NAME: Boris Vasilievich Spassky
BIRTHDATE: January 30, 1937
BIRTHPLACE: Leningrad (St. Petersburg)
CREDENTIALS: Won the Junior World Chess Championship at the age of 18 and earned the rank of grandmaster at that tournament. Defeated Tigran Petrosian in 1969 to become World Champion. His reign ended after three years when he lost to Bobby Fischer in the 1972 "Match of the Century" during the height of the Cold War. He continued to win many tournaments, however, such as the 1973 USSR Championship, and he has played evenly with Garry Kasparov.
Considered an all-rounder on the chess board. Known for an extremely flexible style of play that enables him to take advantages of weakness of opponents. This dynamic characteristic of his approach to chess makes for interesting and entertaining games. In fact, one of his beautiful games in 1960 against David Bronstein was used for a sequence in a James Bond film, From Russia With Love.
Learned chess at the age of five. A year later he and his family escaped from Leningrad (St. Petersburg) as it came under attack from the Nazis. By the age of 18 he had become grandmaster of the game that he loved--Chess, with all its philosophical depth, its aesthetic appeal, is first of all a game in the best sense of the word; a game in which are revealed your intellect, character, will. After losing his match to Fischer, Spassky returned to his homeland in disgrace, but he soon began winning tournaments again, including another USSR Championship. The polite, graceful manner in which he has handled both wins and losses have earned him the title "The Noblest Russian of Them All". He married a French woman in the 1970s and became a French citizen in 1978.