When the Icelandic Chess Federation made a bid to host the 1972 world title match between Soviet icon Boris Spassky and American challenger Bobby Fischer, many Icelanders were rightly shaking their heads in disbelief. How could their small island country in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with a population of less than 300 thousand people stage such a prestigious event in the first place?
Undeterred and naively optimistic the young President of the Icelandic Chess Federation, Gudmundur Thorarinsson, set to work and to everyone’ s astonishment theirs was the winning bid. But that was only the beginning of one of the most amazing stories in chess history …
Bobby Fischer’ s demands and whims constantly jeopardized the match. First, the American chose not to board his plane in New York, and then he came late for the first game. That game he lost after a silly blunder and the second game he lost because he didn’ t turn up in a fight about noisy cameras. But next, he won the third game, which was played in a back room, and the rest…. is history.
Fifty years on, Gudmundur Thorarinsson has written a tell- all book about ‘ The Match of the Century ’, crammed with
behind- the- scenes stories and improbable twists and turns. Reading his gripping account of probably the most iconic sports contest during the Cold War, you will understand why he prefers to call it ‘ The Match of All Time ’.
And why reliving this most unlikely adventure he comes concludes : ‘ It was not possible to organize this match, nor was it possible to rescue it… but still it was done! ’
Gudmundur Thorarinsson ( 1939 ) is a chess organizer and civil engineer from Iceland. In 1972, as the chairman of the Icelandic Chess Federation, he organized the ‘ Match of All Time ’, the World Championship Match between Spassky and Fischer. He served on the Reykjavik city council and was a member of the Icelandic parliament for many years.