChessBase reports
||Boris Spassky, fearing death, 'flees' to Russia
18.08.2012 – Since Thursday we had been searching
for the 75-year-old former World Champion who, his wife told us, had disappeared
from their house in Meudon near Paris. Now he has turned up in Moscow,
with a harrowing story, which he revealed to the Russian newspapers Komsomolskaya
Pravda. After a stroke in 2010 he was rehabilitating in France, where
he apparently felt trapped. Interview.
||Chess player and benefactor Jacqueline Piatigorsky dies
21.07.2012 – U.S. chess lost one of its major
figures with the passing of Jacqueline Piatigorsky at age 100. Her accomplishments
as an organizer, benefactor, and player were legion. As a player she came
second in the US Women's Championship in 1965, but worldwide she is most
famous for organizing, among others, the Piatigorsky Cups in the 1960s
with Fischer and Spassky. Obituary.