Spassky surfaces – on Russia 1TV's Tonight Show

1/30/2013 – You read about it last August: 75-year-old former World Champion fled from his house in Meudon near Paris and turned up in Moscow, with a harrowing story of "house arrest" in France and danger to his life. In October he appeared on Russian TV, looking frail and out of sorts. Spassky, who turned 76 today, appeared on a popular TV show, with short hair and in better shape and good spirits.

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Last weekend's Tonight Show (Сегодня Вечером), a top Saturday programme on the main Russian TV Channel 1, was dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of Vladimir Vysotsky, the Soviet singer, songwriter, poet, and actor whose career had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. Vysotsky did a song on the 1972 Spassky-Fischer match, which was the reason why Boris Spassky was invited by the popular television host Andrey Malakhov to appear on the show. together with famous actresses and actors, including 1981 Oscar winner Vladimir Menshov.

In the following video of the show you need to jump forward to 64 min 30 sec and run it until 69 min 45 sec. Our colleague Valery Golubenko has kindly made an English language transcription of this segment, with assistance provided by Steve Giddins:

You can also watch the show at the original 1TV site

Television host: Another song of Vladimir Vysotsky was written under the impression of nationwide foreboding before the chess match between Boris Spassky and Robert Fischer.


At this stage (64' 40") they play the chess song by Vladimir Vysotsky


During the song they show images of a very young Spassky...


... and the youthful super-talented grandmaster...

Then, 66 minutes into the segment: "And today in our studio the legendary chess player, world chess champion from 1969 to 1972 years, Boris Spassky! Boris Vassilievich, good evening! How do you feel about the song that Vysotsky dedicated to you?"

Boris Spassky: I just listened to this song. I must say that this song didn't impressed me at all. The real drama of our match touched me so intensely, I felt all the small details. It seemed to me that this song... [Television Host: ... over simplifies the situation?] Yes, in a manner of speaking...

Television Host: And did you manage to meet and touch base with Vysotsky in person, and tell him that?

Boris Spassky: You know, to my great regret, I didn't manage to get together with Vladimir Semyonovich, in spite of the fact that we were both married to French women of Russian descent. It seemed that our paths should have fatefully crossed, either in France or Russia [Voice Off: ...or in an airport], but that wasn't to happened. Nevertheless, if I may say so, I was in a long-distance friendship with Vladimir Semyonovich, ever since my student days, because I followed him as a singer. Vladimir Semyonovich possessed the unique ability to find a path to the heart of every his listener. I think this unique gift brought him nationally acclaim. [Applause]

Television host: We have heard in more recent times that at moments of great stress, Vladimir Semyonovich sought help from drink. And what about you, as a chess player? Indeed, you also need to relax. I know how huge stress you do experience before games...

Boris Spassky: I didn't experience any stress. I was sure I could win this match.

Television host: So you didn't experience any insomnia or something else? Iron nerves...

Boris Spassky: Yes, I was in quite good shape [applause]. Nevertheless I was crushed by Fischer in this match. So, the real hero of this song is in fact Bobby Fischer, with whom I was on very friendly terms, by the way. He was my friend.

Television host: But now you live in Russia, I cannot but ask you? Because you are really... [broken phrase]

Boris Spassky: Yes, yes, I live in Russia.

Television host: With France that's it? You are finished?

Boris Spassky: With France, yes... [applause] When I'm in Russia I miss France, when I'm in France I miss Russia. Likely, the same happened with Vladimir Semyonovich, I guess.

Television host: If Vysotsky were alive today, to whom or what events would he dedicate his songs?

Boris Spassky: This question is too difficult for me. So, I resign [applause]. I cannot answer it.

Television host: Boris Spassky was not the only Russian whom Vladimir Vysotsky dedicated his songs...

Closing statement by Boris Spassky [77 min 27 sec]: In my opinion, Vladimir Semyonovich possessed an advanced personal quality of the social responsibility (Voice Off: It is true). Notably, it's felt in all his songs even just now...

Copyright Golubenko/ChessBase

Previous ChessBase articles on the Spassky plight

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.
Spassky's sister: help save my brother!
23.08.2012 – New and even more shocking revelations around Boris Spassky: last Saturday a Russian newspaper reported that the former World Champion had "fled" from his home in Paris to Moscow, where he had told a harrowing story of being held under "house arrest", fearing death. Now his sister in St. Petersburg turns the story upside down and fears that her beloved brother may have been abducted.
Spassky resurfaces in Moscow – Interview and TV news footage
05.10.2012 – In August we reported that the former World Champion Boris Spassky had disappeared from his home near Paris, where he said he had been under "house arrest" and in fear for his life. Then his sister expressed concern that he might have been abducted. Now Spassky has appeared on Russian TV to explain his situation, while the news portal Whychess has recorded an in-depth video interview.

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