He Learned Directly from God, Part 5

  • GM Julio_Becerra
  • | Sep 14, 2011

The 1969 U.S. Championship was also a zonal qualifier, with the top three finishers advancing to the Interzonal. Fischer however, did not play, because of disagreements about the tournament's format and prize fund. Benko, one of the three qualifiers, agreed to give up his spot in the Interzonal in order to give Fischer another shot at the World Championship. Bobby won the event with 18.5 of 23, three and a half points more than the second place finisher. His dramatic march toward the title made him a household name, and he made chess, in front-page news for a time. In December 1970 his FIDE rating was 2740, and he won the chess Oscar for 1970, then again for 1971, and 1972.

In June 1971, Bobby Fischer defeated Mark Taimanov 6-0 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 leave his wife back home.


Less than two months later, he astounded the chess world by beating Larsen in their match by the same score. Just a year before, Larsen had played first board for the Rest of the World team ahead of Fischer. Garry Kasparov later wrote that no World Champion had ever shown superiority over his rivals comparable to Fischer's "incredible" 12–0 score in these two matches. In August 1971, Fischer won a strong lightning event at the Manhattan Chess Club with a score of 21.5 of 22.


Only former World Champion Petrosian, Fischer's final opponent in the Candidates matches, was able to offer resistance in their match, played in Buenos Aires. Petrosian played a strong theoretical novelty in the first game, gaining the advantage, but Fischer played resourcefully and eventually won the game after Petrosian faltered. This gave Fischer an extraordinary run of 20 consecutive wins against the world's top players (in the Interzonal and Candidates matches). Petrosian won decisively in the second game, finally snapping Fischer's streak. After three consecutive draws, Fischer swept the next four games to win the match 6.5–2.5.


(this full game is analyzed here)

The final match victory allowed Fischer to challenge World Champion Boris Spassky, whom he had never beaten (+0 −3 =2). Soon after the Petrosian match Fischer appeared on the cover of Life. Fischer's amazing results gave him a far higher rating than any player in history up until that time. On the July 1972 FIDE rating list, his Elo rating of 2785 was 125 points ahead of Spassky, the second-highest rated player with 2660.

Before and during the match with Spassky in Reykjavik, for the World Championship, Fischer paid special attention to his physical training, which was a relatively novel approach for top chess players at that time. He had developed his tennis skills to a good level, and played frequently during off-days in Reykjavik. He also had arranged for exclusive use of his hotel's swimming pool during specified hours, and swam for extended periods, usually late at night.

Fischer lost the first two games, the first when he played a risky pawn-grab in a drawn endgame, the second by forfeit when he refused to play the game in a dispute over playing conditions. Fischer would likely have forfeited the entire match, but Spassky, not wanting to win by default, yielded to Fischer's demands to move the next game to a back room, away from the cameras whose presence had upset Fischer. After that game, the match was moved back to the stage and proceeded without further serious incident. Fischer won seven of the next 19 games, losing only one, and drawing eleven, to win the match 12.5–8.5 and become the 11th World Chess Champion. 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 FIDE rating was 2780. This would be his last FIDE rating.

The Cold War trappings made the match a media sensation. It was called "The Match of the Century," and received front-page media coverage in the United States and around the world. Fischer's win was an American victory in a field that Soviet players had dominated for the past quarter-century — players closely identified with, and subsidized by, the Soviet state. Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman calls Fischer's victory "the story of a lonely hero who overcomes an entire empire."

Fischer appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with American Olympic swimming champion Mark Spitz.

On April 3, 1975 Bobby Fischer forfeited his title as world Chess Champion to Anatoly Karpov, After the World Championship in 1972, Fischer virtually retired from chess: he did not play a competitive game in public for nearly 20 years.

In 1992 the Department of the Treasury ordered Bobby Fischer to stop his activities in the planning of a chess match in Yugoslavia. 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 10 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 re-match with Boris Spassky (ranked 99th in the world now) in Sveti Stefan (Montenegro), 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.


On January 17, 2008, Bobby Fischer died from kidney failure in a Reykjavik hospital. He was 64.

As soon as he achieves a minimum advantage, he begins to play like a machine. 


Fischer was always looking for the truth on the board. 


Fischer is a true fighter who always plays to win.









  • 3 months ago

    WGM CamillaB

    It is a bit scary to think about young Fisher starting to analyze chess with computers... he already impressed his contemporaries with his focus on studying the game. I'm afraid that could truly lead to an overload, even worse than happened in real life. I also don't think he became insane - just cared even less about political correctness.

