Lot #711. 1972 Reykjavik African Blackwood Chessmen


In stock


1972 Reykjavik African Blackwood Chessmen.

Offered here is a set of the 1972 Reykjavik African Blackwood Chessmen. The original Reykjavik chessmen, Jaques 50040, were 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. The chessmen are Boxwood and rich African Blackwood, heavily weighted, with green English baize base pads. The King stands 3-3/4″ tall with a 1.6″ diameter base. This King height is often referred to as the Tournament Size.  The King side Rooks and Knights are stamped with a red crown on their summits. The 1972 Reykjavik African Blackwood Chessmen are housed in a solid Rosewood hinge-top box. Although lacking the exquisite craftsmanship and finish of the Pre-WWII Jaques chessmen, the Jaques Reykjavik design used for the 1972 World Championship is very playable, durable, and has a great board feel. This was a special-order set of chessmen for the Founder of The House of Staunton and the only one ever made in African Blackwood.

African blackwood is extremely expensive and considered to be among the hardest and densest of woods in the world. Among some 285 species tested, (including Lignum Vitae), African Blackwood was found to be the hardest. 

The Chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/4″ squares. Included with your new set of chessmen is a period-correct facsimile of the original Jaques label that was affixed to the inside of the lid of the box used to house the chess pieces in the match. The chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/8″ or 2-1/4″ squares. The chessboard shown is not included, but a suitable new or antique chessboard can be found elsewhere on our site.

Some Background

The World Chess Championship 1972 was a match for the World Chess Championship between challenger Bobby Fischer of the United States and defending champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. The match took place in the Laugardalshöll arena in Reykjavík, Iceland, and has been dubbed the Match of the Century. 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! Fischer became the first American born in the United States to win the world title, and the second American overall (Wilhelm Steinitz, the first world champion, became a naturalized American citizen in 1888). Fischer’s win also ended, for a short time, 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship. The first game was played on July 11, 1972. The last game (the 21st) began on August 31, was adjourned after 40 moves, and Spassky resigned the next day without resuming play. Fischer won the match 12½–8½, becoming the eleventh undisputed world champion.

Additional information

Weight8 lbs
Dimensions14 × 12 × 10 in

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