Full name: Boris Vasilievich Spassky
Title: International Master (1953), Grandmaster (1955)
Born: January 30, 1937
Place of birth: Saint Petersburg, Russia (formerly known as Leningrad, USSR)
World Ranking: 522
Classical (Std): 2548
Boris Vasilievich Spassky is a Chess Grandmaster hailing from Saint Petersburg, Russia (formerly known as Leningrad, USSR). Boris is best known for becoming the youngest chess player at the time to earn the Grandmaster title in 1955 after winning the World Junior Championship then.
In 1969, Boris emerged victorious from a match with Tigran Petrosian and became the tenth World Chess Champion. He held onto this title for three years before losing to Bobby Fischer in the widely popular 1972 game. But despite his loss to Fischer then, this match established his international fame.
Boris is famous for having a universal chess play style, a perk that made him become a versatile player in the game. This distinct play style of his also helped him defeat multiple Chess grandmasters during his several Chess matches.
Prior to his chess career, Boris had a rough childhood as he suffered through the Siege of Leningrad during the Second World War. After his hometown became under the control of the Army Group North of Nazi Germany, Boris, along with his older brother Georgy, had to evacuate to an orphanage located in the village of Korshik.
Fortunately, despite almost dying from hunger, Boris’ parents managed to reunite with him and his brother at the orphanage before it was too late. After reuniting with their parents in the said orphanage they evacuated in, Boris and his older brother moved to the Moscow region, where they remained until the summer of 1946. In the same year, Boris’ family came back to Leningrad, where he “found himself at the mercy of chess” the following months after his return to his hometown.
Boris recalls in an interview that he first started learning the Chess moves while riding a train on the way to the village of Korshik as he evacuated from Leningrad. He was only five years old at the time. He also mentions picking up the game’s rules by watching the elders play rounds of Chess at the orphanage he stayed in. In fact, one night, when nobody else was present, Boris played his own round of chess by removing the last pawn and wiping the entire white army with a single rook.
And at just ten years old, Boris immediately had a grand entrance into the Russian Chess world. After all, he claimed victory in a match with Soviet champion Mikhail Botvinnik at a simultaneous exhibition held in 1947. Ever since he began his chess career at ten years old, Boris has frequently trained daily with master-level coaches for multiple hours.
His training proved to be fruitful, as he’s garnered multiple Chess achievements at just a young age. Due to his exemplary skills, he was even commended by Botvinnik.
Boris’ skill in Chess clearly manifested during his young years. After all, he became the youngest Chess player from the Soviet region to reach the following milestones in his chess career: first category rank at ten years old, candidate master rank at eleven years old, and Soviet Master rank at fifteen years old.
When Boris was sixteen years old, he also shook the global Chess scene during his international debut in 1953, after tying with Laszlo Szabo on 12/19 in a chess game held in Bucharest, Romania. It was also during this year that Boris earned his International Master title awarded by FIDE. For more information on ratings, see the step-by-step guide on how to get a FIDE rating.
And by 1955, at age eighteen, Boris won the World Junior Championship that took place in Antwerp, Belgium. He scored a 6/7, allowing him to reach the finals. During the finals, he scored an 8/9, putting him one complete point ahead of Edmar Mednis.
Moreover, since Boris’ performance at the said match met the qualifications for the 1956 Candidates’ Tournament, he ended up securing the Chess Grandmaster by then. At the time, he became the youngest Chess player to earn the Grandmaster title.
In addition, Boris is also known for beating six undefeated World Champions more than two times. These chess players included the likes of Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, Mikhail Tal, Anatoly Karpov, , Bobby Fischer, and Garry Kasparov.