  • 2 years ago


    Very good article. Thank you.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for the puzzle,really fisher is one of the greatest chess player ever!!

  • 5 years ago


    i think fischer is the best in history.. well because.. BEFORE computers.. the mans rating was 2780.... mere points away from 2800..... Imagine his ELO with Computers... Imagine it through the evolution of computers untill this day... i mean.. you would be looking at someone with an Elo of 3000+ and maybe magnus at 2817...

  • 5 years ago


    @ cabdan11 . . .  if he is not anti semetic... then tell me who the man you hear speaking here is.. cause it sounds like bobby fischer



  • 5 years ago


    I was 14 when Fisher took the World Title from the Russians.....excellent time for Fisher to arrive on the scene. We ( The U.S.) were involved in a very tense "Cold War" with the Russians. We were also winning the space race. Bobby Fisher came along and took their chess title .....it seemed like we were winning on every level!        I too am mesmerized by this man and his ability on the board. Bobby Fisher set the standard by which all else is compared....I truly idolize him and his skill, however, I all honesty have to say his personality sucked . He conducted himself in a very un-sportsman like manner and I (for one ) feel like it reflected badly on the U.S.  as well as the game itself.   In a word Bobby was "arrogant" !  I remember seeing news reels of him getting off of a plane and knocking out reporters who tried to interview him.This happened more than once. I used the word "arrogant" to define Fisher to another individual and brought up these incidents of battery and was told " He just wanted to be left alone and play chess...." Maybe that's true,but when you do things on such a grand scale ( win the world title ).....( take it away from a country who has maintained for 40 years ) don't you expect others to be interested ? I'm pretty sure if we hadn't paided attention Bobby would claim he was being snubbed! If this is the excuse we use to justify his conduct, I have to say it's a poor one.You just don't win world titles and not get attention from the press.....if you can't deal with that.........maybe you should just stay home and play chess. Maybe you should keep your skill level a secret!

  • 5 years ago


    Fischer seperated himself from the Worldwide Church of God after a scandal and I think from then on he began to loose his marbles. He felt betrayed I guess.

  • 5 years ago


    fisher was one of the greatest chess player

  • 5 years ago


    He mesmerized the chessworld with his astounding ability--which no other chess player can surpass, let alone equalize!

  • 5 years ago


    Bobby was not insane; he was just showing that his brain is made by God, who give amazing gifts to whom He loved!  In the Bible, the descendants of Abraham are God's chosen people: no more, no less!!!

  • 5 years ago


    Anti-semitic is a misnomer word and should not be labeled with Bobby's name on it!!! For one, Fischer is a member of the Worldwide Church of God: a church whose primordial doctrine is Semitic, or should I say Jewish; semitism applies both to Jews and Arabs, according to Dictionary.com.  No. 2 reason, he is loyal to tithing because he donated portion of his earnings to the church.  Tithing is embodied in Jews doctrine.  How can anyone say that Fischer is Anti-Semitic when even Bobby adhered to Semitic laws?

  • 5 years ago


    I like this article. With puzzles authored by Fisher, it helps improve my understanding in the field of chess.

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks a lot! Exellent article!

  • 5 years ago


    I agree with jedikush...and I agree with the title of this article....chess in its purest form....truth.....nothing can defeat the truth!

  • 5 years ago


    The thema of Fischer,s alleged insanity is coused and exploited only becouse of his Anti-zionism.

    All of you here who clam that the man was insane, only repeat what was published in mainstream books and films financed by Anti-Fischer falks. It is their,s propaganda you are submited to.


    RIP Bobby !

  • 5 years ago


    There was an event in Vancouver, Canada?  Amazing!  Wonder if there's been any major event like this in Canada in the last 30 years.

  • 5 years ago


    The way the Fischer vs. Addison 1970 Palma de Mallorca game unfolded was stunningly beautiful.

  • 5 years ago


    I don't care what excuses people come up with to excuse his behavior ... he was simply not a nice person; cared for nothing, and was an angry anti-Semite ... however, even I must admit ... when you look at his games, the genius within shines through ... how sad he was not entirely normal ... he could have done much for the game of chess.

  • 5 years ago


    It's funny, but about all the puzzles GM Becerra has posted, I found the most complex, Botvinnik, who claimed himself not to be a skilled tactical player.

  • 5 years ago


    As it was said before: The article title simply says he learned for himself...

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