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Why is there so much talk about Bobby Fischer

Vardymaster2
I recently noticed that Bobby Fischer was only world champion for like a few years and other players have been it for more than 2 decades so why is there so much talk about him?Please no spamming and don’t accuse me if I get anything wrong since I have only just started chess.
Strangemover

Because he quit chess whilst he was world champion and whilst regarded as the strongest player ever. As he was not dethroned naturally ie.beaten by someone else in a WC match, there is forever the question of when he would have relinquished the title and to whom. Also he defeated Spassky for the WC at the height of the cold war which sparked massive interest in the US. Finally he was notoriously eccentric both during his chess career (eg. forfeiting a game vs Spassky by not showing up), disappearing from public view for 20 odd years, then when he did reappear making some controversial statements about Jews and 9/11 whilst maintaining the appearance of a homeless man.

Vardymaster2
Strangemover wrote:

Because he quit chess whilst he was world champion and whilst regarded as the strongest player ever. As he was not dethroned naturally ie.beaten by someone else in a WC match, there is forever the question of when he would have relinquished the title and to whom. Also he defeated Spassky for the WC at the height of the cold war which sparked massive interest in the US. Finally he was notoriously eccentric both during his chess career (eg. forfeiting a game vs Spassky by not showing up), disappearing from public view for 20 odd years, then when he did reappear making some controversial statements about Jews and 9/11 whilst maintaining the appearance of a homeless man.

Ohh ok thanks 🙏 

gingerninja2003

Because he's American.

blueemu

At the time, Fischer totally dominated the game.

At the very top level... in Interzonals, Candidates matches and World Championship matches... it's common for people to win by only one or two points ahead of second place.

Fischer won the Interzonal by a big margin, sweeping his last seven games 7 - 0.

Then, in the Candidates match against Taimanov, Fischer defeated him 6 - 0.

Then, in the next round of the Candidates match, he defeated Larsen 6 - 0.

He then won the first game of his round 3 Candidates match against former world champion Petrosian... that made twenty wins in a row against super-GM opposition, not even conceding one of them a draw... before Petrosian finally broke Fischer's winning streak. Even then, Fischer won that match decisively, 6.5 - 2.5.

He then won the World Championship match against Spassky by a margin of four points... after going down 0 - 2 at the start (one of them a forfeit).

Fischer was head-and-shoulders above all of his contemporaries.

f169

All of the above reasons. Plus he was the quintessential non-social nerd in all ways, dress, manners, grooming. Couldn't tell if he had no self awareness, didn't care cause more important things to do, or just had spent his whole youth do nothing else.  He was the first rock star for dweebs like me and friends in highschool chess club in '78.  Like what the Who's "Tommy" was to pinball.

stiggling

Fischer stands out

 - Because of the political backdrop during his WCC match

 - Because of his idiosyncrasy (walking out of tournaments, accusing top players of cheating, etc)

 - Because of his dominating play (at the time he was the youngest GM in history, he lost rating points for winning the world championship, and many other such feats.)

 - Because at the peak of his fame he suddenly became a recluse and was clearly mentally ill

stiggling

I mean, can you imagine, lets say Anish Giri, starts accusing top 10 players of cheating, and badmouthing them for years, all without playing in tournaments, then one year he shows up, wins the FIDE Grand Prix, and the World Cup, dominates the candidates match, then in the world championship match forfeits two games to Carlsen on purpose, then dominates the rest of the match and wins the title... only to immediately stop playing chess. And all the while Norway and the Netherlands are on the brink of starting world war 3?

 

It's completely crazy. Nothing like that will ever happen again tongue.png

Vardymaster2
gingerninja2003 wrote:

Because he's American.

Now my life has changed

Spelenderwijs

Because he is the G.O.A.T!

BonTheCat

In 1970 through to 1972, Bobby Fischer played nearly 200 competitive games, mostly against world class opposition. He lost only seven (one of them blitz, and one a game on forfeit against Spassky in the 2nd match game), and scored a whopping 125 wins. This strike rate (78 per cent) is nothing short of marvellous.

jv2080

Because he knew a lot about chess. Not too much about anything else. He changed the way tournaments are conducted, came up with new time control/clock  to avoid scrambles, also came up with a variant of chess that makes it hard for people to rely on memorization of opening theory. (CHESS960).

