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Bobby Fisher – American Chess Genius

Robert James Fischer, called Bobby Fisher, was US Chess Champion at the age of 14 and qualified 1972 as a challenger to the world chess title.

He has won his chess matches against the world’s best chess players at that time with an incredible high score and finally won the World Championship against Chess Grandmaster Boris Spasski in Reykjavik/Iceland, where he died at the age of 64.

Candidates Matches Results were:

Fischer – Tajmanow 6:0
Fischer – Larsen 6:0
Fischer – Petrosjan 6,5:2,5

Something like this had never happened before!

“I don’t believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.”
– World Champion Bobby Fischer

Bobby ‘s Youth

Robert James Fischer was born on 9th March 1943 in Chicago. (Michael Reese Hospital) Bobby grew up without father and learned to play chess from his older sister Joan at the age of six.

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Bobby Fisher lived with his mother in New York/Brooklyn. His mother was working most of the time and Bobby spent a lot of time reading books and russian magazines about chess theory and was well informed and up to date with the latest theoretical developments of this game.

He entered the chess club of Brooklyn when he was 8 years old. When he was thirteen he was taught chess by a teacher, but he was already very strong, because in the same year he played his famous game against chess grandmaster Donald Byrne. This game was called: The Game of the Century.

In this fantastic game of chess he played the Grünfeld Defence as Black, sacrificed his queen, gained a devastating attack and won. And here you can replay it!

Chess Game of the Century!

He won the US Championship eight times! When he was 15 years old Bobby became Chess Grandmaster.

He replayed the games of the old masters like Paul Morphy, William Steinitz, Alexander Aljechin and Raul Capablanca, but was especially impressed by the American chess genius Paul Morphy (1837-1884), who showed incredible creative abilities in his chess combinations.

Bobby Fisher learned a lot from them and later on studied the games of the fifth world champion Michael Botwinnik, a soviet player, who played the game scientifically, very cautious and statical. But this was not the style Bobby wanted to adopt at all.

Bobby was interested in chess only, so he dropped school at the age of sixteen. His play became stronger and more mature and he surpassed the best American player at the time, Samuel Reshevsky. Bobby Fisher made chess in the USA more popular as he gave various interviews and was seen in talk shows.

Playing style of Robert James Fischer

His style was tense and hard fought. He was not playing for a draw, but fought until the bitter end, as long there was a slight chance to win. He had an iron will to win and sometimes he won games that were normally drawn, because the opponents couldn’t keep up with the precise technical play of Bobby.

He had good chess instincts and intuition and he hardly made any mistakes and was always looking for new ways to improve. Bobby Fisher played like a chess machine, his play was ruled by iron logic. Some opponents were afraid of his almost perfect technical style and tried to avoid certain variations as not to run into Bobby’s home preparations.

In the candidates match the Russians prepared variations against him, which were not matching his character and playing style to lead him on the wrong path. (Candidates match Fischer-Petrosjan).

Bobby researched his openings at home and he prepared long opening variations before he sat down to play. Sometimes he revived old variations, sometimes dubious, and refreshed them by applying new moves to surprise his opponents.

He had an extremely good memory and knew everything about chess that had been discovered in the past and the present.

Bobby’s uncompromising Attitude

Bobby Fisher had an uncompromising attitude in chess and in life. This was partly the reason why he had often problems with the organisers of tournaments as he often demanded better playing conditions and more money. In this way he improved the playing conditions for other chess players as well.

1961 he played a match against his American rival Samuel Reshevsky organized by the American Chess Federation which collected 8000,- Dollar for the match. After eleven rounds it was still 5,5:5,5 and Reshevsky proved that he was still very strong.

But after that, the match came to an end because of a dispute, which finally ended at the courts. The 12th game had to be played at the 2.August in the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. But because of a Jewish celebration day Bobby and Reshevsky (both jewish) agreed to play the game later at the 14th of August at 1 pm.

At 10 am Bobby was told on the phone that the start of the game had been changed to 11 am, as this was the wish of Jacqueline Piatigorsky, who liked to watch the game, but at the same time wanted to visit a concert given by her husband the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and it was her wish that the game should begin earlier.

But Bobby refused to play at this time, as this was to early for him. He mentioned the agreement that both players had agreed upon and didn’t appear to the game at 11 am. One hour later the judge declared the game as lost for him. The result was 6,5 : 5,5 for Reshevsky.

The next game had to be played four days later in New York. In New York the American Chess Federation did not accept the decision made in Los Angeles.

Bobby Fisher did not turn up to play this game as well and the match was declared as lost for him. 7,5 : 5,5 for Reshevsky.
He received 5000,-$ but Fischer did not receive the remaining 3000,-$ (as the loser was entitled to receive 3000.-).

Fisher went to court in New York and won. But because of his uncompromising attitude he gained a bad reputation in the business world, which was financing chess in the USA.

Fisher Quotes

  • Bullshit! Of course I am a genius, but a woman can’t judge that.
  • Chess is like war on a board.
  • That’s what Chess is all about. One day you give your opponent a lesson, the next day he gives you one.
  • All I want to do, ever, is just play Chess.
  • Don’t even mention losing to me. I can’t stand to think of it.
  • I don’t believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.
  • If I win a tournament, I win it by myself. I do the playing. Nobody helps me.
  • Is it against the law to kill a reporter?

Bobby became World Chess Champion

After he had beaten Tajmanow, Larsen and Petrosjan he was the challenger and played 1972 against the world champion Boris Spasski in Iceland/Reykjavik.

Bobby lost the first game on forfeit because he didn’t come to the game as he had to discuss financial problems with the organisors. Finally the london banker James Slater offered more prize money and Bobby returned to the chess board. He won the match 12,5 : 8,5.

Bobby Fisher became world champion but he never played competitive chess anymore, became reclusive.

Bobby Fisher, important chess games!

Bobby Fischer’s Comeback

But 1992, twenty years later, he played a rematch for 5 Million US$ against Spasski in Yugoslavia. But as a U.S. citizen, he was subject to the prohibitions under Executive Order 12810, dated June 5, 1992, imposing sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro and this prohibited U.S. persons from performing any contract in support of a commercial project in Yugoslavia, and because of all this he was not allowed to play chess in Yugoslavia.

In spite of that Bobby did play the match and won again, 10 wins to 5 losses, with 15 draws, but could not return to the United States fearing of getting arrested and lived in Budapest, Philippines and Switzerland. On the Philippines he met his chess friend Torre, a chess grandmaster himself, who introduced him to some women.

Bobby arrested in Japan

He finally ended in Japan 2004, where he was arrested at the airport by the Japanese authorities, when he tried to take a plane from Japan to Manila, because his passport had been declared invalid by the american government.

Nine months imprisonment followed and Japan prepared the deportation of Fisher to the United States. Fortunately the government of Iceland granted Bobby Fisher asylum in acknowledgement of all the popularity Bobby has brought 1972 to Iceland during the world championship.

Bobby’s Death

Bobby Fisher lived for another three years in Island among friends and died on January 17th 2008 on kidney failure in his home in Reykjavík.

My deepest respect to the small country of Iceland: It has made a great gesture to a great chess player.

Bobby! We will never forget you. After all, we got your games!

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