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Bobby Fischer stood up to the Soviet machine and won. He later stood up to the American machine and was destroyed by it. Bobby Fischer was a martyr to freedom. R.I.P. Bobby Fischer.
Interesting post! I followed the World Championship Match in 1972 in the media and we were all pulling for Fischer. I didn't know much about him but several of my chess playing friends felt Fischer would win. Later, in the 1980s, I took lessons from one of the best chess players in the world, Sammy Reshevsky, who was quite a rival of Fischer's. Reshevsky was also a contender for the chess world championship title.
Tournament and match summary
1955U.S. Junior ChampionshipLincoln26210–20
1956U.S. Amateur ChampionshipNew Jersey32121
1956U.S. Junior ChampionshipPhiladelphia8111
1956U.S. OpenOklahoma City5704–8
1956Rosenwald TrophyNew York2548–10
1956Eastern States OpenWashington, D.C.4202–4
1956Manhattan Club Championship, semifinalsNew York2124
1957Log Cabin OpenWest Orange4026
1957Log Cabin 50–50West Orange322unknown
1957New Western OpenMilwaukee5216–12
1957U.S. Junior Open ChampionshipSan Francisco8101
1957New Jersey State OpenEast Orange6101
1957North Central OpenMilwaukee4215–11
1957U.S. ChampionshipNew York8501
1958U.S. ChampionshipNew York6501
1959Mar del Plata8413–4
1959U.S. ChampionshipNew York7401
1960Mar del Plata13111–2
1960U.S. ChampionshipNew York7401
1962U.S. ChampionshipNew York6411
1963Western OpenBay City7101
1963New York State OpenPoughkeepsie7001
1963U.S. ChampionshipNew York11001
1965U.S. ChampionshipNew York8121
1966Piatigorsky CupSanta Monica7832
1966U.S. ChampionshipNew York8301
1970InterzonalPalma de Mallorca15711
1957Max EuweNew Yorkmatch011lost
1957Rodolfo Tan CardosoNew Yorkmatch521won
1958Dragoljub JanoševićBelgradetraining match020tied
1961Samuel ReshevskyNew York & Los Angelesmatch272unfinished
1971Tigran PetrosianBuenos AiresCandidates531won
1972Boris SpasskyReykjavíkWorld Championship7113won
1992Boris SpasskySveti Stefan & Belgradematch10155won
YearEventLocationWinsDrawsLossesOpponentBoardIndividual rankingteam ranking
1970USSR vs WorldBelgrade220Tigran Petrosian2won individual matchteam lost
Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)
By Bill Wall
Robert James (Bobby) Fischer was born at 2:39 pm on March 9, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois (Michael Reese hospital) to Regina Wender Fischer Pustan (born in Switzerland of Jewish parents on March 31, 1913 and raised in St. Louis). For the father, the birth certificate said it was Hans-Gerhardt Fischer (born in Berlin on September 28, 1908). Hans-Gerhardt was a German biophysicist from Berlin (Hans and Regina married on November 4, 1933 in Moscow).
Regina started out in medical school in Moscow, but did not graduate. She then became a riveter at a Soviet defense plat. She later became a grade school teacher, a registered nurse, a physician (she first entered medical school in the Moscow in 1933 but did not complete her medical degree), and completed a PhD in hematology. She went on to doing pro bono medical work for the poor in Central America and South America. She could speak English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese fluently.
Regina had worked as a stenographer, a typist, and a shipyard welder in Portland, Oregon, during World War II (Brady, page 2).
In 1945 Hans-Gerhardt Fischer left the Fischer family and divorced Regina. He was born in Berlin in 1908. He moved to Santiago, Chile. Hans never lived with Regina in the United States. Bobby Fischer never met his father. Regina had custody of Bobby and his older sister, Joan Fischer Targ (born in Moscow in 1938 and died on June 2, 1998 in Portala Valley, California of a cerebral hemorrhage).
In 1948 they moved to Mobile, Arizona where Regina taught in an elementary school.
In 1949 they moved to Brooklyn, New York where Regina worked as an elementary school teacher and a registered nurse at Prospect Heights Hospital in Brooklyn. Regina moved to Brooklyn (Apt Q, 560 Lincoln Place) to get her master's degree in Nursing Education at New York University.
The Fischer family first lived in an apartment at 1059 Union Street in Brooklyn. Later, they moved to a four room apartment on Lincoln Place the corner of Lincoln and Franklin), in a four-story brick building. On the first floor was a candy store. Regina bought games for her daughter, Joan, and her son, Bobby to keep them amused.
In May 1949, Bobby 9 (age 6) and Joan (age 11) learned how to play chess from instructions found in a chess set that Joan bought at a candy store below their apartment. Bobby recalled later, "At first it [chess] was just a game like any other, only a little more complicated." (Brady, page 5)
Bobby saw his first chess book a month later. He found a book of old chess games while vacationing at Patchogue, Long Island. He spent most of his vacation time poring over this book.
For over a year Bobby played chess by himself. He was so thoroughly absorbed by chess that his mother became worried. She then tried to use chess as a means to get Bobby into contact with other children. Regina Fischer recalled, "Bobby isn't interested in anybody unless they play chess - and there just aren't many children who like it."
On November 14, 1950 his mother attempted to place an ad in the Brooklyn Eagle, looking for chess opponents for her son. The ad was never published because the editorial staff could not decide under what category to place it. The paper then forwarded the ad to Hermann Helms (1870-1963), their chess columnist from 1893 to 1955. He replied on January 13, 1951, and suggested that Bobby go to a chess exhibition at the Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn Public Library at 8 pm to find someone his own age that plays chess. He could also take a board and play Max Pavey, who was giving a simultaneous exhibition. Helms also suggested that Bobby come by the Brooklyn Chess Club and talk to Henry Spinner, secretary of the Brooklyn Chess Club. It met at the Brooklyn Academy of Music every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evening. (Brady, page 6)
On January 17, 1951 Bobby, age 7, played a game against Senior Master Dr. Max Pavey (1918-1957), who was giving a simultaneous exhibition at the Grand Army Plaza Library in Brooklyn. Bobby lost in 15 minutes (he lost a Queen) and burst into tears when he lost the game. Another player, Edmar Mednis (1937-2002), age 14, also participated in this simul and drew.
Max Pavey's 1950 USCF rating was 2442 (#15 in the US and about #90 in the world). Five years later, Fischer would draw his game against Pavey in the 3rd Lessing J. Rosenwald and lose to him in the 1956 Manhattan Chess Club semi-finals. Pavey was a medical doctor. In 1939, he won the Scottish championship. In 1947, he was the U.S. Lightning Champion. In 1949, he was the New York State champion. He died of leukemia at the age of 39.
Watching in the crowd was Carmine Domenico Nigro (1910-2001), President of the Brooklyn Chess and Checkers Club. After the game, Carmine (rated 2028) went up to Bobby and invited him to join his club. Carmine Nigro (pronounced NIGH-grow) had been an accomplished band leader in the 1940s and was a stockbroker before becoming a teaching golf pro.
At the time, Nigro was teaching chess to his son, Tommy, and offered to tutor Bobby Fischer as well. Tommy was uninterested in chess, and Carmine increased Tommy's allowance if Tommy agreed to take a lesson in chess. Bobby couldn't wait to have a lesson every Saturday and became absorbed in the game.
A few weeks later Bobby joined the Brooklyn Chess Club, headed by Carmine Nigro. Bobby showed up and played chess at the Brooklyn Chess Club almost every Friday night. Bobby later started playing chess at Nigro's house on the weekends and often went with him to play chess at Washington Square Park in Manhattan (Greenwich Village), usually on Sundays. Carmine Nigro was Bobby Fischer's only chess instructor.
Regina was worried about her son's obsession with chess and took him to the Children's Psychiatric Division of the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. Bobby was seen by Dr. Harold Kline who told Regina that there were worse preoccupations, and not to worry about it.
