The original World Chess Championship chess set used by Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky at their legendary match in Iceland in 1972, signed by both men, soared to $76,275 at a weekend multi-estate sale held earlier this month by Philip Weiss Auctions. The sale was held in the firm's spacious gallery facility, located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside.
The chess set was used in the third match of the series, dubbed the "back room game" because Fischer blamed his loss in the first match (and subsequent default in the second match) on cameras in the room. But for the third match, he got Spassky to agree to play in a small room, away from the cameras' glare and out of view from spectators. He won that match, and the title.
Also, an archive of personal material pertaining to Mr. Fischer - an intensely private and even reclusive man - crossed the block, fetching $9,888. The lot included a copy of the book My Seven Chess Prodigies, by John W. Collins, inscribed by Fischer "to adorable Zita from Bobby," dated 1991; and several love letters written to Zita (evidently the love of his life), from the '90s.
The chess set was the top lot in a three-day auction event that was a blockbuster by anyone's standards. Over 1,500 lots in a wide array of categories crossed the block, and in the end more than $600,000 had been spent by eager bidders. They participated in person, over the phone, via absentee bids and online.
The auction kicked off with a session dedicated to postcards, paper, autographs and rock 'n' roll memorabilia followed the next day by a sale which featured folk art, Native American items and militaria. The Sunday session had stamps, coins, transportation, aviation, automotive and marine. "Outstanding live, internet and phone participation made this sale a success," Philip Weiss said.