Fischer in 1960
|Full name||Robert James Fischer|
March 9, 1943|
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Died||January 17, 2008
|Peak rating||2785 (July 1972 FIDE rating list)|
Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was an American chess prodigy, grandmaster, and the eleventh World Chess Champion. He is considered by many to be the greatest chess player who ever lived.
At age 13, Fischer won a "brilliancy" that became known as The Game of the Century. Starting at age 14, he played in eight United States Championships, winning each by at least a point. At the age of 15 years, 6 months and 1 day, he became both the youngest grandmaster and the youngest candidate for the World Championship up to that time. He won the 1963–64 U.S. Championship with 11/11, the only perfect score in the history of the tournament. He was then 20 years old. His book My 60 Memorable Games, published in 1969, remains a revered work in all chess literature.
In the early 1970s he became one of the most dominant players in history—winning the 1970 Interzonal by a record 3½-point margin and winning 20 consecutive games, including two unprecedented 6–0 sweeps in the Candidates Matches. He became the first official World Chess Federation (FIDE) number one ranked player in July 1971, and spent 54 total months at number one. In 1972, he captured the World Championship from Boris Spassky of the USSR in a match widely publicized as a Cold War confrontation. The match, held in Reykjavík, Iceland, attracted more worldwide interest and publicity than any chess match before or since.
In 1975, Fischer declined to defend his title when an agreement could not be reached with FIDE over one of the conditions for the match. Afterward, Fischer became a recluse, disappearing from the public eye until 1992, when he won an unofficial rematch against Spassky. The competition was held in Yugoslavia, which was under a United Nations embargo at the time. This led to a conflict with the U.S. government, which also sought income tax on his match winnings. Fischer never returned to his homeland, thus becoming a fugitive.
In the 1990s, Fischer proposed a new variant of chess as well as a modified chess timing system. His idea of adding a time increment after each move is now standard practice in top tournament and match play, and his variant Chess960 is gaining in popularity.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Fischer lived in Hungary, Germany, the Philippines, Japan, and Iceland. During this time he made increasingly anti-American and anti-semitic statements on various radio stations. His U.S. passport was revoked, and he was subsequently detained by Japanese authorities for nine months in 2004 and 2005 under threat of deportation. In March 2005, Iceland granted Fischer full citizenship, and Japanese authorities released him to Iceland, where he lived until his death in 2008.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Young champion
- 3 Grandmaster, candidate, author
- 4 U.S. Championships
- 5 Olympiads
- 6 1960–61
- 7 1962: success, setback, accusations of collusion
- 8 Religious affiliation
- 9 Semi-retirement in the mid-1960s
- 10 Successful return
- 11 World Champion
- 12 Sudden obscurity
- 13 1992 Spassky rematch
- 14 Life as an émigré
- 15 Death, estate dispute, and exhumation
- 16 Contributions to chess
- 17 In popular culture
- 18 Writings
- 19 Tournament and match summaries
- 20 Notable games
- 21 References
- 22 Further reading
- 23 External links
Bobby Fischer was born at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Illinois on March 9, 1943. His birth certificate listed his father as Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, also known as Gerardo Liebscher, a German biophysicist. His mother, Regina Wender Fischer, was an American citizen of Polish-Russian Jewish descent, born in Switzerland and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She later became a teacher, a registered nurse, and then a physician.
After graduating college in her teens, Regina traveled to Germany to visit her brother. It was there that she was hired by Hermann Joseph Muller, a geneticist and future Nobel Prize winner, who persuaded Regina to move to Moscow and enroll at I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University to study medicine. It was there that Regina met and married Hans-Gerhardt in November 1933.
They had a daughter, Joan Fischer, and lived in Moscow until 1938, when the anti-semitism that was spreading under Joseph Stalin forced Regina to leave school and move to Paris, France, with Joan in tow. While in Paris, Regina became an English teacher for a short time, until the threat of a German invasion of France led her to flee with Joan to the United States in 1939. Hans-Gerhardt tried to follow Regina and Joan, but was prevented from entering the United States because he was a German citizen. As it turned out, Hans-Gerhardt never did come to the United States. In fact, Regina and Hans-Gerhardt had separated in Moscow (although they did not officially divorce until 1945). As a result, Regina was a single parent, raising Bobby along with his elder sister, Joan. Regina lived an itinerant life, shuttling between different jobs and schools all over the country, and engaging in political activism. In 1948, the family moved to Mobile, Arizona, where Regina taught in an elementary school. The following year they moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she worked as an elementary school teacher and nurse.
Paul Nemenyi as Fischer's father
Sources implying that Paul Nemenyi, a Hungarian Jewish physicist (an expert in fluid and applied mechanics) may have been Fischer's biological father, were first made public in a 2002 investigation by Peter Nicholas and Clea Benson of The Philadelphia Inquirer. During the 1950s, the FBI investigated Regina and her circle for her alleged communist sympathies and her previous life in Moscow. The files from that FBI investigation into the family identify Nemenyi as Bobby's biological father. Government documents show that Hans-Gerhardt Fischer never entered the United States, having been refused admission by U.S. immigration officials because of alleged Communist sympathies. Regina and Nemenyi were reported to have had an affair in 1942. Additionally, Paul Nemenyi made monthly child support payments to her, and paid for Fischer's schooling until his own death in 1952. Nemenyi also lodged complaints with social workers saying he was concerned about the way that Regina was raising the child, on one occasion breaking down in tears when making the complaints. Separately, Bobby later told the Hungarian chess player Zita Rajcsanyi that Paul Nemenyi would sometimes show up at the family's Brooklyn apartment and take him on outings. After Paul Nemenyi died, in 1952, Regina Fischer wrote a letter to Paul Nemenyi's first son (Peter), asking if Paul had left money for Bobby in his will: "Bobby was sick 2 days with fever and sore throat and of course a doctor or medicine was out of the question. I don't think Paul would have wanted to leave Bobby this way and would ask you most urgently to let me know if Paul left anything for Bobby." Regina also told a social worker that the last time she had ever seen Hans-Gerhardt Fischer was in 1939, four years before Bobby was born. On another occasion, she told the same social worker she had traveled to Mexico to see Hans-Gerhardt in June 1942, and that Bobby was conceived during that meeting. According to Bobby Fischer's brother-in-law, Russell Targ, who was married to Bobby's half-sister, Joan, for 40 years, Regina concealed the fact that Nemenyi was Bobby's father because she wanted to avoid the stigma of an out-of-wedlock birth.
In May 1949, the six-year-old Bobby, and his sister Joan, learned how to play chess using the instructions from a chess set bought at a candy store below their Brooklyn apartment. When Joan lost interest in chess and Regina didn't have time to play, it left Fischer to play many of his first games against himself. When the family vacationed at Patchogue, Long Island that summer, Bobby found a book of old chess games, and studied it intensely. On November 14, 1950, his mother sent a postcard to the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper, seeking to place an ad, inquiring whether other children of Bobby's age might be interested in playing chess with him. The paper rejected her ad because no one could figure out how to classify it, but forwarded her inquiry to Hermann Helms, the "Dean of American Chess", who told her that Master Max Pavey would be giving a simultaneous exhibition on January 17, 1951. Fischer played in the exhibition, losing in 15 minutes. One of the spectators was Carmine Nigro, president of the Brooklyn Chess Club, who introduced Fischer to the club and began teaching him. Fischer attended the club regularly, intensified his interest, and gained playing strength rapidly. In the summer of 1955, the then 12-year-old Fischer joined the Manhattan Chess Club, the strongest in the country. Fischer's relationship with Nigro lasted five years, from 1951 to 1956, when Nigro moved away to Florida.
