Fascinating Bobby Fischer Interview Posted On YouTube
Fischer solving the 15 Puzzle as Johnny Carson watches. Image: YouTube/Johnny Carson.

Fascinating Bobby Fischer Interview Posted On YouTube

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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64 | Chess Players

A fascinating interview with GM Bobby Fischer shortly after he became the world champion in 1972 has recently been posted on YouTube. Apart from sharing his thoughts on the match, Fischer shows remarkable skill at solving the 15 Puzzle.

The 18.5-minute interview is Fischer's television appearance with Johnny Carson on November 8, 1972, about two months after Fischer had defeated GM Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. Carson was an American TV host, comedian, writer, and producer but is most famous for his "The Tonight Show," which ran between 1962 and 1992.

Watch the full interview above.

Some other interviews with Fischer were already on YouTube, such as his appearance in CBS's "60 Minutes" in April 1972 or when he was a guest in ABC's "The Dick Cavett Show" after he had defeated GM Tigran Petrosian in 1971, apart from other clips from non-official channels (from those, don't miss Fischer's sketch in NBC's "The Bob Hope Show" or another program with Dick Cavett).

The recently posted interview with Carson stands out for having Fischer's thoughts after having won the world title, especially taking into account that, sadly, he would never defend it and in fact, would never play another official game until 1992.

"This is the big problem, how I top it," says Fischer, who immediately shows how good he was on television as he adds with a smile: "But I figure if I can keep the title for about 30 years, something like that...."

He admits that there was a letdown after the match was over: "I woke up the day after the thing was over, and I just felt different—like something had been taken out of me."

I just felt different—like something had been taken out of me. 

Asked how he dealt with some of the mistakes he had made during the games of the match, Fischer again made the audience laugh with his pointed reply: "I only lost two real games, so I didn't make too many moves that I regretted!"

Early in the match, Fischer famously demanded that the television cameras, which were too loud for him, be removed. He explained: "I want everything to be right. I didn't try to psych Spassky. There's no need to. I'm the best player, he knew it, everybody knew it. I heard that he appreciates me because I get the best conditions. Because I fight for all the things, he just has to sit back, and he knows that the best lighting, the best chess set, and the best everything will be there."

Fischer again added a lighter note: "He also says he owes his apartment in Moscow to me because of all the publicity. They had to give him a better apartment because he's an international star."

Bobby Fischer Johnny Carson
Fischer on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show." Image: YouTube/Johnny Carson.

As he explains the existing world championship cycle, which means his next match wouldn't be played for another three years, Carson asks Fischer what he plans to do. "I like to play," replies the brand-new world champion. "What am I gonna do for three years? I can't do talk shows just for three years!"

What am I gonna do for three years? I can't do talk shows just for three years!

Some of the modern-day top grandmasters are known for being night owls who tend to go to bed late and wake up around lunchtime. Examples are the now semi-retired GM Vladimir Kramnik and also World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who sometimes arrives late for a game after waking up not too much before it is scheduled to begin.

Fischer was like that as well and possibly to an even bigger extent. Reacting to the notion that he arrived up to 12-15 minutes late for some of his games with Spassky, he says: "I didn't do it on purpose. I go to be bed very late, I go to bed at five, six in the morning, so I was usually getting up about half an hour before game time. So I'd come a little late sometimes."

I go to bed at five, six in the morning, so I was usually getting up about half an hour before game time.

The second half of the interview is dedicated to the 15 Puzzle, the well-known sliding tile puzzle with numbered squares in random order with one tile missing. Tiles are placed in order by making sliding moves that use the empty space. As it turns out, Fischer was an expert with it as well.

"That's how I got interested in chess—because I was playing all the other games and they just were too easy," he says, before solving a 15 Puzzle in just 23 seconds that had been scrambled by Carson for him. "They didn't mix it up too well," Fischer teases.

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