He was the last American World Champion,(if my memory serves me correctly). There is a lot of talk about the U.S.A. grabbing it again possibly in the up coming World Chess Championship. Bobby was our last player that held it. So maybe that's why his name is coming up recently in the media.

MickinMD
Vardymaster2 wrote:
I recently noticed that Bobby Fischer was only world champion for like a few years and other players have been it for more than 2 decades so why is there so much talk about him?Please no spamming and don’t accuse me if I get anything wrong since I have only just started chess.

Note that Bobby Fischer was the best player in the world for a long time before he became champion, but the Soviet players in the Interzonal tournaments, that determined challengers, intentionally pre-arranged easy draws with each other so their players would be mentally fresher and less tired than Bobby when they played him.  That's why there were knockout matches of the top eight players AFTER the 1970 Palma Interzonal, because Fischer and others complained of the Soviet conspiracy.

The world champions before Fischer and after Fischer were, as Spassky put it, "First among equals."

When they won matches it was generally by close scores even though they were able to do it over and over.

But in 1970-72, Fischer astonished everyone. He has the highest performance rating of all time for the games played in 1970-71, over 2900.  In the playoff matches involving the top 8 challengers to the WC, Fischer won the quarter-final round with 6 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses.  Then he won the semifinal round 6 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses.  He became ill during the challenger final, playing the previous world champion Tigran Petrosian.  So he "only" won 5, drew 3, and lost 1.

In the 1970 Interzonal Tournament that resulted in the selection of the top 8 players, Fischer won 15, drew 7, and lost just 1 game, finishing first far above any other player.  In his other 3 major grandmaster tournaments in 1970 He was (W-D-L) 8-4-1, 13-4-0. and 10-6-1, finishing first in all of them.

He then, acting childishly, disrupted the 1972 World Championship match vs WC Spassky, lost the first game due to a blunder and forfeited the 2nd game.  Despite being down 2-0, Fischer won 6, drew 4 and lost 1 of the next 11 games.  Then, toying with Spassky, Fisher drew the next 7 games in a row, then won the final game, astonishing everyone by turning a Sicilian Defense into the ending from the Scotch Opening.

In the West, many of us had grown up with nuclear bomb drills where we had to crouch in interior hallways or under desks and initially too young to know if the sirens wailing in the distance were a real attack or not.

So when Bobby Fischer challenged the Soviet Union's players. He received enthusiastic media attention and support - until he played Spassky. Fischer's behavior was so bizarre, atrocious, and ungentlemanly that, as one reader wrote to a major American magazine, "Only Bobby Fischer could make Americans root for a Russian!"

U.S. Chess Federation TRIPLED after Fischer won those tournaments and matches.  But then Bobby let American Chess down as he seemed to become more and more interested in only himself and - even though his academic history is very weak - he preached to others as if he was an expert about everthing.  As time went on, he was considered a mentally disturbed man.  But the fact he played SO much greater than anyone else in his time has many believing he was the best ever.

lfPatriotGames
blueemu wrote:

At the time, Fischer totally dominated the game.

At the very top level... in Interzonals, Candidates matches and World Championship matches... it's common for people to win by only one or two points ahead of second place.

Fischer won the Interzonal by a big margin, sweeping his last seven games 7 - 0.

Then, in the Candidates match against Taimanov, Fischer defeated him 6 - 0.

Then, in the next round of the Candidates match, he defeated Larsen 6 - 0.

He then won the first game of his round 3 Candidates match against former world champion Petrosian... that made twenty wins in a row against super-GM opposition, not even conceding one of them a draw... before Petrosian finally broke Fischer's winning streak. Even then, Fischer won that match decisively, 6.5 - 2.5.

He then won the World Championship match against Spassky by a margin of four points... after going down 0 - 2 at the start (one of them a forfeit).

Fischer was head-and-shoulders above all of his contemporaries.

I did not know any of that, except for the beating the Russians part. Thank you. And MickinMD too. I'm sure some or most of that is what inspired my dad to teach me chess when I was young. The famous book by Fischer is the only chess book I have ever read so a big part of the reason he was so famous is because he was the right person at the right time. Maybe the current world champion is better, maybe not. But the circumstances are a lot different, so Fischer remains more famous.

