SOLD! Bobby Fischer’s Chess Collection — $61,000

Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield have purchased the chess library of the legendary Bobby Fischer, including notebooks he prepared for his 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky. The Sinquefields acquired the collection through San Francisco-based auction house, Bonhams and Butterfields.

“I am thrilled to have this collection from arguably the greatest chess player in history,” said Rex Sinquefield, founder and board president of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. “I have been a lifelong fan of Bobby Fischer.”

The reclusive Fischer died in January 2008 at age 64. The collection purchased by the Sinquefields includes 320 books on chess; about 400 issues of chess-related periodicals; three sets of proofs for Fischer’s 1969 book, “My 60 Memorable Games”; and a number of bound volumes detailing the match histories of several chess masters, including Spassky.

The Spassky-related works centers on Fischer’s preparation for his historic 1972 match, won by Fischer. The victory ended 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship….

I, along with many others, have followed the tale of the Bekins storage debacle. If all the materials are in fact in order, this is a happy ending. Well, except that Fischer himself never got the stuff back. Details, details. I am happy for the buyers, and happy that the buyers turned out to be chess patrons who will understand the value and significance of what they have received.

Lot No: 3372
Bobby Fischer’s chess library,
including notebooks prepared for the 1972 world chess championship.

1. Approximately 320 volumes on chess including a few match results, various places and languages (including many Soviet imprints), 1889-1992, mostly 8vo, original bindings. Includes about a dozen presentation copies, inscribed by the authors for Fischer and two typed letters signed laid in. At least three volumes bear Fischer’s ownership signature and at least two with other notation by Fischer.
2. Approximately 400 issues of chess-related periodicals, including runs of The Chess Player, Sahovski Informator, Overboard, Revista SAH, “Waxmatbl”, and “Magyar Sakkelet” among others, mostly 1960s-1980s, various sizes, original wrappers.
3. Nine personal floppy disks (unexamined).
4. Three sets of proofs for Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games (published 1969), with the title in various stages (“My Memorable Games: 52 Tournament Games”, “My Life in Chess”) comprising a typescript with copious technical annotations, mostly printers notes, but also various changes to wording and corrections to the chess notation possibly made by Fischer, with a sketch of the title-page on drafting paper apparently in Fischer’s hand; a set of page proofs (loose, possibly in duplicate); and a partially annotated galley proof stamped June 1966.
5. Four volumes of bound typescript detailing the match history of Boris Spassky from the 1950s to 1971 (two vols as white, two as black), apparently prepared by “RGW” and with some manuscript commentary.
6. Fifteen volumes of ring- or string-bound manuscript notebooks with notation of the games of Mark Taimanov and Tigran Petrossian from the 1950s-1970, various hands.

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