In 1952 Bobby played in his first chess tournament at the Nigro home, winning his match.
Fischer's mother wrote to Paul Nemenyi that the family was too poor to even afford to patch Bobby's torn shoes. Paul Nemenyi may have been Bobby Fischer's real father. He died in 1952 of a heart attack in Washington, DC at the age of 56. He had been paying child support to Regina Fischer until his death.
Bobby Fischer's talent in chess probably helped him obtain a scholarship at Community-Woodward, a private school, when he was in the fourth grade. (Brady, page 7).
Carmine Nigro formed an unofficial chess team with Bobby Fischer, Tommy Nigro, and two other boys. They played a match against another team of kids coached by Dr. Harold Sussman, a chess master in Brooklyn. The teams played two matches. Nigro's team won the first match with a 5-3 score. Bobby drew the first game and won the second game against Raymond Sussman. The score of the 2nd match has been forgotten. (Brady, page 7-8)
By 1952, Fischer was a fairly good player. One chess master said of him: "I was impressed with his intuitive sense of the game and his swift thinking. His enthusiasm never flagged and he showed unusual concentration and willpower. He had chess fever early! His main tactic was to challenge me, which showed his strong will and ego view even then (I was rated among the top twenty players in the U.S. at the time). Although amused by the boy's tenacity, I did play him from time to time and while his talent was obvious, I did not realize that I was playing against a future world champion." (Brady, page 8)
So who was this unidentified master? As of December 31, 1950, the top twenty players were Fine, Reshevsky, Dake, Horowitz, Kashdan, Evans, Seidman, Pavey, Shainswit, Denker, Pinkus, Bisguier, Kramer, D. Byrne, Adams, Steiner, R. Byrne, Hesse, DiCamillio, and Hearst.
As of December 31, 1951, the top 20 players were Reshevsky, Dake, Denker, Evans, Fine, Horowitz, Pavey, Bisguer, D. Byrne, R. Byrne, Kashdan, Kevitz, Kramer, Seidman, Shainswit, Steiner, Pinkus, Adams, Hesse, and DiCamillio.
Bobby also spent time playing against his grandfather's cousin, Jacob Schonberg, who also lived in Brooklyn. When Jacob's health was failing, Regina Fischer took care of him almost every day. She brought along Bobby to play chess with the older gentleman. Another person who played chess in the family was Bobby's great uncle, Jack Wender's brother, who was a strong tournament player in Switzerland (Brady, page 8).
In 1952, Regina had trouble controlling Bobby and his chess mania. She once called Dr. Ariel Mengarini, a chess master and psychiatrist, and asked him what he could suggest to curb's Bobby obsession with chess. He recalled later, "I told her I could think of a lot worse things than chess that a person could devote himself to and that she should let him find his own way." (Brady, page 8) In 1957, Mengarini played and drew Bobby Fischer in the New Jersey Open.
In 1953 Bobby was playing at the Brooklyn Central YMCA.
In February 1953, Bobby played in his first organized tournament, the Brooklyn Chess Club championship, and took 5th place. If this was the Napier Memorial tournament, then it was won by Henry Spinner with an 11-0 score.
In 1954 Bobby, age 11, was playing a lot of chess at the Brooklyn Chess Club and Brooklyn YMCA. He was exposed to international chess when Nigro took Fischer to watch the USA-USSR chess match every day at the Hotel Roosevelt in Manhattan. It was held June 16-24, 1954.
In December, 1954 he took 3rd-5th place at the Brooklyn Chess Club championship. It was during this period that Fischer later said "just got good" when describing when his chess improved.
Fischer played a lot of skittles games at the Marshall Chess Club. A man once asked Fischer why he made a certain move and Fischer responded, "Please, this is a chess game. This is brain surgery. Don't ask me that."
In early 1955 Fischer was playing in a Chess Review correspondence tournament (section 54-P prize tournament). He was mentioned as a new postalite in the May, 1955 issue of Chess Review in the Class B at 1200 section. He had an 1198 postal rating in the August, 1955 list of Chess Review and a 1082 postal rating in the March, 1956 issue of Chess Review. He remained at 1082 in the August, 1956 issue if Chess Review. He lost his only known postal game in 12 moves (A. Wayne Conger (1418 postal)-Fischer, corr. 1955). Donald Reithel recalls that he played Fischer in a correspondence game in 1955. Fischer wrote to Reithel that he was a Brooklyn Dodger fan. Fischer did not finish the correspondence game with Reithel because he was starting to play in over-the-board tournaments. He may have also played in 54-C section (class tournament). There is a Fischer in 54-C, tourney 41, in which he forfeits (Chess Review, April 1956, page 120).
Donald Reithel said, "In 1955 I played Bobby in postal chess - a prize tourney in Chess Review. I remember him as a typical American kid: Brooklyn Dodger fan, somewhat opinionated about school and somewhat desirous to exchange ideas and thoughts. He also liked listening to the radio and religiously was reading and studying the Bible." (Donaldsom, A Legend on the Road, page 12)
On May 21-23 (Memorial Day weekend), 1955, Fischer played in his first US Chess Federation tournament. He scored 2.5 points (out of 6) in the U.S.Amateur Championship in Lake Mohegan, New York (played at the Mohegan Country Club). His post-tournament provisional USCF rating was 1826. Carmine Nigro took him to the event. Fischer, age 12, only wanted to watch, but was persuaded to play by Nigro. The only known Fischer game from this event was Humphrey-Fischer in round 6. Fischer drew that game. Fischer won 2, drew 1, and lost 3. He tied for 33rd place. The event was won by Clinton L. Parmalee of New Jersey and organized by Kenneth Harkness. There were 75 entrants. The event was open to anyone except rated masters (masters were anyone rated 2300 or over). The event was covered in the June 5, 1955 issue of CHESS LIFE.
In June, 1955 Bobby scored 4.5-3.5 in a Washington Square Park (Greenwich Village) 8 round Swiss tournament with 32 players. He tied for 15th place.
He joined the Manhattan chess club on West 64th Street in June, 1955 and soon won the class C championship and the class B championship. At age 12, he was the youngest member of the Manhattan Chess Club.
Often it would reach midnight and Bobby Fischer was still playing chess at the Manhattan Chess Club. His mother would have to take the subway or use the old, unreliable car to drive from Brooklyn to Manhattan to get Bobby. She once said, "For four years I tried everything I knew to discourage him, but it was hopeless." She was certain he would be world chess champion one day. She said, "The sooner the better. Then he can get down to some real work." (Brady, page 9). Mrs. Fischer also said that the Manhattan Chess Club was his favorite hangout. She was interviewed by the New Yorker magazine and said, "Sometimes I have to go over there at midnight and haul him out of the place."
Sometimes Fischer would read chess books 12 to 14 hours a day and would memorize numerous chess games.
On July 3, 1955, Regina Fischer sent a postcard to Alexander Liepnieks (1910-1973) and asked if he could make any arrangements for Bobby Fischer to play in the US Junior Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lipenicks was the Nebraska State Champion at the time and organizer for the US Junior Championship.
In July of 1955, Fischer (age 12) and Charles Kalme (1939-2002) took a train from Philadelphia to Lincoln, Nebraska to play in the 10th annual US Junior Championship, organized by Alexander Liepenieks. The event was held July 15-24, 1955. Fischer won 2 games, drew 6 games, and lost 2 games at the U.S. Junior Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska (held at the local YMCA). Fischer (rated 1830) took 20th place out of 25. Kalme (rated 2186) won the event at age 15. Fischer stayed with the Liepnieks family. Fischer's USCF rating was 1625 after this event.