Carmine Nigro introduced Fischer to future grandmaster William Lombardy, and, starting in September 1954, Lombardy began coaching Fischer in private, training him to be totally immersed in the game: "We spent hours in our sessions, simply playing over quality games", and that he "tried to instill in Bobby the secret of [his] own speedy rise. Eidetic Imagery and Total Immersion." Based on a 1956 game Lombardy played against Pavilias Vaitonis (in which he agreed to a draw offer after only 13 moves), he advised Fischer to play for wins, rather than draws: "Do not accept draw offers. For an ambitious and talented player, accepting a draw is death to a top result. Opponents fear an uncompromising opponent and thus make more mistakes. Act as I advise and do not copy my timidity". Lombardy would play a key part in Fischer becoming World Champion. He was Fischer's aide at Portorož where they analyzed Fischer's games. He was Bobby's second in Reykjavik, where he analyzed with Fischer, and helped keep Fischer in the match.
The Hawthorne Chess Club
In June 1956, Fischer began attending the "Hawthorne Chess Club", which was actually master John "Jack" W. Collins' home.
For many years it was believed that Collins was Fischer's teacher and coach, even though Collins stated that he did not teach Fischer. It is now believed that Collins was Fischer's mentor, not his teacher or coach.
"A mentor and a friend, Fischer played thousands of blitz and offhand games with Collins and other strong players, began studying the books in Collins' large chess library, and ate almost as many dinners at Collins' home as his own."
Future grandmaster Arnold Denker was also a mentor to young Bobby, often taking him to watch the New York Rangers play hockey at Madison Square Garden. Denker wrote that Bobby enjoyed those treats and never forgot them; the two became lifelong friends.
Fischer experienced a "meteoric rise" in his playing strength during 1956. On the tenth national rating list of the United States Chess Federation (USCF), published on May 20, 1956, his rating was a modest 1726, over 900 points below top-rated Samuel Reshevsky (2663).
Fischer was involved with the Log Cabin Chess Club of Orange, New Jersey, which in March 1956 took him on a tour to Cuba, where he gave a 12-board simultaneous exhibition at Havana's Capablanca Chess Club, winning ten and drawing two. On this tour the club played a series of matches against other clubs. Fischer played on second board, behind strong master Norman Whitaker. Whitaker and Fischer were the leading scorers for the club, each scoring 5½ points out of 7 games.
In July 1956, Fischer won the U.S. Junior Chess Championship, scoring 8½/10 at Philadelphia to become the youngest-ever Junior Champion at age 13, a record that still stands. In the 1956 U.S. Open Chess Championship at Oklahoma City, Fischer scored 8½/12 to tie for 4th–8th places, with Arthur Bisguier winning. In the first Canadian Open Chess Championship at Montreal 1956, he scored 7/10 to tie for 8–12th places, with Larry Evans winning. In November, Fischer played in the 1956 Eastern States Open Championship in Washington DC. He tied for second with William Lombardy, Nicholas Rossolimo, and Arthur Feuerstein, with Hans Berliner taking first by a half point.
Fischer accepted an invitation to play in the Third Lessing J. Rosenwald Trophy Tournament at New York City 1956, a premier tournament limited to the 12 players considered the best in the country. Fischer received entry by special consideration, since his rating was certainly not among the top 12 in the country at that stage. In that elite company, the 13-year-old Fischer could only score 4½/11, tying for 8th–9th place. This was his first truly strong round-robin event, and he achieved a creditable result, certainly above what his rating predicted.
He won the first brilliancy prize for his game against Donald Byrne. Hans Kmoch christened it "The Game of the Century", writing, "The following game, a stunning masterpiece of combination play performed by a boy of 13 against a formidable opponent, matches the finest on record in the history of chess prodigies." "'The Game of the Century' has been talked about, analyzed, and admired for more than fifty years, and it will probably be a part of the canon of chess for many years to come." "In reflecting on his game a while after it occurred, Bobby was refreshingly modest: 'I just made the moves I thought were best. I was just lucky.'"
In 1957, Fischer played a two-game match against former World Champion Max Euwe at New York, losing ½–1½. On the USCF's eleventh national rating list, published on May 5, 1957, Fischer was rated 2231, a master—over 500 points higher than his rating a year before. This made him at that time the country's youngest master ever. In July, Fischer successfully defended his U.S. Junior title, scoring 8½/9 at San Francisco. In August, he played in the U.S. Open Chess Championship at Cleveland, scoring 10/12 and winning on tie-breaking points over Arthur Bisguier, making Fischer the youngest U.S. Open Champion ever. He next won the New Jersey Open Championship, scoring 6½/7. Fischer then defeated the young Filipino master Rodolfo Tan Cardoso 6–2 in a New York match sponsored by Pepsi-Cola.
Wins first U.S. title
Based on Fischer's rating and strong results, the USCF invited him to play in the 1957–58 U.S. Championship. The tournament included such luminaries as six-time champion Samuel Reshevsky, defending champion Bisguier, and William Lombardy, who in August had won the World Junior Championship with the only perfect score (11–0) in its history. Fischer was expected to score around 50%. Bisguier predicted that Fischer would "finish slightly over the center mark". He scored eight wins and five draws to win the tournament with 10½/13, a point ahead of Reshevsky. Still two months shy of his 15th birthday, he became the youngest U.S. Champion in history—a record that still stands. Since the championship that year was also the U.S. Zonal Championship, Fischer's victory earned him the International Master title.
Fischer's victory in the U.S. Championship sent his rating up to 2626, landing him second (in the United States) only to Reshevsky (2713), and qualified him to participate in the 1958 Portorož Interzonal, the next step toward challenging the World Champion.
Bobby had wanted to go to Moscow for a long time, and, at his pleading, Regina Fischer requested he be invited. "In 1957, Regina wrote directly to the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, requesting an invitation for her son to participate in the World Youth and Student Festival. The reply—affirmative—came too late for him to go." Regina did not have the money to pay the air fare to send Bobby to Europe to play, but the following year, Fischer was invited onto the game show I've Got a Secret, where, thanks to Regina's efforts, the producers of the show arranged two round-trip tickets to Russia.
Once in Russia, Fischer was invited by the Soviet Union to come to Moscow. "The Soviet Union had agreed to invite Bobby to Moscow, and generously pay all expenses for him and his sister..." International Master Lev Abramov served as Fischer and Joan's guide to Moscow. Upon arrival, Fischer immediately demanded that he be taken to the Moscow Central Chess Club.
Upon arriving, Fischer played speed chess with "two young Soviet masters": Evgeni Vasiukov and Alexander Nikitin. Fischer won every game. "Back in 1958, in the Central Chess Club, [grandmaster] Vladimir Alatortsev saw a tall, angular 15-year-old youth, who in blitz games, crushed almost everyone who crossed his path... Alatortsev was no exception, losing all three games... On arriving home, Vladimir said in admiration to his wife: 'This is the future world champion!'"
