Spassky's best years were as a youthful prodigy in the mid 1950s, and then again as an adult in the mid to late 1960s. He seemed to lose ambition once he became World Champion. Some suggest the first match with Fischer took a severe nervous toll, but others would disagree as he was a sportsman who appreciated his opponent's skill. He applauded one well-played game of Fischer, and attempted to defend Fischer when he faced jailing.
Some might suggest his preparation was largely bypassed by Fischer, but the match saw several important novelties by Spassky. Instead, Fischer was an incredible player in 1972, having won an unprecedented 20 games in a row, and Spassky probably showed he was number 2, and the match saw many enjoyable games. While one suggested he felt the disappointment of his nation for losing the title, others would say he conceived of himself as his own man and after the match took French citizenship. He had the equanimity to appreciate what was the chess event of the century, as chess occupied the spotlight for almost a year.
Never a true openings maven, at least when compared to contemporaries such as Geller and Fischer, he excelled in the middlegame with highly imaginative yet usually sound and deeply planned play, which could erupt into tactical violence as needed.
Spassky succeeded with a wide variety of openings, including the King's Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.f4, an aggressive and risky line rarely seen at the top level. Indeed, his record of sixteen wins (including victories against Fischer, Bronstein, and Karpov), no losses, and a few draws with the King's Gambit is unmatched. The chess game between "Kronsteen" and "McAdams" in the early part of the James Bond movie From Russia With Love is based on a game in that opening played between Spassky and David Bronstein in 1960 in which Spassky ("Kronsteen") was victorious.
His contributions to opening theory extend to reviving the Marshall Attack for Black in the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5), developing the Leningrad Variation for White in the Nimzo-Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5), the Spassky Variation on the Black side of the Nimzo–Indian, and the Closed Variation of the Sicilian Defence for White (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3). Another rare line in the King's Indian Attack bears his name: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5!?
Spassky is respected as a universal player, a great storyteller, a bon vivant on occasion, and someone who is rarely afraid to speak his mind on controversial chess issues, and who usually has something important to relate.
Read more about this topic: Boris Spassky
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