In round 1 of the US Junior Championship, Fischer lost to Kenneth Warner (1550) of Bakersfield, California. In round 2 he drew with William Whisler (unrated) of Concord, California. In round 3 he beat Jimmy Thomason (1600) of Fort Worth, Texas. In round 4 he drew with David Ames (unrated) of Quincy, Massachusetts. In round 5 he drew with Kenneth Stone (1600) of Los Angeles. In round 6 he drew with John Briska (unrated) of Albany, New York. In round 7 he lost to Viktors Pupols (2027) of Tacoma, Washington on time. In round 8, he drew with Robert Blair (1650) of Midwest City, Oklahoma. In round 9 he drew with John Winkelman (1650) of Lincoln, Nebraska. In round 10 he beat Franklin Saksena (1600) of Ft. Worth, Texas. His total score was 5-5.
During the event, Fischer wore a large military-style dog tag around his neck. His mother had given it to him that had his name, address, and phone number on it. When Fischer was losing, he would twist the dog tag nervously.
Fischer won a trophy for best player 12 or under (he was the only 12 year old in it and the youngest player in the event). His name first appeared in CHESS LIFE, Aug 5, 1955 in an article about the US Junior Championship.
On July 17, 1955, he took 3rd place in the U.S. Junior Rapid Transit Championship preliminaries, behind Robert Cross and Ronald Gross. Every move was 10 seconds a move with a warning buzzer at 8 seconds and a bell at 10 seconds.
In late autumn of 1955, Bobby placed 15th among 60 players who entered the Washington Square Park tournament in Greenwich Village.
On November 26, 1955, Fischer, age 12, gave his first simultaneous exhibition He played 12 members of the Youth Group (age 7 to 12) of the Yorktown, Chess Club (Yorktown Heights, New York) youth at the Manhattan Chess Club. He won all 12 games, eliminating the first player in 50 minutes and the last player in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Fischer had White in all his games. Most of the games went 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5. He received a watch from the Manhattan Chess Club and a check from the Yorktown Chess Club. Fischer was mentioned in the December 20, 1955 issue of Chess Life (Chess Life in New York by Allen Kaufman) for his simul exhibition. The January 1956 issue of Chess Review had him on the cover ("Small Time Big time) with another picture of him playing chess in the article. His opponents were Stuart Siepser, Peter Foley, Walter Nitz, Billy David, Henry Brooks, Jimmy Rice, Marc Budwig, Leonard Bergstein, Evanna Nelson, Linda Villator, Eric Mynttinen, and Michael Foley. His exhibition was also covered by the New York Times.
At the end of the year, Fischer two USCF ratings, 1826 and 1625, were averaged. So at the end of 1955, Bobby Fischer's USCF rating was published at 1726.
It was around this period, when Fischer started to get real good. He is quoted as saying, "When I was eleven, I just got good." (Brady, page 1).
The January 1956 issue of Chess Review had Fischer on the cover giving a simul at the Manhattan Chess Club against the Yorktown Chess Club youth group.
In January 1956, Bobby won the class B prize of the first Greater New York City Open (January 21-26, 1956). It was held at the Churchill Chess and Bridge Club in Manhattan. The event was won by Bill Lombardy on tie-breaks over Dr, Ariel Mengarini. Fischer won 5 games and lost 2 games. There were 52 players in this event. Fischer tied for 5th-7th (shared with Anthony Saidy). The event was listed in the Feb, 1956 issue of Chess Review. His USCF rating for the event was 2157.
Fischer was a member of the West Orange, New Jersey Log Cabin Chess Club. The club was founded and run by Forry Laucks (1897-1965). In 1956, Bobby's first chess teacher, Carmine Nigro, moved to Florida and lost regular contact with Fischer.
In February 1956, Bobby traveled with the Log Cabin Chess Club to Cuba and even gave a simultaneous exhibition at the Capablanca Chess Club (winning 10 and drawing 2). His mother accompanied him and served as photographer for Chess Review. The Log Cabin Chess Club and Fischer also visited Philadelphia; St. Petersburg, Florida; Hollywood, Florida; Miami, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Clinton, NC for simultaneous exhibitions. Norman Whitaker played board 1 for the Log Cabin Chess Club and Fischer played board 2. Fischer won 5, lost 1, and drew 1 during this exhibition match as board 2. The event was covered in the April, 1956 issue of Chess Review. It included a picture of Fischer playing Mr. Weeks, a retired engraver for the U.S. Treasury, in St. Petersburg. The photo was taken by Regina Fischer. Another photo shows Fischer playing at the Capablanca Chess Club in Havana. A third photo shows Fischer playing in Hollywood, Florida.
In March 1956, he gave a simul at the Jersey YMCA and won 19 out of the 21 opponents.
In April he won the class A championship at the Manhattan Chess Club. He won 7, drew 1, and lost 2.
He also was the top scorer in the Metropolitan League A team with 4 wins and 1 draw. At the end of April, his USCF rating was 2168.
In May of 1956, he played in the U.S. Amateur Championship in Asbury Park, New Jersey (held on May 25-27, 1956), winning 3 games, drawing 2, and losing 1 game. At 13, he was the youngest player in the 88-player event (won by Hudson, Cotter, and Lyman). He tied for 21st place. His USCF rating after this event was 2003.
In round 1 of the 1956 US Amateur Championship, Fischer drew with Michael Tilles. In round 2 he beat J. Bacardi. In round 3 he drew with Norman Hurttlen. In round 4 he beat S. Klaroff. In round 5 he lost to Edmund Nash. In round 6 he beat R. Riggler.
In June 1956, he joined the Hawthorne Chess Club, which met at the home of John (Jack) W. Collins (1952 New York State champion) twice a week in Flatbush. Fischer's chess instructor, Carmine Nigro, moved to Miami to become a professional golf instructor. Fischer took advantage of Collins' extensive chess library and read almost every chess book and magazine he had.
On June 13, 1956, Bobby Fischer appeared with Arlene Francis on the "Home Show" on NBC.
In July 1956, he took first place at the 11th Annual U.S. Junior Championship (July 1-7) in Philadelphia with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss. The event was held at the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club with Bill Ruth as tournament director, assisted by D. A. Gianguilio. Fischer's USCF rating after this event was 2321, making him a master at age 13 years, 3 months, 29 days and ranked #33 in the nation. The rating was not published until August of 1956. There were 28 participants.
His opponents were Arthur Feuerstein (2150), Carl Grossguth (2022), William Whisler (1882), Sydney Geller (2150), George Baylor (2014), Charles Henin (2265), Charles Weldon (1927), Steven Friedman, Kenneth Blake (1877), and David Kerman (1927). Fischer drew with Feurestein, lost to Henin, and won the rest. Fischer won his last game versus David Kerman on an adjudication which took more than two hours of analysis by a panel of three referees. (Chess Review, August, 1956, page 227). Feurestein and Henin took 2nd-3rd. Geller took 4th. Baylor and Levine took 5th-6th. The crosstable of the event appeared in the July 20 issue of Chess Life, page 3.
At 13 years and 4 months, Fischer was the youngest player to win the U.S. Junior Championship. He won a typewriter for his efforts.
Fischer took 2nd place in the blitz championship with a 4-1 score (won by Arthur Feuerstein with 4.5-0.5 score). William Lombardy took 3rd.
A few weeks later (July 17-28, 1956) he played in the 57th U.S. Open in Oklahoma City (102 players), winning 5 games, drawing 7 games, losing none, and tied for 4th-8th place (won by Bisguier and Sherwin). Fischer set some kind of record by going undefeated through all 12 rounds of a USCF Open at the age of 13 (Chess Review, September, 1956, page 260). His USCF rating was 2349 after this event, #25 in the nation. His game with Dr. Peter Lapiken was the first to appear in a chess magazine. It appeared in the August 5, 1956 issue of Chess Life and the September issue of Chess Review. During this event, he was interviewed on television for the first time.
In the US Open, he defeated A. M. Swank in the first round (the oldest player vs the youngest player), drew with Henry Gross (2181), drew with Fred Tears (2123), beat Dr. Peter Lapiken (2173), drew Brian Owens (1800), drew Anthony Santasiere (2236), drew Ken Smith (2193), drew W. E. Stevens (1824), beat Dale Ruth (1754), beat Orest Popovych (2055), beat Stephen Popel (2000), and drew Jerry Donovan (2175).