Fischer demanded that he play against then reigning World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik. When he was told that this was not possible, Fischer asked to play Keres. "Finally, Tigran Petrosian was, on a semi-official basis, summoned to the club..." where he played speed games with Fischer, winning the majority. "When Bobby discovered that he wasn't going to play any formal games... he went into a not-so-silent rage." Fischer said he was fed up "with these Russian pigs", which angered the Soviets who saw Fischer as their honored guest. It was then that the Yugoslavian chess officials phoned Regina and offered to take in Fischer and his sister as early guests to the Interzonal Tournament. The officials arranged for training matches for Fischer. Fischer left Moscow, touched down in Yugoslavia, and played two short training matches against masters Dragoljub Janošević and Milan Matulović. Fischer drew both games against Janošević, and then defeated Matulović in Belgrade by 2½–1½.
The top six finishers in the Interzonal would qualify for the Candidates Tournament. Most observers doubted that a 15-year-old with no international experience could finish among the six qualifiers at the Interzonal, but Fischer told journalist Miro Radoicic, "I can draw with the grandmasters, and there are half-a-dozen patzers in the tournament I reckon to beat." Despite some bumps in the road, and a problematic start, Fischer succeeded in his plan: after a strong finish, he ended up with 12/20 (+6−2=12) to tie for 5th–6th. The Soviet grandmaster Yuri Averbakh observed, "In the struggle at the board this youth, almost still a child, showed himself to be a full-fledged fighter, demonstrating amazing composure, precise calculation and devilish resourcefulness." Bronstein said of Fischer: "We had breakfast, lunch and dinner. And like that for a whole month... It was interesting for me to observe Fischer, but for a long time I couldn't understand why this 15-year-old boy played chess so well."
Fischer became the youngest person ever to qualify for the Candidates. He also became the youngest grandmaster in history at 15 years and 6 months. This record stood until 1991 when it was broken by Judit Polgár. "By then everyone knew we had a genius on our hands."
Before the Candidates' tournament, Fischer competed in the 1958–59 U.S. Championship (winning with 8½/11) and then in international tournaments at Mar del Plata, Santiago, and Zürich. He played unevenly in the two South American tournaments. At the strong Mar del Plata event, he finished tied for third with Borislav Ivkov, half a point behind tournament winners Ludek Pachman and Miguel Najdorf; this confirmed his status as a grandmaster. At Santiago, he tied for 4th–6th places, behind Ivkov, Pachman, and Herman Pilnik.
Fischer did better at the very strong Zürich International Tournament, finishing a point behind future World Champion Mikhail Tal and half a point behind Svetozar Gligorić. Tal recalled an encounter typical of Fischer's uncompromising style: "In his game with the oldest competitor, the Hungarian grandmaster Gedeon Barcza, Fischer had no advantage, but, not wishing to let his opponent go in peace, played on to the 103rd move. The game was adjourned three times and the contestants used up two score sheets, but even when there were only the kings left on the board, Fischer made two more moves! Draw! Stunned by such a fanatical onslaught, Barcza could barely get up from his chair, but Bobby nonchalantly suggested: 'Let's have a look at the game from the beginning...' Barcza then began pleading: 'Look, I have a wife and children. Who's going to support them in the event of my untimely death!'"
Although Fischer had ended his formal education at age 16, he subsequently taught himself several foreign languages, to gain access to foreign chess periodicals. According to Latvian chess master Alexander Koblencs, even he and Tal could not match the commitment that Fischer had made to chess. Recalling a conversation from the tournament: "'Tell me, Bobby,' Tal continued, 'what do you think of the playing style of Larissa Volpert?' 'She's too cautious. But you have another girl, Dmitrieva. Her games do appeal to me!' Here we were left literally open-mouthed in astonishment. Misha and I have looked at thousands of games, but it never even occurred to us to study the games of our women players. How could we find the time for this?! Yet Bobby, it turns out, had found the time!"
Until late 1959, Fischer "had dressed atrociously for a champion, appearing at the most august and distinguished national and international events in sweaters and corduroys". A director of the Manhattan Chess Club had once banned Fischer for not being "properly accoutered", forcing Denker to intercede to get him reinstated. Now, encouraged by Pal Benko to dress more smartly, Fischer "began buying suits from all over the world, hand-tailored and made to order". He boasted to journalist Ralph Ginzburg in 1961 that he had 17 suits, all hand-tailored, and that his shirts and shoes were also handmade.
At the age of 16, Fischer finished a creditable equal fifth out of eight, the top non-Soviet player, at the Candidates Tournament held in Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1959. He scored 12½/28 but was outclassed by tournament winner Tal, who won all four of their individual games.
Fischer published his first book of collected games at age 16, in 1959, entitled Bobby Fischer's Games of Chess, and published by Simon & Schuster.
Drops out of school
Fischer attended Erasmus Hall High School at the same time as Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. In 1959, its student council awarded him a gold medal for his chess achievements. The same year, Fischer dropped out of high school when he turned age 16, the earliest he could legally do so. He later explained to Ralph Ginzburg, "You don't learn anything in school. It's just a waste of time."
When Fischer was 16, his mother moved out of their apartment to pursue medical training. Her friend Joan Rodker, who had met Regina when the two were "idealistic communists" living in Moscow in the 1930s, believes that Fischer resented his mother for being mostly absent as a mother, a communist activist and an admirer of the Soviet Union, and that this led to his hatred for the Soviet Union. In letters to Rodker, Fischer's mother states her desire to pursue her own "obsession" of training in medicine and writes that her son would have to live in their Brooklyn apartment without her: "It sounds terrible to leave a 16-year-old to his own devices, but he is probably happier that way." The apartment was on the edge of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood that had one of the highest homicide and general crime rates in New York City. Despite the alienation from her son, Regina in 1960 staged a five-hour protest in front of the White House urging President Dwight Eisenhower to send an American team to that year's chess Olympiad (set for Leipzig, East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain), and to help support the team financially.
U.S. Champ. Score Place Margin Percentage Age 1957–1958 10½/13 (+8−0=5) First 1 point 81% 14 1958–1959 8½/11 (+6−0=5) First 1 point 77% 15 1959–1960 9/11 (+7−0=4) First 1 point 82% 16 1960–1961 9/11 (+7−0=4) First 2 points 82% 17 1962–1963 8/11 (+6−1=4) First 1 point 73% 19 1963–1964 11/11 (+11−0=0) First 2½ points 100% 20 1965 8½/11 (+8−2=1) First 1 point 77% 22 1966–1967 9½/11 (+8−0=3) First 2 points 86% 23
Fischer missed the 1961–62 Championship (he was preparing for the upcoming Interzonal), and there was no 1964–65 event. His total score was 74/90 (61 wins, 26 draws, 3 losses), with the only losses being to Edmar Mednis in the 1962–63 event, and in consecutive rounds to Samuel Reshevsky, and Robert Byrne in the 1965–66 championship. For his career, he achieved 82.2 percent in the U.S. Championship.
Fischer refused to play in the 1958 Munich Olympiad when his demand was turned down that he, as the reigning U.S. Champion, play first board ahead of Samuel Reshevsky. According to some sources, Fischer, then 15, was unable to arrange leave from attending high school in order to play in Munich. Yet, he represented the United States on top board with great distinction at four Olympiads:
Olympiad Individual result U.S. team result Leipzig 1960 13/18 (Bronze) Silver Varna 1962 11/17 (Eighth) Fourth Havana 1966 15/17 (Silver) Silver Siegen 1970 10/13 (Silver) Fourth
Fischer's overall total was +40−7=18, for 49/65 or 75.4%. In 1966, he narrowly missed the individual gold medal, scoring 88.23% to World Champion Tigran Petrosian's 88.46%. Fischer played four more games than Petrosian, faced stiffer opposition, and would have won the gold if he had accepted Florin Gheorghiu's draw offer in the penultimate round rather than declining it and suffering his only loss.
