Exceptional chess memorabilia

Today at 5 pm at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen we will be offering the chessboard etc. used during the legendary match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in 1972.

The Drawing of Lots Ceremony in Laugardalshöll Arena in 1972:

GM Harry Golombek (UK) to the left introducing the contestants. Fischer has arrived at long last, standing next to Golombek. In the middle stands Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson, chairman of the Organizing Committee, and Spassky can be seen beside him. On the stage behind the contestants are GM Efim Geller (USSR), GM Bill Lombardy (USA) and GM Nikolai Krogius (USSR). The two arbiters Lother Schmid (Germany) and G. Arnlaugsson (Iceland) were also present on the stage, but cannot be seen in the photo.

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40th anniversary of the chess match of the 20th century

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

The venue was Arena Laugardalshöll in Reykjavik, Iceland, midway between Moscow and Washington, at the peak of the Cold War. Thus the match 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 after W. Steinitz in 1886 (The 1st World Chess Champion).

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. In addition, the original contemporary Staunton pieces from the match equipment and Garde chess clock (same brand as used in the match), are also up for auction.

The chess table itself, with its two matching side tables, was designed by Icelandic furniture designer Gunnar Magnússon and made by cabinetmaker Ragnar Haraldsson, and its design and beautiful execution caused quite a stir. Two extra tables were made 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. 

Historic chess drama

Bobby Fischer was extremely unhappy with several aspects of the historic match in 1972, including the initial chessboard’s design and especially the presence of the cameras. He demanded that the cameras were removed and when his demands were not immediately met, he forfeited the 2nd game, which he therefore lost without a fight.

2-0 down, many believed that the match was over and that Fischer possibly would leave Iceland. He agreed, however, to play the 3rd game in an adjoining room without spectators or cameras. What’s more, the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had urged Bobby Fischer to meet and try to beat Spassky, so not only was there a sporting interest in the chess match, but there were also international political undertones.

Later in the match the initial stoneboard was finally replaced by this wooden chessboard up for auction made by cabinetmaker Ragnar Haraldsson. This board hence became the battlefield from the 7th game and onwards until the 21st game. The appearance of the board became a crucial turning point in the historic battle between the two post-war superpowers, the USA and the USSR. The chessboard up for auction were signed by the two competitors, Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

The chess lot up for auction

The lot up for auction consists of board, table, chess pieces and clock:

Chessboard: This wooden chessboard was the very one chosen by the representatives of the two competitors and accepted by the players themselves to be the one replacing the initial stone board. The change of the chessboard took place early in the match and hence it became the battlefield from the 7th game and onwards until the 21st game. After the match it was signed by Fischer and Spassky.

Chess table: Designed by Icelandic furniture designer Gunnar Magnússon and produced by cabinetmaker Ragnar Haraldsson. Two extra and identical tables were made after the famous chess match. The chess table up for auction is one of the two, and has been used at the World Championships candidate match between Boris Spassky and Vlastimil Hort in Reykjavik in 1977.

Chess pieces: Original contemporary set of Staunton pieces, a reserve set from the 1972 Match.

Chess clock: Original Garde chess clock. Same brand as used in the match.

Auction & Preview

The chess memorabilia will be sold on Bruun Rasmussen’s international auction 830 at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday 14 June from 5 pm.

The preview takes place at the same address from Thursday 31 May, at which a speech about the legendary match will be given by Mr Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson, former Chairman of the 1972 Chess World Championship Organizing Committee, at 4 pm. The preview continues until Monday 4 June.


For Russian version

For Chinese version


Please note, the chessboard and the related items did not found a buyer at the auction, and were therefore not sold!


For further information, please contact:

Director of sales and estimates:

Peter Christmas-Møller: +45 6035 1004 · pcm@bruun-rasmussen.dk