Fischer's USCF rating was published in August 1957 as 2349. He was 13 years, 5 months old, the youngest US master ever. The record stood until July, 1977, when Joel Benjamin became a master at 13 years, 3 months.
In September, 1956, he tied for 8th-12th place at the first Canadian Open (August 25-September 2) in Montreal (88 players). The event was won by Evans and Lombardy. His score was 7-3.
After the Canadian Open, he asked for a ride home from Larry Evans. Evans said, "He asked if I would drive him back to New York. I had no inkling that my passenger would become the most famous and phenomenal player in the history of chess. On that long drive home he barely glanced at the scenery. All he wanted to do was talk about chess, chess, and more chess. While my eyes were glued to the road he plied me with technical questions and we discussed complicated variations blindfold, calling out the moves without the sight of the board. His total dedication and relentless quest for excellence were apparent even then." (Brady, p. 16)
In October, 1956, he was invited to play in the Rosenwald tournament, limited to the 12 best players in the country. In October he took 8th-9th place (with Abe Turner) in the 3rd Lessing J. Rosenwald Trophy Tournament in New York. His score was 4.5-6.5. The event was won by Reshevsky. His win against Donald Byrne in round 8 won the first brilliancy prize and has been called the game of the century (named by Hans Kmoch, Manhattan Chess Club Director). The tournament was held at both the Manhattan Chess Club on Central Park South and the Marshall Chess Club. His USCF rating after the event was 2321.
A few weeks later, Fischer gave a simul at the Jamaica Chess Club in Long Island. He won 11 and drew one.
Fischer usually played blitz or skittles chess for twenty cents a game. One day, at the Marshall Chess Club, he was playing for 20 cents a game when Hans Kmoch had an appointment with the cellist Gregor Piatagorsky. Kmoch wanted Fischer to show Piatagorsky his brilliant win over Donald Byrne. Fischer was interrupted and lost the skittle game to Ron Gross. Fischer angrily flipped two dimes to Gross while Kmoch tried to get Fischer to show his famous "Game of the Century." Fischer got mad and replied, "I don't care. I don't have to show anybody my games just because he is a big shot!" Fischer then stormed out of the club.
In November (Thanksgiving Day weekend), 1956, he tied for 2nd-5th place in the Eastern States Open in Washington, D.C. The winner was Hans Berliner. His rating after the event was 2298.
In December Bobby won the rapid transit play at the Manhattan Chess Club and took 4th place in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship.
At the end of 1956, Fischer's USCF ratings were averaged for the year and were published at 2231. He appeared on the cover of the December, 1956 issue of Chess Review, titled Game of the Century.
In 1957 Regina wrote directly to Nikita Khrushchev, requesting an invitation for Bobby to participate in the World Youth and Student Festival. Khrushchev replied that he could play in the event, but the invitation came too late.
Regina also wrote to Soviet Grandmaster Alexander Kotov, "I would like you to publish a collection of my son's games. Bobby would like to have an account in a Russian bank." (Brady, p.23)
In February, 1957, he took 6th-14th in the Log Cabin Open. His USCF rating after the event was 2222.
In March 1957, Bobby played two games against former world champion Max Euwe in New York, drawing one and losing one.
In April he won the New York Metropolitan Chess League.
In the May 5, 1957, issue of Chess Life, he was rated 2231.
In July he tied for 6th place at the New Western Open in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His USCF rating at the end of the tournament was 2103.
In July, 1957, the U.S. Chess Federation received an official invitation for Bobby Fischer to visit the Soviet Union.
A few days later he played in the U.S. Junior Championship in San Francisco and took first place and another typewriter. The event was held at the Spreckels Dairy Company. He also won the U.S. Junior Speed Championship. His prize for that was a copy of the 1956 Candidates Tournament book by Euwe and Muhring. His USCF rating at the end of the US Junior Championship was 2298.
Fischer left San Francisco and headed for Long Beach, California with some friends. Bill Addison drove Fischer, Gil Ramirez, and William Rebold to Cleveland for the US Open in Guthrie McClain's old car. Along the way, Fischer and Ramirez got in a fight with each other. Ramirez was left with bite marks, which can be seen to this day.
In August he tied for 1st-2nd with Arthur Bisguier at the 58th U.S. Open in Cleveland and won $750. His rating after the event was 2264. Bisguier said, "Who could have seen in the early stages, by not winning against Fischer, I created a Frankenstein!" (Brady, p. 19)
In August-September he won the New Jersey Open championship with 8 wins and 1 draw, no losses. His USCF rating after the event was 2605.
In September, 1957, he was a student at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. Barry Munitz, President of the Erasmus High School Chess Club, tried to get Bobby to join the club. Bobby wasn't interested. One of his teachers said, "He never seems to be listening in class. He must always be thinking about chess." (Brady, p. 21)
Janice Wolfson Epstein was Fischer's geometry teacher and remembered him as a poor student who was also antisocial. Fischer was good in Spanish class. Bobby made sketches of monsters, elaborate doodles, and wrote lyrics. In one interview, Fischer said he had an interest in astronomy, prehistoric animals, and hypnotism. He was also an avid reader of comic books, especially horror types. Frank Brady talked to someone in the Grade Advisor's Office at Erasmus Hall while Bobby was a student there. This person said, "His I.Q. was in the 180s, give or take a point or two. He was definitely a high genius, but with no interest or capacity for schoolwork. (Brady, p.22)
In September, 1957, the Pepsi-Cola Company sponsored a match with 19 year-old Philippine Junior Champion, Rodolfo Tan Cardoso (1937- ) and Fischer. Fischer won 6-2 and $325. Cardoso was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1957, making him the first Asian IM.
In November-December he took 6th in the North Central Open in Milwaukee. His USCF rating after the event was 2552.
Fischer then played a match with Dr. Daniel J. Benninson, a strong Argentine player. He was a scientist with the Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation for the United Nations. The match was played at the Marshall Chess Club, and Fischer won. Benninson later became head of Argentina's Atomic Energy Commission.
Just before the Centennial U.S. championship in 1957/58, Bisguier said: "Bobby Fischer should finish slightly over the center mark in this tournament. He is quite possibly the most gifted of all players in the tournament; still he has had no experience in tournaments of such consistently even strength." (Brady, p. 20)
On January 10, 1958 Bobby Fischer at age 14 years and 9 months won the 1957/58 U.S. Championship and Zonal with 8 wins, 5 draws and no losses. The event was played at the Manhattan Chess Club and Marshall Chess Club. His USCF rating after the event was 2722. His USCF rating average for 1957 was 2626, and #2 in the USCF (behind Samuel Reshevsky at 2713). Players over 2600 were considered American Grandmasters, so Reshevsky and Fischer were the only grandmasters with the USCF. He now qualified for the 1958 Interzonal in Portoroz. Since this was a Zonal event, he qualified for the Interzonal and was given the International Master title by FIDE at the age of 14 years, 10 months. Except for Santa Monica 1966, Bobby Fischer would win every U.S. tournament he played in.
A reporter asked Bobby whether he now considered himself the best chess player in the United States. Fischer responded, "No. One tournament doesn't mean that much. Maybe Reshevsky is better!" (Brady, p. 21).
After winning the US Championship, the famed resort Grossinger's in the Catskill Mountains invited Fischer for a 10-day all-expenses-paid stay at the resort. It was here that he learned to ski.
The American Chess Foundation mailed a check for $250 to Fischer in recognition for his chess achievements.
The New York Times wrote an essay on Fischer, claiming that all Fischer does and all Fischer knows is chess, and that he kept a chess set by his bedside. An article by Aben Rudy in the Dec 5, 1957 issue of Chess Life said the Fischer was proficient at tennis and table-tennis. Fischer was also an avid hockey fan and sees as many "Ranger" games as his crowded schedule will allow. The article also mentioned that Fischer was a quite promising ventriloquist.