In the 1962 Varna Olympiad, on the eve of the match between the U.S. and Argentine teams, Fischer boasted to his teammates that he would finish his game in 25 moves. His opponent the next day, Miguel Najdorf, opened with the Sicilian Najdorf, and resigned on move 24.
In 1960, Fischer tied for first place with the young Soviet star Boris Spassky at the strong Mar del Plata tournament in Argentina, with the two well ahead of the rest of the field, scoring 13½/15. Fischer lost only to Spassky, and this was the start of their relationship, which began on a friendly basis and stayed that way, in spite of Fischer's troubles against him over-the-board.
Fischer struggled in the later Buenos Aires tournament, finishing with 8½/19 (won by Viktor Korchnoi and Samuel Reshevsky on 13/19). This was the only real failure of Fischer's competitive career. According to Larry Evans, Fischer's first sexual experience was with a girl to whom Evans introduced him during the tournament. Pal Benko says that Fischer did horribly in the tournament "because he got caught up in women and sex. Afterwards, Fischer said he'd never mix women and chess together, and kept the promise." Fischer concluded 1960 by winning a small tournament in Reykjavík with 4½/5, and defeating Klaus Darga in an exhibition game in West Berlin.
In 1961, Fischer started a 16-game match with Reshevsky, split between New York and Los Angeles. Despite Fischer's meteoric rise, the veteran Reshevsky, 32 years Fischer's senior, was considered the favorite, since he had far more match experience and had never lost a set match. After 11 games and a tie score (two wins apiece with seven draws), the match ended prematurely due to a scheduling dispute between Fischer and match organizer and sponsor Jacqueline Piatigorsky. Reshevsky was declared the winner of the match, and received the winner's share of the prize fund.
Fischer was second behind former World Champion Tal at Bled 1961, which had a super-class field. He defeated Tal head-to-head for the first time, scored 3½/4 against the Soviet contingent, and finished as the only unbeaten player, with 13½/19.
1962: success, setback, accusations of collusion
In the next World Championship cycle, Fischer won the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal by 2½ points, scoring an undefeated 17½/22. He was the first non-Soviet player to win an Interzonal since FIDE instituted the tournament in 1948. Russian grandmaster Alexander Kotov said of his play:
I have discussed Fischer's play with Max Euwe and Gideon Stahlberg. All of us, experienced 'tournament old-timers', were surprised by Fischer's endgame expertise. When a young player is good at attacking or at combinations, this is understandable, but a faultless endgame technique at the age of 19 is something rare. I can recall only one other player who at that age was equally skillful at endgames — Vasily Smyslov.
Fischer's decisive Interzonal victory made him one of the favorites for the Candidates Tournament in Curaçao, which began soon afterwards. He finished fourth out of eight with 14/27, the best result by a non-Soviet player, but well behind Tigran Petrosian (17½/27), Efim Geller, and Paul Keres (both 17/27). Tal fell very ill during the tournament, and had to withdraw before completion. Fischer, a friend of Tal, was the only contestant who visited him in the hospital.
Accuses Soviets of collusion
Following his failure in the 1962 Candidates (at which five of the eight players were from the Soviet Union), Fischer asserted in an August 1962 article in Sports Illustrated magazine, entitled The Russians Have Fixed World Chess, that three of the Soviet players (Tigran Petrosian, Paul Keres, and Efim Geller) had a pre-arranged agreement to quickly draw their games against each other in order to save energy and to concentrate on playing against Fischer, and that a fourth, Viktor Korchnoi, had been forced to deliberately lose games to ensure that a Soviet player won the tournament. It is generally thought that the former accusation is correct, but not the latter. Anatoly Karpov, later World Champion, wrote in his 1991 autobiography that Korchnoi had complained in the Soviet Union, shortly after the 1962 Candidates' event, about not being included in the colluding group of Soviets. Fischer also stated that he would never again participate in a Candidates' tournament, since the format, combined with the alleged collusion, made it impossible for a non-Soviet player to win.
Following Fischer's article, FIDE in late 1962 voted a radical reform of the playoff system, replacing the Candidates' tournament with a format of one-on-one knockout matches; this was the format that Fischer would dominate in 1971.
In the 1962–63 U.S. Championship, Fischer had a close call. In the first round he lost to Edmar Mednis, his first loss ever in a U.S. Championship. Bisguier was in excellent form, and Fischer caught up to him only at the end. Tied at 7–3, the two met in the last round for the championship. Bisguier stood well in the middlegame, but blundered, handing Fischer his fifth consecutive U.S. championship.
In an interview in the January 1962 issue of Harper's, Fischer was quoted as saying, "I read a book lately by Nietzsche and he says religion is just to dull the senses of the people. I agree."
Fischer's mother was Jewish. Fischer, however, disavowed having Jewish roots and joined the Worldwide Church of God in the mid-1960s. This church prescribed Saturday Sabbath, and forbade work (and competitive chess) on Sabbath. Fischer's religious obligations were respected by chess organizers, concerning scheduling of his games. Fischer contributed significant money over several years to the Worldwide Church of God.
In 1972 one journalist stated that "Fischer is almost as serious about religion as he is about chess", and the champion credited his faith with greatly improving his chess. That year was a disastrous one for the Worldwide Church of God, however, as prophecies by Herbert W. Armstrong were unfulfilled, and the church was rocked by revelations of a series of sex scandals involving Garner Ted Armstrong. Fischer, who felt betrayed and swindled by the Worldwide Church of God, left it and publicly denounced it.
Semi-retirement in the mid-1960s
Fischer declined an invitation to play in the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup tournament in Los Angeles, which had a world-class field. His decision was probably influenced by ill will over the aborted 1961 match against Reshevsky, which had been arranged by the same organizer. Instead, he played in the Western Open in Bay City, Michigan, which he won with 7½/8. In August–September 1963, he won another minor event, the New York State Championship at Poughkeepsie, with 7/7, his first perfect score.
In the 1963–64 U.S. Championship, "One by one Fischer mowed down the opposition as he cut an 11–0 swathe through the field, to demonstrate convincingly to the opposition that he was now in a class by himself." This result brought Fischer heightened fame, including a profile in Life magazine. Sports Illustrated diagrammed each of the 11 games in its article, "The Amazing Victory Streak of Bobby Fischer". Such extensive chess coverage was groundbreaking for the top American sports magazine.
His 11–0 win in the 1963–64 Championship is the only perfect score in the history of the tournament, and one of about ten perfect scores in high-level chess tournaments ever. David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld called it "the most remarkable achievement of this kind". Fischer recalls of the event:
Motivated by my lopsided result (11–0!), Dr. [Hans] Kmoch congratulated [Larry] Evans (the runner up) on "winning" the tournament... and then he congratulated me on "winning the exhibition."
Going into the final game I certainly did not expect to upset Fischer. I hardly knew the opening but played simply, and he went along with the scenario, opting for a N-v-B [i.e., Knight vs. Bishop] endgame with a minimal edge. In the corridor, Evans said to me, 'Good. Show him we're not all children.'
At adjournment, Saidy saw a way to force a draw, yet "sealed a different, wrong move", and lost. "The rest is history."
"Chess publications around the world wrote of the unparalleled achievement. Only Bent Larsen, always a Fischer detractor, was unimpressed: 'Fischer was playing against children,' he said. Reshevsky a child? Robert Byrne? Larry Evans? Pal Benko?"
