Daily Rome Shot 550, etc.

There’s a shop on the Piazza Navona where there are many chess sets for sale.  Note also special decks of cards for Italian games like scopa and briscola.  There are decks from different regions for their games, Brescia, Naples, Lombardy, Piacenza, Sardinia… Salzburg.

Click for larger.

Once upon a time, there was no internet.  There were no smart phones.  People had to engage with other people.  One of the ways they engaged was through games.   I recently read an interesting book –  Birth of the Chess Queen: A History – about the evolution of the chess piece the Queen.  It was written by a feminist, but there was some good history and, in the balance, not strange.  The book served to underscore the importance of games in history.

On the theme of chess…

Fifty years ago TODAY, 1 Sept 1972, the Match of the Century came to a close.

On 31 August, Spassky and Fischer entered into a Sicilian Taimanov [1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6] face off.  The game adjourned for the say at move 40, Spassky sealing his next move into an envelope for the next days, today’s, resumption at 2 PM.

At Noon, Spassky called the match’s arbiter and resigned the 21st Game, which made Fischer the 11th World Champion.  He asked that the announcement be made from in the hall from the stage.  Hence, at 2PM, the arbiter went to the microphone and said

‘Ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Spassky called me at 12.50 today and resigned the game. This is an accepted and legal practice.’ Schmid continued: ‘Mr. Fischer has won game no. 21 and he is therefore the winner of the match. The final result is 121/2-81/2!”

Fischer stood there as the thunderous applause went on.

Spassky did come to the closing ceremony on 3 September.

During the speeches Fischer was analyzing the 21st game on a pocket set.

For more, and a source I used, try…

The Match of All Time: The Inside Story of the legendary 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Chess Championship in Reykjavik


The edgy Roman writer Martial said that if, during the summer, a boy is healthy he has learned enough.  (Epigrams 10, 62)

I was 12 when the Match was going on.  It was 1972.  The first hand-held calculator was on the market ($395 = $2800 today).  The IRA was bombing.  The Godfather had premiered.
Bobby Orr was still playing.  In August, Nixon was renominated at the RNC.  During the chess Match in Iceland, the Summer Olympics had started in Munich, with a bad end on 5-6 Sept.  During the Fischer-Spassky Match, it was the depths of the Cold War.  I was in the great American West, with my grandparents in Montana and Wyoming, living a boyhood now hard to imagine in these troubled times.  The summers had been filled with sun and grass and horses and games, some organized, some not so much.  I played a lot of chess in those days.  Each day during the Match, I couldn’t wait to get the newspaper so I could see what had happened.

Aestate pueri si valent, satis discunt.

It was 50 years – half a century – ago.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. gvhorwitz says:

    I really stink at chess. It’s an adhd things along with the inability to see images and in my mind (aphantasia). But the game fascinates me. It’s so eligant.

    Because of that I have a number of beautiful sets, the craftsmanship is a true thing of beauty. Those in your image are lovely for sure

  2. Amina says:

    I remember that summer, we saw the TV olympics outside. Gymnast Nadia Comaneci was my age and Dorothy Hamel haircuts became the thing. Bobby Fisher was always in the news during the 70’s- he was some type of child prodigy.

  3. Grant M says:

    This takes me back. I was 15 in August 1972. The Match in Iceland had sparked a chess craze at my local high school. Every morning before assembly you would see a cluster of students gathered around two boys playing speed chess. Everyone would give comments and suggestions, helpful or otherwise.

    August is mid-winter in New Zealand: our summer holidays were in January. No horses, but bikes, boats, beaches and bush-clad hills. In winter we often went skiing.

    Yes, the Godfather was released to tremendous acclaim. My father took me to see it. I was struck by the numinous power of the Latin liturgy, also by the luminous beauty of Michael Corleone’s lovely Sicilian bride. In December astronauts walked on the moon for the last time to date. I wonder if we will return in my lifetime.

    In retrospect it seems like paradise. In the outside world there was Vietnam, Munich, the IRA and the PLO, but all these things were a long way from our island in the South Pacific, and made us feel even more safe and secure.

    [Artemis will soon launch. We hope.]

  4. PostCatholic says:

    The photo reminds me of Leavitt & Peirce tobacco in my hometown of Cambridge, MA. (https://www.leavittandpeirce.com/shop) I know you’ve visited the area, I hope you’ve had a chance to poke around that particular Aladdin’s cave? Their website does not do the shop justice.

  5. jaykay says:

    “… living a boyhood now hard to imagine in these troubled times”.

    It is, it absolutely is. Things to remember from my summer of ’72, when I was going on for 12:

    ° we built a tree-house (well, my friend’s father did most of the heavy lifting but hey…)

    ° during a “siege” of said treehouse I got a nasty cut on my head from a missile (stone, that was quite permissable) and had to get stitches in the local hospital, which was only about 500 yards away so good… the Matron, and some of the nurses, were Sisters of Mercy, in white habits. “Mercy”… not so much, I thought. My mother kept a tight-lipped silence,
    which was heavily significant of paternal retribution to come (she’d brought me there, of course, and knew them all – and I’d ruined a perfectly good shirt).

    ° the paternal retribution wasn’t too bad – what could you do to an 11-year-old with stitches?

    ° my friend’s uncle and family came to visit from the US (Poughkeepsie, as I recall) and he brought him a frisbee, which we’d never seen before. Great fun – he was a ‘Nam vet and still bloody fit. He also brought an American football – which we used for playing rugby. He wasn’t too impressed. He was a great guy, Swedish-American.

    ° back to school on the first Monday in September. Latin still compulsory (we’d started at age 11 the previous year) and most of the teachers were Priests. 0n Wednesdays and Fridays we sang at the Rosary and Benediction at 7.30 in the school chapel.

    ° rigid discipline – corporal punishment still, very much, existed. It was just a part of life, you got on with it.

    ° and short haircuts – no arguments, above the collar of your school blazer, and that was very much that. Uniforms were compulsory, of course.

    Eheu, fugaces…

  6. dmcheney says:

    That picture would make a great jigsaw puzzle :-)

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