Luitpoldt

In addition to the points made above, Fischer was an outstanding public personality who galvanized the chess world and drew many people into the game who would otherwise never have been interested in it.  Having witnessed the phenomenon, I can say that it was amazing to find so many people suddenly so fascinated with chess and the stores flooded with various 'Bobby Fischer' products.  

BonTheCat
MickinMD wrote:
Vardymaster2 wrote:
I recently noticed that Bobby Fischer was only world champion for like a few years and other players have been it for more than 2 decades so why is there so much talk about him?Please no spamming and don’t accuse me if I get anything wrong since I have only just started chess.

Note that Bobby Fischer was the best player in the world for a long time before he became champion, but the Soviet players in the Interzonal tournaments, that determined challengers, intentionally pre-arranged easy draws with each other so their players would be mentally fresher and less tired than Bobby when they played him.  That's why there were knockout matches of the top eight players AFTER the 1970 Palma Interzonal, because Fischer and others complained of the Soviet conspiracy.

This is not correct. The collusion/drawing pact happened in the Candidates Tournament in 1962 (although in fairness Fischer got off to a poor start and was never really in contention for first place). For the next cycle which started (with the zonals and) with the Amsterdam Interzonal in 1964 (leading up to the 1966 WC match), they had changed to knockout matches in the Candidates. In other words, there was no way that the Soviets could collude other than helping each other analyze adjourned games, etc. but back then the number of Soviet players who could progress from the Interzonal was limited to four or five (and had been so for a number of years: in fact an idea of Botvinnik's). However, Fischer didn't play in this cycle, and in the next cycle (ending with 1969 WC match) Fischer dropped out of the 1967 Sousse Interzonal while in the lead by quite a margin, having scored a massive 8½/10.

Fischer most definitely was top 5 in the world from the early 1960s, but it's difficult to anoint him the best since he more or less took a time out for 2½ years after the Sousse Interzonal. He played a tournament in Natanya in 1968, and only returned to competitive chess with the USSR v Rest of the World match in 1970. In the meantime Bent Larsen went on his streak, winning like five world class tournaments in a row. Fischer may very well have been the best in the late 1960s, but he didn't play to prove himself, and before the World Championship in 1972, Spassky had a positive record against Fischer. Spassky said that he felt that he was the best in the world in the late 60s. For us eulogizing Fischer, we also need to remember that Spassky was a fine natural player, very all round. He became junior World Champion in 1955 and a World Championship Candidate the same year. Unfortunately he never wrote a book about his own best games.

When Fischer was set to play in the Candidates leading up to the WC match in 1972 against Spassky, the Politbureau and the Ministry of Sports ordered the leading Soviet players to compile a dossier on Fischer: evaluation of his plaing style, with in-depth analyses of strengths and weakness, and how to defeat him. I specifically remember reading in Botvinnik's assessment that Fischer had a fondness for long Queen moves! Taimanov after he'd been stonewalled 6-0: 'It's impossible to beat Fischer.'

Weevil99

During a tournament in the 60s (I forget which), a starstruck fan came up to Fischer after his game and gushed, "You are a god!"  Fischer replied, "Yes, it's true.  But what a responsibility!"

danger98
Bobby Fischer was cute af
f169
Chessopera wrote:

Autism is a very tricky disorder.

High functioning Aspergers is very different. Hans would turn over in his grave by you people lumping them in with low IQ autistics on a linear "spectrum disorder" scale.

SpiritoftheVictory

1) Because he was really great.

2) Because he was somewhat crazy.

3) Because he was a MGTOW.

4) Because he refused to play until ALL of his conditions were met. This was even before his match with Karpov. Spassky - Fischer '72 almost did not happen because Fischer kept demanding things. One would argue that his demands were more or less reasonable but it was the manner of his stubborn attitude, his uncompromising character that made the difference (both in positive and negative way).

5) Because of his hatred for Jews, and then the United States. Some of it has some grounds and some of his views have some reason behind it but in politics he (just like so many people) was very confused - more so than most people. He was basing his views on his feelings and these were full of venom. The things he said and the when and way he said them made him a wanted man.

 

So, yeah, long story short, Bobby Fischer is sort of an enigma - both on the board and off the board and that's why people will always keep talking about him. But then, at the end of the day, he was just a human. So let the man rest in peace.