Fischer, eligible as U.S. Champion, decided not to participate in the Amsterdam Interzonal in 1964, thus taking himself out of the 1966 World Championship cycle. He held to this decision even when FIDE changed the format of the eight-player Candidates Tournament from a round-robin to a series of knockout matches, which eliminated the possibility of collusion. He instead embarked on a tour of the United States and Canada from February through May, playing a simultaneous exhibition and giving a lecture in each of more than 40 cities. His 94% winning percentage over more than 2,000 games is one of the best ever achieved. Fischer also declined an invitation to play for the U.S. in the 1964 Olympiad in Tel Aviv.
Fischer wanted to play in the Capablanca Memorial Tournament, Havana in August and September 1965. The State Department, however, refused to endorse Fischer's passport as valid for visiting Cuba. Fischer instead proposed, and the tournament officials and players accepted, a unique arrangement: Fischer played his moves from a room at the Marshall Chess Club, which were then transmitted by teleprinter to Cuba. Luděk Pachman observed that Fischer "was handicapped by the longer playing session resulting from the time wasted in transmitting the moves, and that is one reason why he lost to three of his chief rivals". The tournament was an "ordeal" for Fischer, who had to endure eight-hour and sometimes even twelve-hour playing sessions. Despite this handicap, he tied for second through fourth places, with 15/21, behind former World Champion Vasily Smyslov, whom he defeated in their individual game. The tournament received extensive media coverage.
In December, Fischer won his seventh U.S. Championship (1965), with the score of 8½/11.
Fischer began 1966 by winning the U.S. Championship for the seventh time despite losing to Robert Byrne and Reshevsky in the eighth and ninth rounds. He also reconciled with Mrs. Piatigorsky, accepting an invitation to the very strong second Piatigorsky Cup tournament in Santa Monica. Fischer began disastrously and after eight rounds was tied for last with 3/8. He then staged "the most sensational comeback in the history of grandmaster chess", scoring 7/8 in the next eight rounds. At the end, World Championship finalist Boris Spassky edged him out by a half point, scoring 11½/18 to Fischer's 11. Now aged 23, Fischer would win every match or tournament he completed for the rest of his life.
In 1967, Fischer won the U.S. Championship for the eighth and final time, ceding only three draws. In March–April and August–September, he won strong tournaments at Monte Carlo (7/9) and Skopje (13½/17). In the Philippines he played a series of nine exhibition games against master opponents, winning eight and drawing one.
Withdraws while leading Interzonal
Fischer's win in the 1965 U.S. Championship qualified him for the next World Championship cycle. At the 1967 Sousse Interzonal, Fischer scored 8½ points in the first 10 games, to lead the field. His observance of the Worldwide Church of God's seventh-day Sabbath was honored by the organizers, but deprived Fischer of several rest days, which led to a scheduling dispute. Fischer forfeited two games in protest and later withdrew, eliminating himself from the 1969 World Championship cycle. Since Fischer had completed less than half of his scheduled games, all of his results were annulled, meaning players who had played Fischer had those games cancelled, and the scores nullified from the official tournament record.
In 1968, Fischer won tournaments at Netanya (11½/13) and Vinkovci (11/13) by large margins. Fischer then stopped playing for the next 18 months, with the exception of a win against Anthony Saidy in a 1969 New York Metropolitan League team match.
In 1969, Fischer released his second games collection, entitled My 60 Memorable Games, which was published by Simon & Schuster. Fischer was assisted by his friend, grandmaster Larry Evans. The book of deeply annotated games became an instant best-seller.
In 1970, Fischer began a new effort to become World Champion. His dramatic march toward the title made him a household name and made chess front-page news for a time. Chess statistician Jeff Sonas observes that "for about a year, Bobby Fischer dominated his contemporaries to an extent never seen before or since." He won the title in 1972, but forfeited it three years later.
Road to the World Championship
The 1969 U.S. Championship was also a zonal qualifier, with the top three finishers advancing to the Interzonal. Fischer, however, had sat out the U.S. Championship 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.
"When it was suggested to Fischer that Benko was considering the gesture based on a large sum of money to be paid to him, Bobby replied that Benko would not give up his berth for money alone. It was a matter of honor." "The only condition I asked for stepping down was for Fischer to agree not to withdraw from the Interzonal or the ensuing matches should he qualify for them - and he fulfilled this condition." According to Brady, "Lombardy, who was next in line with the right to participate, was queried as to whether he would also step aside. 'I would like to play,' he answered, 'but Fischer should have the chance.'"
Before the Interzonal, in March and April 1970, the world's best players competed in the USSR vs. Rest of the World match in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, often referred to as "the Match of the Century". Fischer allowed Bent Larsen of Denmark to play first board for the Rest of the World team in light of Larsen's recent outstanding tournament results, even though Fischer had the higher Elo rating. The USSR team eked out a 20½–19½ victory, but on second board Fischer beat Tigran Petrosian, whom Boris Spassky had dethroned as World Champion the previous year, 3–1, winning the first two games and drawing the last two.
After the USSR versus the Rest of the World Match, the unofficial World Championship of Lightning Chess (5-minute games) was held at Herceg Novi. Petrosian and Tal were considered the favorites, but Fischer overwhelmed the super-class field with 19/22 (+17−1=4), far ahead of Tal (14½), Korchnoi (14), Petrosian (13½), Bronstein (13), etc. Fischer lost only one game, to Korchnoi, who was also the only player to achieve an even score against him in the double round robin tournament. Fischer "crushed such blitz kings as Tal, Petrosian and Smyslov by a clean score". Tal marveled that, "During the entire tournament he didn't leave a single pawn en prise!", while the other players "blundered knights and bishops galore".
In April–May 1970, Fischer won easily at Rovinj/Zagreb with 13/17 (+10−1=6), finishing two points ahead of a field that included such leading players as Gligorić, Hort, Korchnoi, Smyslov, and Petrosian. In July–August, he crushed the mostly grandmaster field at Buenos Aires, scoring 15/17 (+13−0=4) and winning by 3½ points. Fischer then played first board for the U.S. Team in the Siegen Olympiad in the 19th Chess Olympiad in Siegen, where he won an individual Silver medal, winning 76.9% of his games, and scoring 10/13 (+8−1=4), with his only loss being to World Champion Boris Spassky. Right after the Olympiad, he defeated Ulf Andersson in an exhibition game for the Swedish newspaper Expressen. Fischer had taken his game to a new level.
The Interzonal was held in Palma de Mallorca in November and December 1970. Fischer won it with an 18½–4½ score (+15−1=7), far ahead of Larsen, Efim Geller, and Robert Hübner, who tied for second at 15–8. Fischer's 3½-point margin set a new record for an Interzonal, beating Alexander Kotov's 3-point margin at Saltsjöbaden 1952. Fischer finished the tournament with seven consecutive wins (including a final-round walkover against Oscar Panno). Setting aside the Sousse Interzonal (which Fischer withdrew from while leading), Fischer's victory gave him a string of eight consecutive first prizes in tournaments.
Former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik was not, however, impressed by Fischer's results, stating: "Fischer has been declared a genius. I do not agree with this... In order to rightly be declared a genius in chess, you have to defeat equal opponents by a big margin. As yet he has not done this."
