Modern Jaques Fischer Spassky Chess Set, No. 50040.
A Jaques Fischer Spassky Chess Set, circa 1980. The chessmen are Boxwood and Ebony, heavily weighted. The pieces are cushioned atop green felt. The King stands 3.8″ tall with a 1.6″ diameter base. This King height is often referred to as the Tournament Size. The White King is stamped “Jaques London ” on the rim of the base. The King side Rooks and Knights are stamped with a red crown on their summits. The Jaques Fischer Spassky Chess Set includes the original divided and lined Mahogany hinge-top box with its green manufacturer’s label. The white pieces have developed a dark patina. The pieces are in excellent condition with no damage. This is Jaques Product Number 50040 in their catalogue. The Signature Rosewood and Curly Maple chessboard shown is not included in this sale, but are available elsewhere on this site. For our complete inventory of antique and modern chessboards, check here. For a brief look at the Jaques Company story click here. If you are looking for more information on the Staunton Chessmen, check here. Some tips on collecting Staunton chessmen can be found here.
The Jaques Fischer Spassky chessmen are the style chessmen demanded by Robert J. (Bobby) Fischer for his World-famous 1972 Cold War Era World Championship match with Soviet Grandmaster and then World Champion Boris Spassky. Fischer’s win broke the 30 year iron grip the Soviet Union had held on the World title. The match was full of suspense and possibly the most followed sporting event of the century. It featured the drama of Fischer’s refusing to continue play after his demands were not met, plus phone calls from then President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger imploring him to play “for the honor of his country.” In spite of falling behind 2-0, Fischer stormed on to win the match by an impressive 12.5 – 8.5. The result is even more impressive if you exclude Fischer’s forfeiting Game 2!
Although lacking the exquisite craftsmanship and finish of the early Jaques chessmen, the Jaques Fischer Spassky design produced in the U.K. through the early 1970s was very playable and durable. The pieces made a good tactile impression. Due to rising labor costs in the UK, Jaques made the decision to move its production of these legendary chessmen to India in the mid-1970s, where they could be produced at a small fraction of the cost. It soon became evident that the carvers and turners in India did not fully understand the design. Knights lost detail and became increasingly larger and more ungainly. The crisp detail found in the English-made sets was lost. This remained the case until production of the Jaques Fischer Spassky chessmen (Jaques Product No. 50040) was moved to The House of Staunton in the late 1990s.