Bobby Fischer Biography

| 8 | Chess Players



Robert James Fischer was born in Chicago, Illinois at the Michael Reese Hospital by the banks of Lake Michigan on March 9th, 1943. His father Gerhardth Fischer was born in Berlin, Germany in 1909, he was a biophysicist. His mother was Regina Wender. They separated when Bobby was 2 years old, and Regina had custody of Bobby and his older sister Joan who was then 7 years old. She was a qualified registered Nurse and wanted to take a Master's Degree at New York University in Nursing Education. She decided to move to Brooklyn. It is there that the legend of the world's greatest Chess player begins.

On May 1949, Bobby and his sister Joan learned how to play the game with a Chess set given to them as a present. Both, six and eleven, learned the moves from the instructions that went with the set. Even as a six-year-old, Bobby became increasingly fascinated with Chess and enjoyed enough success in solving its complexities. By age seven, he was so thoroughly absorbed that his mother became worried. "Bobby isn't interested in anybody unless they play Chess and there just aren't many children who like it" she once said.

She also attempted to place an ad in the Brooklyn Eagle inquiring whether there might be other children of Bobby's age who would come and play Chess with him. On January 17, 1951 Bobby played a game against master Max Pavey who was giving a simultaneous exhibition and Bobby lost in 15 minutes. A few weeks later Bobby joined the Brooklyn Chess Club, headed by Mr. Carmine Nigro, President of the Brooklyn Chess Club and for the next few years he rarely missed a Friday evening.

In 1953, Bobby Fischer played his first Chess tournament at the Brooklyn Chess Club Championship when he was ten, he placed fifth. In 1955, Bobby score 4 ½ - 3 ½ in a Washington Square Park Swiss tournament. On May he scored three points in the U.S. Amateur Championship in Lake Mohegan, New York. He joined the Manhattan Chess club in June, 1955 and soon won the class C championship and the class B Championship.

He often was given the opportunity of playing against the Club's finest masters. Reshevsky gave a simultaneous blindfold exhibition in which Bobby competed and he was ecstatic when he defeated the Grandmaster. On July he won 2 games, drew 6 games, and lost 2 games at the U.S. Junior Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska. He took 3rd place in the U.S. Junior Speed Championship.

On March 1956, Bobby traveled with the Log Cabin Chess Club to Cuba and gave a simultaneous exhibition at the Capablanca Chess Club. His U.S.C.F. rating was published at 1726. On April he won the class A Championship at the Manhattan Chess Club. On May he played in the U.S. Amateur Championship in Asbury Park, New Jersey, winning three games, drawing two, and losing one. At thirteen, he was the youngest player in the event.

On July he took first place at the U.S. Junior Championship in Philadelphia with eight wins, one draw, and one loss. His U.S.C.F. rating in the event was 1830. At 13 years and 4 months, he was the youngest player to win the U.S. Junior Championship. A few weeks later he played in the 57th U.S. Open in Oklahoma City, winning 5 games, drawing 7 games and tied for 4th-8th place. On September he tied for 8th place at the Canadian Open in Montreal.

On October he took 8th place in the Rosenwald tournament in New York. His win against Donald Byrne (2530) won the brilliancy prize and has been called the game of the century. On November he tied for 2nd-5th place in the Eastern States Open in Washington, D.C. On December Bobby won the rapid transit play and took 4th place in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship.

On March 1957, Bobby played 2 games against former world champion Max Euwe in New York, drawing one and losing one. On April he won the New York Metropolitan League. In July he tied for sixth place at the New Western Open in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A few days later he played in the U.S. Junior Championship in San Francisco and took first place and another typewriter. He also won the U.S. Junior Speed Championship.

On August Bobby Fischer tied for 1st - 2nd at the 58th U.S. Open in Cleveland and won $750. His official USCF rating put him at 2231, making him the youngest player in the U.S. with a master's rating at that time, at age 14 years and 5 months. On September he won the New Jersey Open Championship. On December he won the North Central Open in Milwaukee. 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.

His USCF rating climbed to 2626. Except for Santa Monica 1966, Bobby Fischer would win every U.S. tournament he played in. In August he took 5th-6th at the Portoroz Interzonal and gained the Grand- master title. At the same time he became the world's youngest Candidate for the world championship at age 15 years, 6 months. On January 1959, Bobby Fischer again won the U.S. Championship with six wins and five draws.

Bobby Fischer 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. On April 1959 he took 3rd-4th at Mar Del Plata, Argentina. On May he took 3rd-4th at Zurich, Switzerland behind Tal and Gligoric, with 8 wins, five draws, and two losses. On September he took 5th-6th at the Bled / Zagrev / Belgrade Candidates tournament, won by Mikhail Tal. Fischer's USCF rating was 2636, behind Reshevsky's 2693 rating.

On January 1960 again, Fischer won the U.S. Championship with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. On April he tied for 1st-2nd with Boris Spassky at Mar Del Plata, Argentina, then took first place at Reykjavik, Iceland in October. On November he played board 1 for the United States at the Chess Olympiad in Leipzig, winning 10 games, drawing 6, and losing 2. His USCF rating was 2641.

On January 1961, Bobby again won the U.S. Championship with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. On July he started a match with Sam Reshevsky and tied it with 2 wins, 7 draws, and 2 losses. "I am going to win the World Championship," he predicted to American journalist Robert Cantwell. On 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.