Despite Botvinnik's remarks, "Fischer began a miraculous year in the history of chess." In the 1971 Candidates matches, Fischer was set to play against Soviet grandmaster and concert pianist Mark Taimanov in the quarter-finals. "Their match was to begin in May 1971 in Vancouver, Canada, on the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia." "[Fischer] saw himself as the firm favorite in the Taimanov match. He was not alone; the noncommunist press was of the same mind. Only Taimanov insisted that he could win, dismissing Fischer as a mere computer."
Taimanov had reason to be confident. He was backed by the firm guidance of Botvinnik, who "had thoroughly analysed Fischer's record and put together a 'dossier' on him", from when he was in talks to play Fischer in a match "a couple of years earlier". But Taimanov's preparation proved insufficient for Fischer.
After Fischer defeated Taimanov in the second game of the match, Taimanov asked Fischer how he managed to come up with the move 12. N1c3, to which Fischer replied "that the idea was not his—he had come across it in the monograph by the Soviet master Alexander Nikitin in a footnote." Taimanov said of this: "It is staggering that I, an expert on the Sicilian, should have missed this theoretically significant idea by my compatriot, while Fischer had uncovered it in a book in a foreign language!"
Fischer beat Taimanov by the score of 6–0. "The record books showed that the only comparable achievement to the 6–0 score against Taimanov was Wilhelm Steinitz's 7–0 win against Joseph Henry Blackburne in 1876 in an era of more primitive defensive technique." Upon losing the final game of the match, Taimanov shrugged his shoulders, saying sadly to Fischer: "Well, I still have my music."
As a result of his performance, Taimanov "was thrown out of the USSR team and forbidden to travel for two years. He was banned from writing articles, was deprived of his monthly stipend... [and] the authorities prohibited him from performing on the concert platform." "The crushing loss virtually ended Taimanov's chess career."
Fischer was next scheduled to play against Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen. "Spassky predicted a tight struggle: 'Larsen is a little stronger in spirit.'"
Before the match, Botvinnik had told a Soviet television audience:
It is hard to say how their match will end, but it is clear that such an easy victory as in Vancouver [against Taimanov] will not be given to Fischer. I think Larsen has unpleasant surprises in store for him, all the more since having dealt with Taimanov thus, Fischer will want to do just the same to Larsen and this is impossible.
Fischer beat Larsen by the score of 6–0. Robert Byrne writes: "It is out of the question for me to explain how Bobby, how anyone, could win six games in a row from such a genius of the game as Bent Larsen". Just a year before, Larsen had played first board for the Rest of the World team ahead of Fischer, and had handed Fischer his only loss at the Interzonal. Garry Kasparov later wrote that no player had ever shown a superiority over his rivals comparable to Fischer's "incredible" 12–0 score in the two matches. Chess statistician Sonas concludes that the victory over Larsen gave Fischer the "highest single-match performance rating ever".
In August 1971, while preparing for his last Candidates match with former World Champion Tigran Petrosian, Fischer played a strong lightning event at the Manhattan Chess Club, winning with a score of 21½/22.
"Reporters asked Petrosian whether the match would last the full twelve games... 'It might be possible that I win it earlier,' Petrosian replied," and then stated: "Fischer's [nineteen consecutive] wins do not impress me. He is a great chess player but no genius."
Petrosian played a strong theoretical novelty in the first game, gaining the advantage, but Fischer eventually won the game after Petrosian faltered. This gave Fischer a run of 20 consecutive wins against the world's top players (in the Interzonal and Candidates matches), a winning streak topped only by Steinitz's 25 straight wins in 1873–82. Petrosian won the second game, finally snapping Fischer's streak. After three consecutive draws, Fischer swept the next four games to win the match 6½–2½ (+5−1=3). Sports Illustrated ran an article on the match, highlighting Fischer's domination of Petrosian as being due to Petrosian's outdated system of preparation:
Fischer's recent record raises the distinct possibility that he has made a breakthrough in modern chess theory. His response to Petrosian's elaborately plotted 11th move in the first game is an example: Russian experts had worked on the variation for weeks, yet when it was thrown at Fischer suddenly, he faced its consequences alone and won by applying simple, classic principles.
Upon completion of the match, Petrosian remarked: "After the sixth game Fischer really did become a genius. I on the other hand, either had a breakdown or was tired, or something else happened, but the last three games were no longer chess."
Fischer's match results (against Taimanov, Larsen, and Petrosian) led Botvinnik to state: "It is hard to talk about Fischer's matches. Since the time that he has been playing them, miracles have begun." "When Petrosian played like Petrosian, Fischer played like a very strong grandmaster, but when Petrosian began making mistakes, Fischer was transformed into a genius."
1971 Candidates Final score Location Month Fischer–Taimanov 6–0 (+6−0=0) Vancouver May Fischer–Larsen 6–0 (+6−0=0) Denver July Fischer–Petrosian 6½–2½ (+5−1=3) Buenos Aires Sep.–Oct.
Fischer's results gave him a far higher rating than any player in history up to 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 at 2660.
I must warn Spassky that Fischer is armed with all the new ideas in chess. As soon as Fischer gains even the slightest advantage, he begins playing like a machine. You cannot hope for some mistake. Fischer is a quite extraordinary player.
World Championship match
Fischer's career-long stubbornness about match and tournament conditions was again seen in the run-up to his match with Spassky. Of the possible sites, Fischer's first choice was Belgrade, Yugoslavia, while Spassky's was Reykjavík, Iceland. For a time it appeared that the dispute would be resolved by splitting the match between the two locations, but that arrangement fell through. After that issue was resolved, Fischer refused to appear in Iceland until the prize fund was increased. London financier Jim Slater donated an additional US$125,000 to the prize fund, bringing it to an unprecedented $250,000 ($1,267,825 in 2009), and Fischer finally agreed to play.
Before and during the match, Fischer paid special attention to his physical training and fitness, 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 Reykjavík. 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. According to Soviet grandmaster Nikolai Krogius, Fischer "was paying great attention to sport, and that he was swimming and even boxing..."
The match took place in Reykjavík from July through September 1972. Fischer lost the first two games in strange fashion: 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 12½–8½ and become the 11th World Chess Champion.
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 became an instant celebrity. Upon his return to New York, a Bobby Fischer Day was held, and he was cheered by thousands of fans, a unique display in American chess. He was offered numerous product endorsement offers worth "at least $5 million" (all of which he declined) and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. With American Olympic swimming champion Mark Spitz, he also appeared on a Bob Hope TV special. Membership in the U.S. Chess Federation doubled in 1972 and peaked in 1974; in American chess, these years are commonly referred to as the "Fischer Boom". Fischer also won the 'Chess Oscar' award for 1970, 1971, and 1972. This award, started in 1967, is determined through votes from chess media and leading players.
Forfeiture of title
Fischer was scheduled to defend his title in 1975. Anatoly Karpov eventually emerged as his challenger, having defeated Spassky in an earlier Candidates match. Fischer, who had played no competitive games since his World Championship match with Spassky, laid out a proposal for the match in September 1973, in consultation with a FIDE official, Fred Cramer. He made three principal demands:
- The match continues until one player wins 10 games, draws not counting.
- No limit to the total number of games played.
- In case of a 9–9 score, the champion (Fischer) retains the title, and the prize fund is split equally.