Around this time, Bobby spent his time preparing a book of his games. He dictated his annotations into a tape recorder and his mother transcribed them. When the book was finished, he first took it to the World Publishing Company to see if they would publish it. The company eventually declined the manuscript, but Joan Fischer, who accompanied Bobby when he went there, met Russell Targ, the son of the chief editor of the company (William Targ, 1907-1999). Russell and Joan later married. In 1963, the company was sold to Times Mirror. William Targ later published Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather.
In February, 1958 he played a 30 board simul at the Marshall Chess Club, winning 29 and drawing one. He was seeded in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship, but withdrew the day before it was to start.
In early 1958, Mrs. Fischer wrote to the Yugoslav Chess Federation as asked them to find room and board for Bobby. She wrote that Bobby would not give any simultaneous exhibitions or interviews, and did not like journalists who asked non-chess questions. She also said that Bobby did not smoke, drink, or date girls. She said that Bobby did not know how to dance but liked to swim, play tennis, ski, and skate.
On March 26, 1958 he was interviewed by Garry Moore for a special television broadcast geared for teenagers (I've Got a Teenage Secret). He talked about his winning the US championship and being awarded the IM title.
In April, 1958, he gave interviews to Time, New York Post, New York Times and the Voice of America.
In May, 1958 Bobby, age 15, appeared on the television show I'VE GOT A SECRET and stumped the panel, which included Dick Clark (his secret was that he was U.S. chess champion). The made-up newspaper headline for Bobby was "Teen-Ager's Strategy Defeats all Newcomers." Dick Clark asked if what he did made people happy. Fischer responded, "It made me happy." Garry Moore asked him how long he had been playing chess. Fischer responded that he had been playing since he was six, but that he had not been playing seriously until age 9.
For stumping the panel on I'VE GOT A SECRET, Sabena Airlines provided two complimentary round trip airline tickets for Bobby and his sister, Joan, already a registered nurse at age 20, to travel to Europe. At the end of the show, Fischer almost tripped and fell as he was leaving the stage.
In June, 1958 he was invited to Moscow and he spent almost all his time at the Moscow Central Chess Club. He played a few speed games of chess with Tigran Petrosian, Yeggeny Vasiukov, and Alexander Nikitin.
In July, 1959, he played a match with Dragoljub Janosevic. On July 20-26, he played a match with and Milan Matulovic at the Slavia chess club in Belgrade.
In August/September 1958, he took 5th-6th at the Portoroz Interzonal (won by Tal) in Yugoslavia and gained the Grandmaster title after winning 6 games, drawing 12, and losing 2 games. At the same time he became the world's youngest World Championship Candidate and Grandmaster for the world championship at age 15 years, 6 months. Pal Benko was in the Interzonal as a result of his 1957 victory at the Dublin Zonal. Sherwin was in the Interzonal after taking 3rd place in the U.S. championship. Reshevsky had qualified for taking 2nd place, but he refused to play in the Interzonal. Cardoso of the Philippines was in the Interzonal. He wanted revenge after he lost to Fischer during the Pepsi-Cola sponsored match. Cardoso told everyone that he was going to beat Fischer. When they sat down at the board, Cardoso said, "Would you like to resign now and save time?" Fischer laughed and beat him. (Brady, p. 24)
During the Portoroz Interzonal, Fischer would analyze in his hotel room until late at night, and then sleep until noon. He rarely left his room except to play chess.
In one game, Fischer took an early draw with Yuri Averbakh. When Larry Evans asked why Bobby agreed to a premature draw, Fischer said, "I was afraid of losing to a Russian grandmaster and he was afraid of losing to a kid." (Evans On Chess, July 22, 1994)
By qualifying for the Candidates (Challengers) matches, Fischer, Benko, and Olafsson automatically became Grandmasters.
In 1958, with the help of John W. Collins, Bobby wrote "Bobby Fischer's Games of Chess." It was published by Simon and Schuster in 1959. It included 34 of his games, including the "game of the century" D. Byrne vs. Fischer.
In late 1958, Fischer refused to play in the Chess Olympiad unless he, rather than Sam Reshevsky, plays first board for the USA.
Around this time, Fischer changed his dress habits from sweaters and sneakers to suit and tie. He told Ralph Ginzburg, "I used to dress badly until I was about 16. But people just didn't seem to have enough respect for me, you know. And I didn't like that, so I decided I'd have to show them they weren't any better than me, you know? They were sort of priding themselves. They would say he beat us at chess, but he's still just an uncouth kid. So I decided to dress up."
In January 1959, Bobby Fischer again won the U.S. Championship with 6 wins and 5 draws. His USCF rating was 2665.
He attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn (Flatbush and Church) with Barbara (later changed to Barbra) Streisand and they were good friends. Bobby later dropped out of school to become a professional chess player. Fischer's academic records indicated an I.Q. of 180 with an incredibly retentive memory. Erasmus High School is the second oldest secondary school in the United States, established in 1787. Walter Browne also attended Erasmus High.
After Fischer's U.S. Championship win, the student council at Erasmus Hall had voted him a gold medal for his accomplishments. Fischer may have dropped out of school when he turned 16 on March 9, 1959. He said he hated school except for Spanish and geometry.
In a 1961 interview with Ralph Ginzburg, he said, "My two and a half years in Erasmus High I wasted. I didn't like the whole thing. You have to mix with all those stupid kids. The teachers are even stupider than the kids. They talk down to the kids. Half of them are crazy. If they'd have let me, I would have quit before I was 16."
Barbra (Barbara) Streisand, who attended Erasmus Hall at the same time as Fischer, had a crush on Bobby. Every day they had lunch together. Barbra said that Fischer was "always alone and very peculiar. But I found him very sexy." (Christopher Andersen, Barbra The Way She Is, page 41)
Around this time, Mrs. Fischer and Bobby visited Frank Brady, who was working with the U.S. Chess Federation. She was looking for any financial aid that the USCF could give. Down the hall from the USCF office was the office of Dr. Albrecht Buschke, who specialized in chess literature. He offered Bobby to choose a number of chess books free of charge. It took Bobby over a year to make his selection. (Brady, p. 27)
In Yugoslavia, a chess club was named after Fischer.
In April 1959 he took 3rd-4th at the annual international tournament in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The expenses of this trip were handled by the sponsoring organization. It was Bobby's first trip to South America.
From there, he went to Santiago, Chile where he placed 4th-7th. Fischer withdrew from the tournament for a short while, stating that he had gone there with the understanding that there was $2,000 in cash prizes. It turned out that there was $1,000 in cash prizes and $1,000 in trophies. He was eventually persuaded to re-enter.
In May, 1959 he took 3rd-4th at Zurich, Switzerland behind Tal and Gligoric, with 8 wins, 5 draws, and 2 losses. Max Euwe, in an interview in Swiss Schachzeitung, said of Fischer, "His chess technique is nearly a miracle. In their youth, only a few players could handle the endgame so precisely. Only two such players are known to me, Smyslov and Capablanca." (Brady, p. 29)
During the summer of 1959, Mrs. Fischer was trying to sell Bobby Fischer chess wallets. She had them made in Argentina and was advertising them in The New York Times. It had Bobby's profile and signature stamped in gold. She wanted to sell them at the U.S. Open in Omaha that summer, but Bobby was against it.
Mrs. Fischer also wrote a letter to the New York Herald Tribune appealing to people for funds to help finance U.S. participation in overseas tournaments. She asked for contributions to be sent to the USCF. About $3,000 was received, including a $2,000 check from Sports Illustrated. Bobby Fischer refused any of this money.
The manufacturers of Fischer pianos offered Bobby $500 to pose for one photo of him standing next to one of their pianos with a chess set on top. Fischer turned this offer down. He said, "It was just a cheap gimmick." (Brady, p. 32).
In September-October, 1959, he took 5th-6th at the Bled/Zagrev/Belgrade Candidates tournament, won by Mikhail Tal, age 22. Tal received $1,000 for 1st place. Fischer received $200 for two months work. Tal beat Fischer in all 4 games that they played.
