It is no secret I am a huge fan of Bobby Fischer’s chess brilliance and for his extended reign of chess excellence, Garry Kasparov as well. Since the two lives overlapped but the men never met competitively, this was the motivating force behind my deciding to write K2K4 (Knight to King 4: The Fischer-Kasparov Match). When I wrote, I imagined the scenes unfolding as if on a movie screen. Not to say I was being presumptuous; it is merely how the characters took form in my mind.
In any event, much to my initial surprise I found the person who displayed the greatest emotional depth and the one who as an actor I would strive to portray was neither Fischer nor Kasparov. Hence Boris Spassky took on greater import in my mind and in my book.
From the American-centric vantage point in 1972, it was all about Fischer. But Spassky was no slouch. An accomplished player (after all how many have ever achieved the championship heights he scaled), Spassky had handled Fischer in all previous meetings prior to the ’72 match. Yet Boris’s greatness derives not merely from the chessboard. In the face of Fischer’s eccentric demands, it was Spassky who thought of the sport first and conceded on many points so that the greatest match ever could proceed. Then he lost with a good grace I could never see Bobby exhibiting. Life back in the Evil Empire after losing the throne was challenging to say the least. Yet the man again prevailed, finding a new life in France.
As a character, my Spassky demonstrates a range of emotions ranging from proud champion, dedicated sportsman, gracious loser, anguished exile, and a man at peace with himself. So all hail not just the character but the real Boris Spassky, who best demonstrates the nobility of man.