By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (September 1, 2022) – In Issue 2022-156 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps, today we celebrata an American master champion.


Bobby Fisher became the first American to win the World Chess Championship 50 years ago today in Iceland.  He defeated Boris Spassky, who represented the Soviet Union. 

Chess is one of those two-player games that has relatively simple rules, easy to learn basics, and has no hidden elements.  But don’t be fooled by the simple look of it.  (If you play chess, you already know this.)

So, how hard can it be to master chess played on a 64 square board with 16 chess pieces per player?    Well, there are more possible iterations of chess games than there are atoms in the universe.  (The number of atoms is estimated at 10 raised to the 80th power, or 10 followed by 80 zeros.)  To win in chess, one needs strategic thinking, consider moves many steps ahead and have lots of practice.  

Sadly, even the brain of a grand champion chess player can be eclipsed by a computer – this happened for the first time in a six-game match in 1997 when IBM’s Big Blue computer beat the then World Champion Garry Kasparov. 

Here is a map of Iceland from 1602 by Ortelius.  Iceland was purposely miss-named by the Norwegians who first inhabited this remote volcanic rock, which actually has a relatively mild climate thanks to the Gulf Stream, to keep others away.

Map of Iceland circa 1602 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.