Spassky's surge toward the top would begin in 1961 when he won his first Soviet Championship. He would win the Soviet Championship again in 1963 asserting himself as a legitimate future world title contender. Spassky's improved results and greater consistency were in part due to him studying with a new trainer, Igor Bondarevsky. It was at this time where Spassky's attacking style became more refined and his play became more ubiquitous. In 1964 Spassky would finally qualify for the Interzonal, and in 1965 he would win the Candidates Match and qualify to play for the world chess championship against Tigran Petrosian. The match would take place in Moscow in 1966. Spassky fought valiantly but could not take the title from Petrosian and narrowly lost the match 12 ½ to 11 ½.
Undeterred by the defeat, Spassky marched forward in his quest to become world champion. In 1966 he won in one of the strongest tournament fields assembled, the Piatagorski Cup, finishing half a point ahead of Fischer. In 1968 Spassky would again win the Candidates Tournament, defeating Victor Korchnoi in the final. This earned him a rematch against Tigran Petrosian for the world title. The two once again played in Moscow in 1969. Spassky was at last victorious by a final score of 12 ½ to 10 ½. Spassky would hold the title for three years before his epic "match of the century" against Bobby Fischer would take place in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972. He would go on to lose to Fischer 12 ½ to 8 ½ and go into the history and trivia books forever. Spassky would eventually have a long friendship with the troubled and misunderstood Fischer.
Spassky played in the Candidates Tournament in 1974 for the right to rematch Bobby Fischer for the crown. He eventually lost in a semifinal match to Anatoly Karpov, who would ultimately earn the right to face Fischer. Spassky played in the Candidates Tournament in 1980, but again failed to reach the final and would never again play for the championship. In 1992, Spassky played Fischer in a controversial 20th anniversary return match for the "championship". The controversial match was held in war-stricken Yugoslavia. Fischer again defeated Spassky. Fans were delighted to see the reemergence of Fischer, but most chess critics agreed that both Fischer's and Spassky's best chess was behind them. Spassky continued to play infrequently throughout the 1990's. In the past decade Spassky has been a wonderful ambassador for the game of chess. Today, Boris Spassky is the oldest living former world champion and is easily one of the most revered and respected figures in chess. He is admired both for his flexible all-around style and benevolent outspoken personality.v
Some Famous Boris Spassky Quotes:
"I am sure that chess has a splendid future, because it is an eternal struggle."
"The best indicator of a chess player's form is his ability to sense the climax of the game."
"Spassky sits at the board with the same dead expression whether he's mating or being mated." – Bobby Fischer
"As a fellow traveler and living witness of Spassky's progress, I can testify I know no man is more capable of self-perfection than Spassky." - Victor Korchnoi