A FIDE Congress was held in 1974 during the Nice Olympiad. The delegates voted in favor of Fischer's 10-win proposal, but rejected his other two proposals, and limited the number of games in the match to 36. In response to FIDE's ruling, Fischer sent a cable to Euwe on June 27, 1974:
As I made clear in my telegram to the FIDE delegates, the match conditions I proposed were non-negotiable. Mr. Cramer informs me that the rules of the winner being the first player to win ten games, draws not counting, unlimited number of games and if nine wins to nine match is drawn with champion regaining title and prize fund split equally were rejected by the FIDE delegates. By so doing FIDE has decided against my participation in the 1975 World Chess Championship. Therefore, I resign my FIDE World Chess Championship title. Sincerely, Bobby Fischer.
The delegates responded by reaffirming their prior decisions, but did not accept Fischer's resignation and requested that he reconsider. Many observers considered Fischer's requested 9–9 clause unfair because it would require the challenger to win by at least two games (10–8).
Botvinnik (who had benefited from both draw odds and the right to an automatic rematch while champion) called the 9–9 clause "unsporting". Korchnoi, David Bronstein, and Lev Alburt considered the 9–9 clause reasonable, and Korchnoi and Alburt observed that Karpov, in later securing the right to a rematch if he lost the World Championship, was given a greater advantage by FIDE than Fischer had asked for. Over two matches, Korchnoi was required to beat Karpov by at least 6–5 and 6–5: an aggregate score of +2 and a minimum win requirement +2 greater than Karpov would have needed in 1975. This scenario nearly materialised since the 1978 match was tied 5–5 after 31 games before Karpov won the 32nd game. Korchnoi could in theory have won 6–0 in the first match and lost 5–6 in the second, with an aggregate win total of 11 games to Karpov's 6. Recognising this, FIDE president Euwe proposed that the champion should only have a rematch in the event he lost 5–6 but Karpov rejected this proposal.
In a letter to Larry Evans, published in Chess Life in November 1974, Fischer claimed the usual system (24 games with the first player to get 12½ points winning, or the champion retaining his title in the event of a 12–12 tie) encouraged the player in the lead to draw games, which he regarded as bad for chess. Not counting draws would be "an accurate test of who is the world's best player". Former U.S. Champion Arnold Denker, who was in contact with Fischer during the negotiations with FIDE, claimed that Fischer wanted a long match to be able to play himself into shape after a three-year layoff.
Due to the continued efforts of U.S. Chess Association officials, a special FIDE Congress was held in March 1975 in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands in which it was accepted that the match should be of unlimited duration, but the 9–9 clause was once again rejected, by a narrow margin of 35 votes to 32. FIDE set a deadline of April 1, 1975, for Fischer and Karpov to confirm their participation in the match. No reply was received from Fischer by April 3 and Karpov officially became World Champion by default. In his 1991 autobiography, Karpov expressed profound regret that the match did not take place, and claimed that the lost opportunity to challenge Fischer held back his own chess development. Karpov met with Fischer several times after 1975, in friendly but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to arrange a match.
Brian Carney opined in The Wall Street Journal that Fischer's victory over Spassky in 1972 left him nothing to prove, except that perhaps someone could someday beat him, and he was not interested in the risk of losing. And that Fischer's refusal to recognize peers also allowed his paranoia to flower: "The world championship he won ... validated his view of himself as a chess player, but it also insulated him from the humanizing influences of the world around him. He descended into what can only be considered a kind of madness."
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 1977, he played three games in Cambridge, Massachusetts against the MIT Greenblatt computer program, winning all of them.
On May 26, 1981, a police patrolman arrested Fischer while he was walking in Pasadena, saying that he matched the description of a man who had just committed a bank robbery in that area. Fischer stated that he was slightly injured during the arrest. He was then held for two days and—according to Fischer—was subjected to assault and various other types of serious mistreatment during that time. He was then released on $1000 bail. After being released, Fischer published a 14-page pamphlet detailing his alleged experiences and saying that his arrest had been "a frame up and set up".
In 1981, Bobby Fischer stayed at the home of grandmaster Peter Biyiasas, where he beat Biyiasas 17 straight speed games before Biyiasas finally surrendered. "He was too good," Biyiasas says." In an interview with Sports Illustrated reporter William Nack, Biyiasas elaborated on his seventeen games with Fischer:
He was too good. There was no use in playing him. It wasn't interesting. I was getting beaten, and it wasn't clear to me why. It wasn't like I made this mistake or that mistake. It was like I was being gradually outplayed, from the start. He wasn't taking any time to think. The most depressing thing about it is that I wasn't even getting out of the middle game to an endgame. I don't ever remember an endgame. He honestly believes there is no one for him to play, no one worthy of him. I played him, and I can attest to that. It's not interesting.
1992 Spassky rematch
After twenty years, Fischer emerged from isolation to play Spassky (then tied for 96th–102nd on the FIDE rating list) to a "Revenge Match of the 20th century" in 1992. This match took place in Sveti Stefan and Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in spite of a United Nations embargo that included sanctions on sporting events. Fischer demanded that the organizers bill the match as "The World Chess Championship", although Garry Kasparov was the recognized FIDE World Champion. Fischer insisted he was still the true World Champion, and that for all the games in the FIDE-sanctioned World Championship matches, involving Karpov, Korchnoi, and Kasparov, the outcomes had been pre-arranged. The purse for Fischer's rematch with Spassky was US$5 million, with $3.35 million of that to go to the winner.
[The match games] were of a fairly high quality, particularly when compared with Kasparov's championship matches of 1993, 1995 and 2000, for example. Yet the games also reminded many fans of how out of place Fischer was in 1992. He was still playing the openings of a previous generation. He was, moreover, the only strong player in the world who didn't trust computers and wasn't surrounded by seconds and supplicants.
Fischer won the match, 10 wins to 5 losses, with 15 draws. Kasparov reportedly said, "Bobby is playing OK, nothing more. Maybe his strength is 2600 or 2650. It wouldn't be close between us." Fischer never played any competitive games afterwards.
Fischer and Spassky gave a total of ten press conferences during the match. Yasser Seirawan wrote, "After September 23 , I threw most of what I'd ever read about Bobby out of my head. Sheer garbage. Bobby is the most misunderstood, misquoted celebrity walking the face of the earth." Seirawan wrote that Fischer was not camera shy, smiled and laughed easily, was "a fine wit" and "a wholly enjoyable conversationalist".
The U.S. Department of the Treasury had warned Fischer beforehand that his participation was illegal, as it violated President George H. W. Bush's Executive Order 12810 that implemented United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 sanctions against engaging in economic activities in Yugoslavia. In response, Fischer called a conference and, in front of the international press, spat on the U.S. order forbidding him to play, announcing "This is my reply." Following the match, the Department obtained an arrest warrant against him. Fischer remained wanted by the United States government for the rest of his life and never returned to the U.S.
Life as an émigré
After the match with Spassky in 1992, Fischer again slid into relative obscurity. Now a fugitive from the American legal system, he intensified his vitriolic rhetoric against the U.S. For some of these years Fischer lived in Budapest, Hungary, allegedly having a relationship with young Hungarian chess master Zita Rajcsányi. He claimed to find standard chess stale and he played chess variants such as Chess960 blitz games. He visited with the Polgár family in Budapest and analyzed many games with Judit, Zsuzsa, and Zsófia Polgár.