At the end of 1959, Fischer's USCF rating was 2636, behind Reshevsky's 2693 rating.
On December 16, 1959, just before the 1959-60 US Championship, Fischer decided not to play at the last minute. He had demanded a public drawing of the pairings. Anthony Saidy was substituted for Fischer. On December 19, after it was agreed that the drawing would be made public in the future, Fischer decided to defend his title.
Fischer, for the first time, showed up in a suit. He wore a white shirt and a white tie. He had been encouraged by Pal Benko to dress well.
In December-January 1960, Fischer again won the U.S. Championship with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. His rating was 2636.
In April, 1960 he tied for 1st-2nd with Boris Spassky at Mar del Plata, Argentina.
In August, 1960, he did poorly in Buenos Aires. He scored 8.5-10.5. He only won 3 games in 19 rounds. It was the worst result of his career. When asked to explain his results, he said the lighting was poor.
He took first place at Reykjavik, Iceland in October.
In November, 1960, he played board 1 for the United States at the Chess Olympiad in Leipzig, East Germany, winning 10 games, drawing 6, and losing 2. The USA took 2nd, behind the Soviet Union. He won the silver medal for individual result. The USA won a silver medal for team result. His rating was 2641.
In an interview in Leipzig, Fischer was asked when he would be the world champion. Fischer replied, "Perhaps in 1963. Why not." (Brady, p. 40)
During the Leipzig Olympiad, Fischer played Tal a blitz match and lost 1-4.
Against his game with Najdorf, Bobby had an easily won game, but made a mistake and Najdorf was able to draw. Bobby then swept the pieces off the table in disgust. Najdorf then told Fischer, "You'll never play in South America again." This account appeared in the Soviet chess press by Yugoslav journalist Dmitrije Bjelica.
In January 1961, Bobby again won the U.S. Championship with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. His prize was $1,000 and he qualified for the next Interzonal. His rating was 2660.
In 1961, he wrote his famous "Bust to the King's Gambit," which appeared in the first issue of The American Chess Quarterly.
On March 9, 1961, Fischer turned 18. He was living alone in a Brooklyn flat. His rent, food, and clothing bills (he was now dressing up in suit and tie) were being paid by his mother. He lived in an area of Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant district) where the homicide and general crime rate was among the highest in the city of New York. He lived in a four-room apartment with over 200 chess books, thousands of chess magazines, and an inlaid chess table he had made for him in Switzerland.
In early 1961 he told journalist Robert Cantwell (1908-1978), "I am going to win the World Championship. Anyway, Tal hasn't been playing so good and he may not even be World Champion by the time the next match is held." To a reporter for Newsweek, he said, "Give me two years. I will win it." (Brady, p. 41)
In June, 1961, the American Chess Foundation announced plans for a match between Fischer and Reshevsky. It was to consist of 16 games.
In July he started a match with Sam Reshevsky and tied it with 2 wins, 7 draws, and 2 losses before negotiations broke down to continue the match over the playing schedule and time of the start of each game. The games were played in New York and Los Angeles.
Bobby forfeited the match because the 12th game of the series was set at 11 a.m., and Bobby was not told of this time change. The game had been scheduled for play at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13 at 1:30 pm. At 10 am that morning, he received a call that the playing time had been moved up to 11 am to accommodate the wishes of the principal patron, Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky. She wanted the game to be over in time for her to attend a concert to be given that night by her husband, Gregor Piatigorsky. Bobby refused to play at 11 a.m. and cited a clause in his playing contract which stated that playing time had to be acceptable to both parties.
On August 25, 1961, Bobby gave a controversial 5 hour interview with Ralph Ginzburg for Harpers magazine. It appeared in January, 1962.
In that interview, he said, "They're all weak, all women. They're stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know. They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man. There isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds to all and still beat."
He was asked if he considered himself the greatest player that ever lived, even better than Capablanca, Steinitz, or Morphy. He replied, "Well, I don't like to put things like that in print, it sounds so egotistical. But to answer your question, Yes."
Ginzburg noted that quite a few number of Jews were in the upper echelons of chess. Fischer replied, "Yeah, there are too many Jews in chess. They seem to have taken away the class of the game. They don't seem to dress so nicely, you know. That's what I don't like." Fischer admitted he was part Jewish, that his mother was Jewish. In reality, both his mother and his father (either Hans-Gerhadt Fischer or Paul Nemenyi) were Jewish.
In the interview, Fischer said he wanted to learn judo, but the judo schools in New York were too low class for him. He said he used to do weightlifting to keep himself in shape, but gave it up as too boring. He was also interested in palmistry but not astrology. He said his favorite actor was Marlon Brando but didn't watch television because he feared it was giving off radiation. He said he liked Tennessee Williams' pictures.
When asked about religion, Fischer said, "I read a book lately by Nietzsche and he says religion is just to dull the senses of the people. I agree."
Finally, Ginzburg asked him what he was going to do when he becomes world chess champion. Fischer said, "I'll make a tour of the whole world, giving exhibitions. I'll set new standards. I'll write a couple of chess books and start to reorganize the whole game. I'll have my own club. It'll be class. I'll hold big international tournaments in my club with big cash prizes. Then I'll build me a house. I'm going to hire the best architect and have him build it in the shape of a rook. I want to live the rest of my life in a house built exactly like a rook."
In October, 1961, he took 2nd at the Alekhine Memorial in Bled, Yugoslavia, behind Tal. He defeated Tal in the 2nd round. Fischer's rating was 2675.
Of Fischer's performance at Bled, Larry Evans said, "He has shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is a contender for the world title. Fischer has single-handedly broken the Russian iron grip on chess supremacy." Svetozar Gligoric said, "Bobby is going to be world champion." (Brady, p. 49)
After Bled, Fischer was confined for a few days at a hospital in Bosnia, due to an appendicitis attack. However, he did not have any surgery and waited out the pain.
In December, 1961, Fischer was in London. He appeared in the BBC's "Chess Treasure of the Air." Fischer and Leonard Barden played a game against Jonathan Penrose and P. H. Clarke. The game was adjudicated as a draw by Max Euwe.
Bobby Fischer chose not to play in the 1961-62 U.S. Chess Championship. That event was won by Larry Evans.
In 1962 Bobby became involved in the Worldwide Church of God.
In March, 1962, he won the Interzonal in Stockholm with 13 wins, 9 draws, and no losses. This was the first interzonal that a Soviet player did not take first place. Fischer's rating was 2713.
After Stockholm, Gideon Stahlberg and Jostein Westberg issued the first book about him, called Bobby Fischer. It contained a short biographical sketch and 50 selected games. It was published in Stockholm in 1962.
In May 1962, he took 4th place at the Curacao, Dutch West Indies, Candidates tournament, won by Petrosian. He later accused the Russians of cheating in this event and that interview was published in the August 20, 1962 edition of Sports Illustrated under the title "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess." During this tournament, Arthur Bisguier was there as a second to Pal Benko and Fischer. On May 9, Benko came looking for Bisguier in Fischer's room to get some help in analyzing his adjourned game with Petrosian. Fischer told Benko to leave and they both got in a fist fight. The next day Fischer wrote a letter to the organizing committee to fine and/or expel Benko from the tournament. The letter was ignored. After the event, Fischer's USCF rating was 2687.
Bisguier wrote, "Apparently he [Benko] developed this feeling of righteousness after he got off to such a good start [he defeated Tal and Fischer in rounds 1 and 2]. I was willing to give my services to both but Fischer wanted a second all to himself and it was so agreed in advance." (Brady, p. 57)
During the Candidates tournament, Tal was hospitalized. His only visitor was Bobby Fischer. None of the Soviets or any other participant visited Tal while he was in the hospital.
In October 1962, he played Board 1 for the United States at the 15th Chess Olympiad in Varna, Bulgaria and scored 8 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. The USA took 4th place, behind the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Argentina. His USCF rating was 2659 after the event.