On May he took fourth place at the Curacao Candidates tournament, won by Petrosian. On October he played board one for the United States at the Chess Olympiad in Varna, Germany and scored 8 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. His USCF rating was 2687. On January 1963, Bobby won the U.S. Championship with six wins, four draws, and one loss (Edmar Mednis). He announced he was boycotting FIDE tournaments until the Russians stopped fixing Chess.

On July Bobby Fischer won the Western Open in Bay City, Michigan. On September he won the New York State Open with a perfect score of 7 wins, no draws, no losses. On November he was to play four hundred opponents at once in an exhibition, but it was postponed because of President Kennedy's assassination. His USCF rating was 2685. On January 1, 1964 Bobby Fischer won the U.S. Championship with a perfect score of 11 wins. He then began a nation- wide simultaneous exhibition for the rest of the year.

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. On August 1965, he 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. On December he won the U.S. Chess Championship with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses. Fischer's USCF rating climbed to 2734.

On July 1966, Bobby took 2nd place at the Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica, behind Spassky. In November he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana, scoring 14 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. In December he won the U.S. Championship with 8 wins, 3 draws, and no losses. This was his 8th U.S. Championship title. On April 1967, Bobby took 1st place at Monaco. In August he won at Skopje, Yugoslavia.

In October Bobby Fischer participated in the Sousse Interzonal, but withdrew after leading the event with 7 wins and 3 draws. His USCF rating was 2762. On July 1968 he took first place at Netanya, Israel. In September he took first place at Vinkovci, Yugoslavia. In 1969 Bobby finished his book, "My 60 Memorable Games." He played Board 1 in a New York Metropolitan League and won. On April 1970, he played Board 2 in the USSR vs Rest of the World match in Belgrade, beating Petrosian with two wins and 2 draws.

He then went on to Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia and won the unofficial world 5 minute Championship with 17 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss. After the tournament he called off from memory all of the moves from his 22 games, involving over 1,000 moves. In May he took 1st at Rovinj/Zagreb. In August he took 1st place at Buenos Aires. On September he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 19th Olympiad in Siegen, Switzerland.

On November, Pal Benko gave up his spot at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal so that Fischer could play. Bobby won the event with 15 wins, seven draws, and 1 loss. Fischer won the Chess Oscar for 1970, 1971, and 1972. On June 1971, Bobby Fischer defeated Mark Taimanov with 6 wins, no draws, no losses in the Candidates quarterfinals in Vancouver, Canada. On July he defeated Bent Larsen also with a perfect 6-0 score in the Candidates semi-final in Denver, Colorado. His performance rating was 3060.

On August Bobby won the Manhattan Chess Club 5-minute blitz with 21 wins and 1 draw. On September, 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 at its peak of 2825. On July 11, 1972 he began his match with Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland for the world championship.

On September 1, 1972 Bobby became world champion after winning 7 games, drawing eleven games, and losing three games (1 on forfeit). Fischer received $160,000 for his efforts and another $40,000 in royalties. Bobby Fischer's last published USCF rating was 2810. His FIDE rating was 2785. On April 3, 1975 Bobby Fischer forfeited his title as world Chess Champion to Anatoly Karpov without playing a single Chess game since winning the world championship.

In 1977 Bobby Fischer played 3 games against the MIT Greenblatt computer program. He turned down $250,000 to play one Chess game at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and $3 million to play in a tournament in the Philippines. In 1978 Bobby Fischer filed a $3.2 million lawsuit against the publishers of a magazine critical of the Worldwide Church of God. He claimed the writers taped his conversations without his consent. He then accused the church of reneging on their promise to finance the lawsuit.

On May 26, 1981, Fischer was arrested in Pasadena under suspicion of a bank robber. He was stopped by a police officer who said he fit the description of a bank robber. Fischer refused to answer some questions as was arrested. In 1982 Fischer published, "I WAS TORTURED IN THE PASADENA JAILHOUSE." He used the pseudonym Robert James. In 1987 the House of Representatives passed House Resolution Bill 545 recognizing Fischer as the world Chess Champion.

In 1988 Bobby patented the Fischer digital Chess clock which adds two minutes per move. On September 1, 1992, Bobby Fischer came out of his 20 year retirement and gave a press conference in Yugoslavia. He pulled out an order from the U.S. Treasury Department warning him that he would be violating U.N sanctions if he played Chess in Yugoslavia. He spit on the order and now faces ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he returns to the U.S.

In addition, he must forfeit his $3.65 million to the U.S. Treasury and forfeit 10% of any match royalties earned. On September 30, Bobby Fischer began his rematch with Boris Spassky in Sveti Stefan, Yugoslavia. The match was organized by banker Jedzimir Vasiljevic. On November 11, Fischer won the match with 10 wins, 5 losses, and 15 draws. He received $3.65 million for his winnings and Spassky received $1.5 million.

The match used the new Bobby Fischer Chess clock. In 1996 Bobby traveled to Argentina to promote his random Chess, where you set up the pieces in a random manner. This would take away the book knowledge of regular Chess. The President of FIDE offered Fischer $100,000 and a piece of land in the Kalmyk Republic in redress for copyright violations by former Soviet publishers.


Bobby Fischer had been suffering at length from an undisclosed illness. He stayed at a Reykjavík Landsspítali hospital in October and November 2007, but he returned home gravely ill in December apparently rejecting any further Western medicine. On January 17, 2008, he died from kidney failure at the age of 64 in his home in Reykjavík.

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