SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Walter Dobrich (Vlad to his friends), is no stranger to Canadian chess! When I first started to play tournament chess Vlad was already a master level player. But more important, Vlad was an excellent chess promoter and organizer. He disappeared into the world of backgammon in the late 1970’s, and became a great player there also! In recent times Vlad has opened a club in Toronto and he organizes blitz tournaments every week. (Play starts every Saturday at 2pm at Mom’s Cafe, 1098 Danforth Ave, (1 block east of Donlands subway station) Info: Vlad (647) 207-9342 )
Dobrich (right) awarding a prize to blitz king Gerzhoy
Yesterday Vlad sent me an email about an experience he had with Boris Spassky from 1971 , when Boris was invited to play in Canada. I reproduce the entire email here, with Vlad’s permission. Enjoy!
Great tribute to Boris Spassky!
I’ve had some personal interaction with him when he was World Champion. He played in the Canadian Open in Vancouver in 1971. I was there as well and we both arrived at round six with 5-0 scores and consequently were paired for round six. Showing no respect, I played what I later learned was his pet line in the Nimzo-Indian against him (I had no respect!). after some 30 or so moves I was ready to resign but I saw a chance for a futile attack where I would get to check him once or twice – I could one day tell my grandchildren “I checked the world champion Boris Spassky! I saw I would have to resign after four moves.
For some reason he appeared to be lost in concentration before making his next move which was forced. I looked up, “Why is he looking? This is trivial.” At which point I saw his eyes were bright red! I thought ” I am insulting him when he is clearly tired from last night. His next two moves were slightly different from what I expected and I was forced to resign in three moves instead of four!
Some ten minutes later, in the post mortem room, we played out the opening where he told me that I had misplaced my QB at which point I looked up to see his eyes were bright white. I said ” Boris, your eyes were red like a rabbit’s 10 minutes ago, now they’re white again! His answer was “Caruso was a great singer, he sang beautifully, effortlesly – but in between performances he always had to change his shirt!” What a compliment to me! Especially when I recall that he played sitting sideways to the board as if he had only a passing interest in the position.
A day or two later we were walking the UBC campus and entered the students common room where there was a group of some dozen or so crowded around a chess board going over the days game from the tournament. Boris casually squeezed into the group and suggested some play. At that point, whoever was the chief expounder on the game swatted him away as if he were some annoying fly. Smiling broadly, Boris retreated. The students never knew who it was that tried to make a suggestion!
After the tournament, we happened to be strolling a main avenue in Vancouver and admiring a girl with a micro mini who was displaying some nether cheeks. I said (only chess ever on my mind) “We have a major tournament in Toronto this weekend (the Labour Day Open at the CNE) perhaps you would like to play?
“Unfortunately, my flight goes from here to Ottawa and then to Moskva” said Boris.
” Well we can always change the ticket at a travel agency” said I, just as we approached a travel agency!
“You can do that?” said Boris.
Ten minutes later we were leaving the travel office with a rerouted ticket by way of Toronto.
“This will not cause some problem for you?” said I.
“The KGB has 100 files on me, 101 will make no difference.” said Boris.
And so, we ended up having a great Labour Day Open with five other GMs as well as the reigning World Champion. The GMs were (if I recall) Larsen, Benko, Browne, Byrne and Biguire.
There was a tie for first with Spassky and several of the GMs.
I was the tournament director and can say that I directed the only weekend swiss tournament in the history of chess to boast a reigning world champion as a participant!
Kevin, please feel free to add this to your Spassky tribute. I would love to send him my personal birthday wishes if I only had his email. Do you have his email?