In January 1963, Bobby won the U.S. Championship with 6 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss (to Edmar Mednis). His rating was 2664.
He announced he was boycotting FIDE tournaments until the Russians stopped fixing chess.
In July, 1963 he won the Western Open in Bay City, Michigan, winning $750. His USCF rating was 2674.
In September he won the New York State Open with a perfect score of 7 wins, no draws, and no losses. His USCF rating was 2685.
On November 27, 1963, Fischer was to play over 400 opponents at once in an exhibition, but was postponed because of President Kennedy's assassination (Nov 22, 1963) and a fire at the Astor hotel where the event was to have taken place. He was attempting to break Gideon Stahlberg's record of 400 opponents. Stahlberg played 400 opponents in Buenos Aires in 1941, winning 364, 14 draws, and 22 losses. It was only $3 to play and $1 to watch.
On January 2, 1964, Bobby Fischer won the U.S. Championship with a perfect score of 11 wins. First prize was $2,000.
In 1964, he began a nationwide simultaneous exhibition for the rest of the year. His fee was $250 for a 50-board simul and a lecture. Harry Evans, father of Larry Evans, was in charge of putting it together. From February to May, he played in 40 cities. He played 1,882 games, winning 1,719, drawing 102, and losing 61 games.
During the exhibition months, Fischer carried a Bible with him during his travels and read it regularly. (The Chess Correspondent, July, 1964)
On March 9, 1964, he turned 21. His mother sent him a number of chess books from the Soviet Union. He had just completed a 65 board simultaneous exhibition in Washington, DC the day before.
In the first issue of Chessworld, he wrote an article called, "The Ten Greatest Masters in History." The players he included were Paul Morphy, Howard Staunton, William Steinitz, Siegbert Tarrasch, Mikhail Chigorin, Alexander Alekhine, Jose Capablanca, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal, and Samuel Reshevsky.
The first international rating list was published by Arpad Elo in 1964. The top two players were Fischer and Petrosian at 2690. His USCF rating was 2734. He chose not to play in the 1964 Amsterdam Interzonal, missing the world championship cycle. He was still protesting the Soviets and their cheating in events like the Interzonals.
Perhaps in 1964, Bobby Fischer took a physical examination for the military. For some reason, he was rejected.
Fischer refused to play in the 1965 Interzonal in Amsterdam. He told Holiday editor Peter Lyons that "FIDE is a crooked organization, run by the Communists from Moscow. (Brady, p. 81)
From October through December, 1964, Fischer gave chess lectures at the Marshall Chess Club.
In May, 1965, he gave a simultaneous exhibition at the United Nations.
In August 1965, Bobby participated in the 4th Capablanca Memorial in Cuba by playing through a teletype machine at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. He tied for 2nd-4th with 12 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. The United States did not have diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the State Department would not authorize him to travel to Havana. Fischer thus had to play by teletype and the Cuban government paid for the services, over $10,000. Fischer's USCF rating was 2706.
In 1965 Frank Brady published Profile of a Prodigy, a biography of Bobby Fischer.
In late 1965, Fischer spent his time writing Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.
In December 1965, he won the U.S. Chess Championship with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses. His 1st place prize was $2,000. Fischer's USCF rating after the event was 2708. He also qualified for the 1967 Interzonal in Sousse, Tunisia.
In April, 1966, Bobby Fischer was the official adjudicator at the Greater New York Open Championship.
In July 1966, Bobby took 2nd place at the Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica, behind Spassky. Over 1,000 people watched his game with Boris Spassky, the largest audience for a chess game in U.S. history. His USCF rating was 2713.
In November 1966, he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana, scoring 14 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss. His USCF rating was 2748.
In December 1966, he won the U.S. Championship with 8 wins, 3 draws, and no losses. This was his 8th U.S. Championship title. His USCF rating was 2758.
In 1966, Bobby's mother started her medical school degree in the Freidrich Schiller University in East Germany. She completed her medical degree two years later, at the age of 55.
At this time, Bobby was living in a suite at the Tudor Hotel on East 42nd Street, near the United Nations building.
In December, 1966, Fischer started writing a chess column for Boys' Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. He wrote a column until December, 1969.
In April 1967, Fischer took 1st place at Monaco. His USCF rating was 2762. He received an appearance fee of $2,000 and a 5,000 franc first prize. The trophy was presented to him by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.
In the summer of 1967, he went to the Philippines for a series of simultaneous and clock exhibitions.
In August 1967, he won at Skopje, Yugoslavia. His USCF rating was 2741.
In October he participated in the Sousse Interzonal, but withdrew after leading the event with 7 wins and 3 draws. He forfeited his game with the Soviet international master Gipslis because of too many games he had to play in succession as a result of the tournament organizers re-scheduling his games around his religious holidays and Sabbath. Since the organizers would not let him replay the forfeited game, Fischer withdrew. His USCF rating was 2754 after this event.
In the spring of 1968 Bobby moved to Ambrose Avenue in Los Angeles and followed the Worldwide Church of God.
In July he took 1st place at Nathanya, Israel. His USCF rating was 2739.
In July, 1968, he gave a 5 board clock simul in Athens, winning 4 and drawing one game.
In September he took 1st place at Vinkovci, Yugoslavia. His USCF rating was 2745.
In 1969 Bobby finished his book, MY 60 MEMORABLE GAMES. It included 9 draws and 3 losses.
He played Board 1 in a New York Metropolitan League and defeated Anthony Saidy.
In April 1970, he played Board 2 in the USSR vs. REST OF THE WORLD match in Belgrade, beating Petrosian with 2 wins and 2 draws. Fischer asked for and received a $2,500 appearance fee. All the other players were given a $500 honorarium. The prize for the winner of board 1 was an Italian-built Fiat. The prize for the winner of board 2 was a Russian-built Moskvich. The Soviets won 20.5 to 19.5. His USCF rating was 2755.
He then went on to Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia and won the unofficial world 5-minute championship with 17 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss (to Korchnoi). He score 4.5 points more than 2nd place finisher Mikhail Tal. Fischer spent no more than 2 minutes on any game. After the tournament he called off from memory all of the moves from his 22 games, involving over 1,000 moves. In May, 1970, he took 1st at Rovinj/Zagreb. His USCF rating was 2748.
In June, 1970, Fischer flew to Sarajevo to be the guest of Dimitrije Bjelica. They produced a series of 10 television shows, each devoted to a famous chess master.
In August 1970, he took 1st place at Buenos Aires. His USCF rating was 2762.
In September he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 19th Olympiad in Siegen, Switzerland. His USCF rating was 2755.
In November, Pal Benko gave up his spot at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal for $2,000 so that Fischer could play. Bobby won the event with 15 wins, 7 draws, and 1 loss. His USCF rating was 2771. His December 1970 FIDE rating was 2740.
Fischer won the chess Oscar for 1970, 1971, and 1972.
In 1971, Fischer proposed that the world championship match be decided on the first player winning 10 games.
In June 1971, Bobby Fischer defeated Mark Taimanov with 6 wins, no draws, no losses in the Candidates quarterfinals in Vancouver, Canada. Fischer wanted Larry Evans to be his second, but Evans refused when Fischer demanded that Evans abstain from any journalism and for him to leave his wife, Ingred, back home in Nevada. Fischer's USCF rating was 2801. His FIDE rating was 2760.
In July 1971, he defeated Bent Larsen also with a perfect 6-0 score in the Candidates semi-final in Denver, Colorado. His performance rating was 3060. His USCF rating peaked at 2825.
In August Bobby won the Manhattan Chess Club 5-minute blitz with 21 wins and 1 draw.
In September, 1971, Bobby defeated Tigran Petrosian with 5 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss in Buenos Aires for the Candidates finals. He now became challenger for the world championship. His USCF rating was 2824. His FIDE rating was 2785.During the match with Petrosian, someone threw a stink bomb in the playing hall.
