Chess Match of the Century table up for sale

by ChessBase
4/1/2012 – Wondering what to do with all that extra cash lying around? Looking for a nice present for your chess-fanatic husband? Well, the international auction house Bruun Rasmussen in Copenhagen may have just the thing for you: the board, chess pieces, table and clock used in parts of the 1972 Reyjkavik match. Price estimate: up to 1,800,000 Krone = Euros 241,000 or US $324,000. Press release.

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Press release

Chess Match of the Century!

Bobby Fischer v Boris Spassky – 40th anniversary of the chess match of the century

The greatest chess match in history took place in the summer of 1972, when the three times [sic] reigning Russian World Champion Boris Spassky (1937-) was challenged by the American Bobby Fischer (1943-2008).

The match took place in Reykjavik, Iceland, at the peak of the Cold War, and thus became a symbol of the political confrontation between the two superpowers. Bobby Fischer won the dramatic, hyper-exposed showdown in Reykjavik, making him the first American to win this prestigious title.

Auction of the fabled chessboard

To mark the 40th anniversary of the world famous chess match, Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen will, this summer, be offering the chessboard used during the legendary chess match in Iceland in 1972.

The chessboard up for auction was used from the famous 3rd game of the match, which, at the request of Bobby Fisher, was played outside the arena in an adjoining room without cameras. The original board used in the match, which was made of lava stone and marble, was used during the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th games.

Bobby Fischer was extremely unhappy with several aspects of the match, including the chessboard’s mineral materials, the size of the squares and the presence of the cameras. He demanded that these aspects be changed and when his demands were not immediately met, he sat out the 2nd game, which he therefore lost without a fight.
2-0 down, many believed that the match was over and that Fischer would leave Iceland. He agreed, however, to play the 3rd game in an adjoining room on the chessboard up for auction, without spectators or cameras. What’s more, the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had urged Bobby Fischer to beat Spassky, so not only was there a sporting interest in the chess match, but there were also international political undertones.

The lava board was replaced by the chessboard up for auction in the third game and used again from the 7th–21st game. The appearance of the wooden board in the match would thus become a crucial turning point in the historic battle between the two post-war superpowers, the USA and the USSR. The chessboard is signed by the two competitors, Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

The chess pieces up for auction are original contemporary Staunton pieces, used as a training set when the games were adjourned. The chess clock is from 1972 and was possibly used during the training sessions.

The chess table itself, with its two matching side tables, was designed by Icelandic furniture designer Gunnar Magnússon, and its design and beautiful execution caused quite a stir. Two extra tables were made immediately after the famous chess match. They are identical to the table used during the actual tournament. The chess table up for auction is one of the two, and has since been used, among other things, at the World Championships candidate match between Boris Spassky and Vlastimil Hort in Reykjavik in 1977.

Gunnar Magnússon’s first chess table was used throughout the match, with the exception of the infamous 3rd game played in an adjoining room. Today, the chess table, lava stone board, the pieces and the clock from the 1st game of the match belong to the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik.

Preview and auction

  • Bruun Rasmussen’s international auction 830 at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen.
  • Preview: Thursday 31 May – Monday 4 June 2012
  • Auction: Thursday 14 June at 5 pm.

    For further information, please contact director of sales and estimates Peter Christmas-Møller on tel. +45 8818 1003 or e-mail

    Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Sundkrogsgade 30 • DK-2100 Copenhagen,
    Tel: +45 8818 1072

The famous Match of the Century table in the Fischer-Spassky Museum in Reykjavik

Our correspondent Alina L'Ami visited the museum and sent us these pictures

A cartoonist's impression of the two players sitting at the table

Fischer, it was thought at the time, made copious use of his mental energy

Copyright L'Ami/ChessBase

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