Bobby Fischer

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Bobby Fischer
Fischer playing in Leipzig in 1960
Full nameRobert James Fischer
CountryUnited States, Iceland
World Champion1972–1975 (FIDE)
Peak rating2785 (July 1972)

Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was an American chess Grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion.

As a teenager, Fischer became well-known worldwide because of his skill at chess. He won the American championship of 1963/64, winning all eleven of his games.

Early years[change | change source]

Fischer was born in Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Illinois on March 9, 1943.[1] His birth certificate said that his father was Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German. His mother, Regina Wender Fischer, was a Polish-Jewish American citizen.[2] Born in Switzerland, she grew up in St. Louis, Missouri,[1] and later became a teacher, a nurse, and a doctor.[3] The two married in 1933 in Moscow, USSR, where Regina was studying medicine at the First Moscow Medical Institute. They divorced in 1945 when Bobby was two years old, so he grew up with his mother and older sister. In 1948, the family moved to Mobile, Arizona, where Regina taught in an elementary school. The next year, they moved to Brooklyn, New York.

A 2002 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer said that Paul Nemenyi, a doctor, was Bobby's biological father, not Hans-Gerhardt.[4] Regina and Nemenyi had had an affair in 1942, and he gave her money to help her raise her child every month, paying for Fischer's schooling until he died in 1952.[5] Fischer later told the chess player Zita Rajcsanyi that Nemenyi sometimes came to his Brooklyn apartment and took him to places.[4]

Chess career[change | change source]

Fischer learned to play at the age of six. His sister Joan bought him a chess set. Bobby learned how to play from the instructions. Several years later, he began to play at the Manhattan Chess Club. He became well known around the world in 1956. He was 13 when he played a game against an American player named Donald Byrne. In the game, he sacrificed his queen and won. Chess Review called this game the "game of the century".[6]

Fischer was 14 when he won the U.S. Championship for the first time.[7] This would be the first of eight U.S. Championships he would win.

In 1972, he became the first and only American to win the World Chess Championship in the 20th century. In the 19th century, Paul Morphy was briefly the leading player.[8] Wilhelm Steinitz was the first official world champion. He became an American citizen while he was champion. To win the title, Fischer beat Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. The match was held in Reykjavík, Iceland. However, Fischer did not agree to a match to defend his title. He lost his title in 1975. The title of world champion was given to Anatoly Karpov.[9]

Life after world championship[change | change source]

Fischer did not play in any public matches or tournaments for nearly 20 years. In 1992, he defeated Spassky in a rematch in Yugoslavia. The United States Department of State had told him not to play there because of the events that happened after Yugoslavia began splitting into several new countries. Since he disobeyed this order, he could have been prosecuted if he returned to the U.S. In fact, he never returned there. Fischer's 1992 rematch against Spassky was the only time after becoming the world champion that Fischer played chess in public.[10]

After his match, Fischer promoted a new type of chess called "Fischer Random Chess", where the pieces were randomly shuffled before the game so they would be on different squares to start every game.[11]

In July 2004, Fischer was arrested at an airport in Japan with a bad passport. The United States wanted Japan to send him back to go to trial for playing chess in Yugoslavia in 1992.[12] The government of Iceland eventually decided to make Fischer a citizen of Iceland, and he lived there for the rest of his life.[13]

Death[change | change source]

Fischer died of renal failure on January 17, 2008.[14] He was buried at a small ceremony near the small town of Selfoss, Iceland.[15]

Religions[change | change source]

Fischer was born to a Jewish parent, but he rejected the religion. He used many racist and unreasonable insults toward Judaism.[11][16] Fischer denied the Holocaust. He read books such as Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[11] As a young man, Fischer joined the Radio Church of God.[17] He later left this evangelical Protestant church with outspoken comments.[18] Fischer had a Catholic funeral.[19] It is unclear whether he became a Roman Catholic before his death.

Mental state[change | change source]

Fischer, like Morphy, chose to stop playing when he was still young. He had a lifelong history of disputes, conflicts and controversy. He believed he was the victim of conspiracies. Fischer showed symptoms of the mental illness paranoia, similar to Morphy.[11] In Bobby Fischer: The Wandering King, authors Hans Böhm and Kees Jongkind write that Fischer's radio broadcasts show that he was "out of his mind ... a victim of his own mental illness".[5]

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess[change | change source]

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
AuthorBobby Fischer, Stuart Margulies, Donn Mosenfelder
CountryUnited States
SubjectChess Guide
PublisherLearning International, 1996

Fischer developed a book to teach chess. His co-authors organised it in the form of programmed learning.[20]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Brady 2011, p. 2
  2. Quinn, Ben; Hamilton, Alan (January 28, 2008). "Bobby Fischer, chess genius, heartless son". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  3. Schulz, Von André (October 8, 2004). "Mutmaßungen über Fischer" (in German). Archived from the original on March 30, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Nicholas, Peter (September 21, 2009). "Chasing the king of chess". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 25, 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 22, 135
  6. Barden, Leonard (January 19, 2008). "Obituary: Bobby Fischer". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on March 30, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  7. Burgess & Nunn 2010, p. 213
  8. "Chess History". United States Chess Federation. Archived from the original on March 30, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  9. Helgason, Gudjon (January 18, 2008). "Chess Master Bobby Fischer Dies at 64". Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 30, 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  10. "Editorials & Opinion | Confusing A Game With Life -- Chess, Madness And Bobby Fischer | Seattle Times Newspaper". The Seattle Times. 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Chun, Rene (December 2002). "Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  12. "BBC NEWS | Americas | Japan holds ex-chess star Fischer". BBC News. London: BBC. July 16, 2004. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  13. Ponterotto, Joseph G.; Reynolds, Jason D. (December 2013). "The "Genius" and "Madness" of Bobby Fischer: His Life from Three Psychobiographical Lenses". Review of General Psychology. 17 (4): 384–398. doi:10.1037/a0033246. ISSN 1089-2680. S2CID 147552188.
  14. Laurent, Lionel (January 18, 2008). "Cold War Chess Champ Fischer Dies". Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  15. Bragadottir, Kristin Arna (January 21, 2008). "Chess champion Bobby Fischer buried in Iceland | Reuters". Archived from the original on September 24, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  16. "Open letter to Encyclopaedia Judaica". Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  17. The Radio Church of God later became the Worldwide Church of God, and even later the Grace Communion International.
  18. "Bobby Fischer speaks out!". Ambassador Report. 1978. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
  19. Kumpel, Robert (March 30, 2008). "Did Chess Great, Bobby Fischer, Convert to Catholicism Before His Death? |". Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  20. Fischer, Bobby (1972). Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. Bantam Books. ISBN 9780553107524. Retrieved January 19, 2016.

Further reading[change | change source]