In January 1972 Bobby appeared on the Dick Cavett show and talked about chess.
Just before the match with Boris Spassky, he told the Washington Post "I don't believe in psychology. I believe in good moves."
On July 11, 1972 he began his match with Boris Spassky in Reykjavik (Smoky Bay), Iceland for the world championship. On September 1, 1972 Bobby became world champion after winning 7 games, drawing 11 games, and losing 3 games (one on forfeit). Fischer received $160,000 for his efforts and another $40,000 in royalties. President Nixon sent him a telegram congratulating him for his fine efforts. Fischer donated $61,200 of his winnings to the Worldwide Church of God. His USCF rating after the event was 2810. This would be his last USCF rating. His FIDE rating was 2780. This would be his last FIDE rating.
Of interest is that Bobby Fischer once wanted to be a singer. He did sing for Saemund Paisson, the Icelandic policeman assigned to guard him in Reykjavik. When Paisson was asked how Fischer sounded, he said, "Not very beautiful because Bobby was not a very musical voice." (by Harold Schoenberg. New York Times, 1972)
On September 22, 1972, the mayor of New York declared that day as Bobby Fischer day.
In 1972 Frank Brady wrote a new edition of Profile of a Prodigy.
In 1972, Fischer showed up for 15 minutes at the Church's Fried Chicken tournament in San Antonio.
In December, 1972, Bobby Fischer met the press at a luncheon in his honor at the home of his attorney, Stanley Radar, in Beverly Hills. A few producers had already contacted him with a variety of film and television appearances. He had been discussing with Wolper Productions about doing a documentary based on his life. He told the press that he eats sensibly and sleeps 10 hours a night. For relaxation he said he plays racquetball and tennis and takes walks. (Lima News, Jan 2, 1973)
Bobby Fischer's last published USCF rating was 2810. His FIDE rating was 2785.
In 1973, Las Vegas offered Fischer $1 million to play a chess match in Las Vegas.
In 1973 Bobby moved to Los Angeles. His mother Regina sent him her Social Security checks to survive on.
In 1973, Fischer traveled to Tokyo to meet with the Japan Chess Association and met Miss Miyoko Watai, who gave him a tour of Tokyo. They later became very good friends and lived together in 2000.
In September, 1973, Fred Cramer, Vice President (Zone 5) of FIDE, proposed that the world championship match be decided on 10 wins, draws not counting. He also proposed that the champion retains his title if it were a 9-9 tie. This became known as the Cramer proposal, or Annex 43 by FIDE. In September, Bobby Fischer telegrammed the FIDE Congress being held in Helsinki that FIDE adopt the Cramer proposal. The FIDE Congress voted that the match should be based on 6 games, not 10 games.
In November, 1973, Bobby Fischer was the guest of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. He made an appearance at the Philippines International Tournament, won by Bent Larsen. Fischer play
Year Event Result
1955 Brooklyn Chess Club Championship 3rd-5th
1955 US Amateur Championship negative score
1955 US Junior Championship 10-20
1955 US Junior Speed Champhionship 3rd (+3=0-2)
1955 Washington Square Park 15th (60 players) 4.5-3.5
1956 Greater New York City Ch. Tied for 5th with Anthony
Saidy (+5-2). Lombardy won
1956 Log Cabin 50-50
1956 Manhattan CC 'A' Reserve 1
1956 Metropolitan League
1956 US Amateur Championship 12th (+3=2-1)
1956 US Junior Championship 1st (+8=1-1)
1956 US Junior Speed Ch.
1956 US Open Championship 4-8 (+5=7-0)
Bisguier took 1st
1956 Canadian Open Championship, Montreal,
Quebec, August 25-September 2 8-12 (+6=2-2)
1956 Rosenwald Trophy, New York, October 7-24 8-9 (+2=5-4)
1956 Eastern States Open
1957 Manhattan Chess Club semi final (+2=1-2)
1957 Log Cabin Open (+4=0-2)
1957 Log Cabin 50-50 (+3=2)
1957 Metropolitan League (+5)
1957 Euwe Exhibition Match Lost (=1-1)
1957 New Western Open (+5=2-1)
1957 US Junior Ch., San Francisco, July 8-14 1st (+8=1)
1957 US Junior Speed Championship 1st
1957 US Open Championship Fischer was declared winner
1st with Bisguier (+8=4-0)
1957 Benninson Match Won 3.5-1.5
1957 Cardoso Match Won (+5=2-1)
1957 New Jersey State Open 1st (+6=1)
1957 North Central Open 6th (+4=2-1)
1957 US Championship (1957/58) Won (+8=5)
1957 Janosevic Training Match - Yugoslavia Draw (=2)
1958 Matulovic Match Won (2.5-1.5)
1958 Portoroz interzonal 5th (after Tal, Gligoric,
Benko and Petrosian)
1958 US Championship (1958/59) Won (+6=5)
1959 Mar Del Plata 3rd equal (+8=4-2)
after Najdorf and Pachman
1959 Zurich 3rd equal (+8=5-2)
with Keres after Tal and
1959 Candidates tournament, Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade 5th place with Gligoric
after Tal, Keres,
Petrosian and Smyslov
1959 US Championship (1959/60) 1st (+7=4)
1960 Mar del Plata 1-2 (+13=1-1)
with Boris Spassky
1960 Buenos Aires 14th (+3=11-5)
1960 Reykjavik 1st (+3=1)
1960 Olympiad, Leipzig Board 1 (+10=6-2)
1960 One exhibition game against Darga (+1)
1960 US Championship (1960/61) 1st (+7=4)
1961 Rehevsky Match +2=7-2
1961 Bled 2nd place (+8=11) after Tal
1961 BBC Consultation (=1)
1962 Stockholm Interzonal 1st place (+13=9) 2.5 points
ahead of the 2nd prize winners
1962 Larsen Exhibition Match Won (+1)
1962 Candidates, Curacao Fourth place (+8=12-7) after
Petrosian, Keres and Geller
1962 Silwa, USA v Poland Won (+1)
1962 Olympiad, Varna (+8=6-3)
1962 US Championship (1962/63) 1st (+6=4-1)
1963 Western Open at Bay City, Michigan 1st (+7=1)
1963 New York State Open at Poughkeepsie 1st (+7)
1963 US Championship (1963/64) 1st (+11)
1964 Simultaneous Tour
1965 Capablanca memorial tournament in Havana. 2nd (+12=6-3) equal with
Geller and Ivkov half a point
behind the winner Smyslov
1965 US Championship (1965/66) 1st (+8=1-2)
1966 Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 2nd (+7=8-3) half a point
1966 Olympiad, Havana Board 1 (+14=2-1)
1966 US Championship (1966/67) 1st (+8=3)
1967 Monaco 1st (+6=2-1)
1967 Skopje 1st (+12=3-2)
1967 Sousse Interzonal Withdrew. Was on (+7=3)
1968 Natanya, Israel 1st (+10=3)
1968 Vinkovci, Yugoslavia 1st (+9=4)
1969 Metropolitan League (+1)
1970 Rest of the World v.s. USSR match Board 2 (+2=2)
1970 Herceg Novi 5-Minute 1st (+17=4-1)
1970 Rovinj-Zagreb, "Tournament of Peace" 1st (+10=6-1)
1970 Buenos Aires 1st (+13=4)
1970 Olympiad, Siegen Board 1 (+8=4-1)
losing only to Spassky
1970 Andersson Exhibition Match Won (+1)
1970 Palma de Majorca Interzonal 1st (+15=7-1)
by a margin of 3.5 points
1971 Taimanov candidates quarter final match Won (+6)
1971 Larsen semi final candidates match Won (+6)
1971 Petrosian candidates final match Won (+5=3-1)
1972 World Championship Match against Spassky Won (+7=11-3)
One loss was by default
1975 FIDE stripped Bobby Fischer of his title
because he did not defend it.
1992 Unofficial world championship rematch (+10=15-5)
against Boris Spassky
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