Reports | October 05, 2012 11:58

Spassky on Russian TV: "I wasn't abducted"

Boris Spassky

For the first time since he moved back from France to Russia, Boris Spassky has appeared in front of a TV camera and the footage has appeared online. The 10th World Champion is doing reasonably well, and says he was not abducted but chose to return to Moscow himself.

Abduction or escape? What actually happened to chess legend Boris Spassky, who mysteriously disappeared in August from his home in Paris? Yesterday reporters of Russia's Channel One visited the 75 year old grandmaster in the hospital for an interview, which was posted online. We embed the video below. 

In the interview Spassky confirms that in France he "felt like being under family arrest". His wife Marina Shcherbacheva seems to have been the main reason for this. Although he has asked for a divorce, Spassky emphasizes that he doesn't want to accuse anyone directly. Spassky's lawyer and unnamed friends helped him to travel to Moscow, where the 10th World Champion is ready to "make a new start".

Later in the video an official medical assessment is shown, signed by Spassky's doctor in charge. It states that the patient is "mentally sane" and "doesn't need psychiatric treatment." His laywer said: "The document proves the fact that Boris feels good and that he is able of expressing his will."

The chess website WhyChess was present as well, and posted their interview on YouTube:

An English translation of this interview is given here. Natalija Pogonina has summarized this interview in English on her blog.

Boris says he is now feeling better, following chess events and hoping to hold a chess training session for kids soon. He also mentions that a certain sponsor is supporting him and paying for the medical treatment. Talking about his relatives, the ex-World Chess Champion says he doesn't understand their motives. According to him, his sister started to try to participate in things she has no idea about, and there is a distance between him and his son. They don't communicate. (...)

On September 26th, French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Spassky's son took unknown people to court for "kidnapping" his father. According to Spassky junior a woman named Valentina Kuznetsova, who visited his father at the French hospital and behaved aggressively, was responsible for the kidnapping. In the Channel One video above, Boris Spassky says that Kuznetsova is "more than an agent" to him.

Until now the story about Spassky returning to Moscow mostly raised questions. On August 17th a shocking "interview" with Spassky was published in one of the leading Russian newspapers, Komsomolskaya Pravda. The 10th World Champion said he was "mistreated" and "kept in captivity" in France, and he decided to return to Moscow.

A few days later Spassky's sister, Iraida Spasskaya, sent a letter to Sovetsky Sport, a daily sports newspaper, and was subsequently interviewed. She gave quite a different version of what happened: according to Spasskaya her brother was taken to Moscow against his will.

Not much later, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Chess Federation Veteran's Commitee, Rimma Bilunova, said that Spasskaya's version was wrong and that the chess legend did return to Moscow voluntarily. The interviews with Spassky above now confirm this statement.

Spassky became World Champion in 1969 by beating Tigran Petrosian in a match. Three years later he was defeated by Bobby Fischer in one of the most famous chess matches in history. In September 2010 Spassky suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. He is the oldest living former world champion.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


choufleur's picture

frankly, this is not so interesting, I would much prefer to see some chess games.

centovic's picture

choufleur - Boris is a former world champion who is much loved and respected by many around the world for his fine chess ability and the way he handled his famous world championship match with great dignity against Bobby unlike you choufleur who is a no-one and a never will be.

Eric's picture

Why do you react so aggressively to the comment of Choufleur? He did not attack Spassky, just that he prefers chess over this type of news. And then calling him a 'No-no' and 'never will be'. These remarks say more about you (centovic) than about Choufleur. Why be so abusive?

valg321's picture

take a chill pill dude

Justin's picture


Justin's picture


cmling's picture

Many of us here are interested in chess players as well as the games they have produced. You can easily find dozens (maybe hundreds) of beautiful games by the 11th World Champion. And many of us, knowing those games, are understandably interested in the fate of the gentleman who produced them. (I use the term "gentleman" on purpose. If you know a bit of chess history - and you might find it interesting after all - you will understand why.)

eric's picture

+1 to choufleur! same stuff in chessbase too! something related to chess please!

Anonymous's picture

When chessvibes gives you chess games the only one comment you make is about naka 2800 before the end of the year...

rado's picture

a bit confusing to me

whykonen's picture

Chess world champions are quite often very interesting people, different from the rest. Is it the obsession of the game that can't be mastered in perfection?

Septimus's picture

So, what is the story? Was he mistreated and if so by whom?

Globular's picture

It is good to see and hear Spassky again. The news at the time of his stroke sounded very grim. His voice sounds strong (at least to a non-Russian speaker, like me). I am glad he is recovering. I wish him well.

mdamien's picture


giovlinn's picture

I feel sorry for the guy, he changed a lot. But I guess that's old age does to you. He was a great player. Bobby Fischer always said that Spassky was the best chess player he ever played.

Anonymous's picture

good he wasn't abducted, nice to hear spassky is kinda well and safe. couldn't kirsan perhaps arrange a temporary friendly abduction like a short flight earth-mars-earth in one of his extra-terrestrial friends' spaceship?

Barone's picture

I've seen a few people, including my own father, becoming progressively more misanthropist when their end was approaching, and trying to "drink away" their last months as much as possible, hence pushing away relatives who are desperately trying to make them follow doctors' orders. It is somewhat harsh for those who love them, but it is a completely understandable and human behaviour (which maybe I myself could find natural adopting when time will come...).
Now, I don't know if this is related to Spassky's case, but after seeing him on this video and remembering how he looked not more than five years ago, these thoughts came up spontaneously.
I wish the best luck to Boris the Champion and to his family and friends.

RuralRob's picture

However this plays out, it sounds like great material for a made-for-TV movie.

"The Abduction of a Champion"

Casaubon's picture

They truly must think we're stupid here in the west. This whole thing stinks.

Jimbo's picture

Same video is in Chessbase with English subtitles.

Sad state of affairs for an esteemed ex-world champ & gentleman. Don't want to comment more without knowing details. Hope he finds peace at last. And he'd better get cracking on finishing his biography!

Thomas's picture

The same video with subtitles is at Whychess who have the copyright - Chessbase just copied their story (unlike Chessvibes here, not even adding any explanatory own text).

noyb's picture

Clearly Boris is still a wonderful man and human being! He also clearly knows what he is doing and still has a wonderful sense of humor and a firm grasp on how to live a good life. All the best to you Boris!

Latest articles