Fischer-Spassky: The 1972 World Chess Championship

Jon Edwards

The World Championship match between the American challenger Bobby Fischer and the World Champion, Boris Spassky was held in Reykjavik, Iceland during July-August, 1972. Fischer, the young American with an ELO rating of 2780, defeated Spassky and in a sense, the entire Soviet chess machine.

In honor of the match, Iceland issued Scott 442. 2,000,000 stamps were printed in 40,000 sheets. As the first two illustrations show the sheets differed. Sheets marked with plate numbers 3A 1A 2A 1A have no horizontal perforation in the left margin.

Sheets marked 3B 1B 2B 1B have horizontal perforations in the left margin. In addition, the individual perforations of the left vertical row are visibly smaller than the other perforations on the sheet.

The games of Fischer-Spassky, 1972

The first day of issue was supposed to coincide with the first game of the match on July 2, 1972. The cover below was signed and sent by Fred Cramer, then the Vice President for the US Chess Federation and the main representative for Fischer during the match.

Match covers conatin many different cachets... with pieces, emblems, medals, cartoons, caricatures, photos, match scenes, buildings, and game positions. Common covers sell for $2. The following is a registered cover sent on the first day of issue.

It is easy to get carried away. There was a program, a regular chess publication, there are match game tickets, banquet invitations, menus, table cloths, and napkins, all bearing the commerorative stamp!

Thanks to the early machinations, game 1 actually occurred on July 11. Closing ceremonies were held on September 3, 1972.

It's relatively easy to assemble covers from each day of the match... a significant challenge to assemble postally used covers from throughout the match! Here are the registered covers that I know about. As is evident, approximately 5,000 registered covers were made, with a lot of activity on day one (assuming they started with #1)

 Date		Reg #

July 2		The originally scheduled opening date of the match

July 2		151 	
July 2		275	
July 2          474
July 2		591	
July 2		599
July 2		604
July 2		605
July 2		606
July 2		607
July 2		608
July 2		611
July 2		612
July 2		613
July 2		614
July 2		615
July 2		616
July 2		619
July 2		621
July 2		758	 

July 11		GAME 1 	[Fischer endgame blunder; S 1 F 0]

July 11		748	
July 11		809	
July 11		811 	
July 11		815
July 11		855	

July 12		937

July 13		GAME 2 	[Fischer forfeits; S 2 F 0]

July 13		1004

July 15		GAME 3 	[Fischerís first ever victory against Spassky: S 2 F 1]

July 16 	1099
July 16 	1171 
July 16 	1178 	 
July 17 	1244 
July 17		1317 	 

July 18		GAME 4 		[F 2.5 S 1.5]

July 18 	1316


July 20		GAME 5 		[F 2.5 S 2.5]

July 20 	1460 

July 22		GAME 6 		[F 3.5 S 2.5]

July 23         1522

July 25		GAME 7 		[F 4.0 S 3.0]

July 25         1654
July 26         1739

July 27		GAME 8 		[F 5.0 S 3.0]

July 27         1789

August 1	GAME 9 		[F 5.5 S 3.5]

August 1        1920

August 3	GAME 10 	[F 6.5 S 3.5]

August 3        2042
August 3	2095
August 4        2130 	

August 6	GAME 11 	[F 6.5 S 4.5]

August 6        2249

August 8	GAME 12 	[F 7.0 S 5.0]

August 8        2360
August 9        2482

August 10	GAME 13 	[F 8.0 S 5.0]

August 10       2495
August 11       2608

August 15	GAME 14 	[F 8.5 S 5.5]

August 15       2720
August 15       2825

August 17	GAME 15 	[F 9.0 S 6.0]

August 17       2849
August 18       2981

August 20	GAME 16 	[F 9.5 S 6.5]

August 20       3025

August 22	GAME 17 	[F 10.0 S 7.0]

August 22       3217
August 22	3257 	 
August 23       3339

August 24	GAME 18 	[F 10.5 S 7.5]

August 24       3477
August 25       3542
August 25	3598	

August 27	GAME 19 	[F 11.0 S 8.0]

August 27	3712	
August 27       3713

August 29	GAME 20 	[F 11.5 S 8.5]

August 29       3944
August 30       3955

August 31	GAME 21 	[F 12.5 S 8.5]

August 31       4119
August 31	4120	
August 31	4124 	
August 31	4126	
September 1	4277	
September 1     4285
September 3     4773
September 3     4883
September 3	4885	
September 3	4886