Spassky resurfaces in Moscow – Interview and TV news footage

by ChessBase
10/5/2012 – 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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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 that true?

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…

Source: Whychess

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 at 100
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.

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