From 2000 to 2002, Fischer lived in Baguio City in the Philippines. He resided in the same compound as the Filipino grandmaster Eugenio Torre, a close friend who acted as his second during his 1992 match with Spassky. Torre introduced Fischer to a 22-year-old woman named Marilyn Young. On May 21, 2001 Marilyn Young gave birth to a daughter named Jinky Young. Her mother claimed that Jinky was Fischer's daughter, citing as evidence Jinky's birth and baptismal certificates, photographs, a transaction record dated December 4, 2007 of a bank remittance by Fischer to Jinky, and Jinky's DNA through her blood samples. On the other hand, Magnús Skúlason, a friend of Fischer's, said that he was certain that Fischer was not the girl's father.
In 2001, Nigel Short wrote in The Sunday Telegraph chess column that he believed he had been secretly playing Fischer on the online chess platform Internet Chess Club in speed chess matches. Short later retracted the claim after Fischer himself denied ownership of the account.
Fischer, whose mother was Jewish, and whose possible biological father was also Jewish, made numerous anti-Jewish statements and professed a general hatred for Jews since at least the early 1960s. Jan Hein Donner wrote that at the time of Bled 1961, "He idolized Hitler and read everything about him that he could lay his hands on. He also championed a brand of anti-semitism that could only be thought up by a mind completely cut off from reality." Donner writes that he took Fischer to a war museum, which "left a great impression, since he is not an evil person, and afterwards he was more restrained in his remarks—to me, at least."
From the 1980s and thereafter, however, Fischer's comments about Jews were a major theme in his public and private remarks. He openly denied the Holocaust, and called the United States "a farce controlled by dirty, hook-nosed, circumcised Jew bastards".
Although Fischer described his mother as Jewish in an article he wrote as a teenager, he later denied his Jewish ancestry. In 1984, Fischer denied being a Jew in a letter to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, insisting that they remove his name and accusing them of "fraudulently misrepresenting me to be a Jew [...] to promote your religion".
Between 1999 and 2006, Fischer's primary means of communicating with the public was radio interviews. He participated in at least 34 such broadcasts, mostly with radio stations in the Philippines, but also in Hungary, Iceland, Colombia, and Russia. In 1999, he gave a radio call-in interview to a station in Budapest, Hungary, during which he described himself as the "victim of an international Jewish conspiracy". In another radio interview, Fischer said that it became clear to him in 1977, after reading The Secret World Government by Count Cherep-Spiridovich, that Jewish agencies were targeting him. Fischer's sudden reemergence was apparently triggered when some of his belongings, which had been stored in a Pasadena, California storage unit, were sold by the landlord who claimed it was in response to nonpayment of rent. In 2005, some of Fischer's belongings were auctioned on eBay. In 2006, Fischer claimed that his belongings in the storage unit were worth millions of U.S. dollars.
Fischer's library contained anti-semitic and white supremacist literature such as Mein Kampf, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and The White Man's Bible and Nature's Eternal Religion by Ben Klassen, founder of the Church of the Creator. A notebook written by Fischer is filled with sentiments such as "8/24/99 Death to the Jews. Just kill the Motherfuckers!" and "12/13/99 It's time to start randomly killing Jews."
Anti-American and anti-Israel statements
Shortly after midnight on September 12, 2001, Philippines local time (approximately four hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.), Fischer was interviewed live by Pablo Mercado on the Baguio City station of the Bombo Radyo network. Fischer stated that he was happy that the airliner attacks had happened, while expressing his view on U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, saying "I applaud the act. Look, nobody gets...no one...that the U.S. and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years". He also said "All the crimes the U.S. is committing all over the world ... This just shows, what goes around, that comes around even to the United States." Fischer also referenced the movie Seven Days in May and said he hoped for a military coup d'état in the U.S., "[I hope] the country will be taken over by the military, they'll close down all the synagogues, arrest all the Jews, execute hundreds of thousands of Jewish ringleaders."
Dear Mr. Osama bin Laden allow me to introduce myself. I am Bobby Fischer, the World Chess Champion. First of all you should know that I share your hatred of the murderous bandit state of "Israel" and its chief backer the Jew-controlled U.S.A. also know [sic] as the "Jewnited States" or "Israel West." We also have something else in common: We are both fugitives from the U.S. "justice" system.
After Fischer's death, chess columnist Shelby Lyman said that "the anti-American stuff is explained by the fact that ... he spent the rest of his life [after the match in Yugoslavia] fleeing the U.S., because he was afraid of being extradited." In Bobby Fischer: The Wandering King, authors IM Hans Böhm and Kees Jongkind write that Fischer's radio broadcasts show that he was "out of his mind ... a victim of his own mental illness".
Detention in Japan
Fischer lived for a time in Japan. On July 13, 2004, acting in response to a letter from U.S. officials, he was arrested by Japanese immigration authorities at Narita International Airport near Tokyo for allegedly using a revoked U.S. passport while trying to board a Japan Airlines flight to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines. Fischer resisted arrest, claiming to have sustained bruises, cuts and a broken tooth in the process. At the time, Fischer had a passport, originally issued in 1997 and updated in 2003 to add more pages, that according to U.S. officials had been revoked in November 2003 (due to his outstanding arrest warrant for Yugoslavia sanctions violation). Despite the outstanding arrest warrant in the U.S., Fischer said that he believed the passport was still valid. The authorities held Fischer at a custody center for 16 days before transferring him to another facility. Fischer claimed that his cell was windowless and he had not seen the light of day during that period, and that the staff had ignored his complaints about constant tobacco smoke in his cell.
Tokyo-based Canadian journalist and consultant John Bosnitch set up the "Committee to Free Bobby Fischer" after meeting Fischer at Narita Airport and offering to assist him. It was reported that Fischer and Miyoko Watai, the President of the Japanese Chess Association, with whom he had reportedly been living since 2000, wanted to become legally married. (It was also reported that Fischer had been living in the Philippines with Marilyn Young during the same period.) Fischer also applied for German citizenship on the grounds that his father was German. Fischer stated that he wanted to renounce his U.S. citizenship, and appealed to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to help him do so, though to no effect. Japan's Justice Minister rejected Fischer's request for asylum and ordered him deported.
Asylum in Iceland
Seeking ways to evade deportation to the United States, Fischer wrote a letter to the government of Iceland in early January 2005 and asked for Icelandic citizenship. Sympathetic to Fischer's plight, but reluctant to grant him the full benefits of citizenship, Icelandic authorities granted him an alien's passport. When this proved insufficient for the Japanese authorities, the Althing agreed unanimously to grant Fischer full citizenship in late March for humanitarian reasons, as they felt he was being unjustly treated by the U.S. and Japanese governments, and also in recognition of his 1972 match, which had "put Iceland on the map".
Shortly before his departure to Iceland, on March 23, 2005, Fischer and Bosnitch appeared briefly on the BBC World Service, via a telephone link to the Tokyo airport. Bosnitch stated that Fischer would never play traditional chess again. Fischer denounced President Bush as a criminal and Japan as a puppet of the United States.
Upon his arrival in Reykjavík, Fischer was welcomed by a crowd and gave a news conference. He lived a reclusive life in Iceland, avoiding entrepreneurs and others who approached him with various proposals.
Fischer moved into an apartment in the same building as his closest friend and spokesman, Garðar Sverrisson. Sverrisson's wife, Kristín Þórarinsdóttir, was a nurse and later looked after Fischer as a terminally ill patient. Garðar's two children, especially his son, were very close to Fischer.
Fischer also developed a friendship with Magnús Skúlason, a psychiatrist and chess player who later recalled long discussions with Fischer about a wide variety of subjects.
Death, estate dispute, and exhumation
On January 17, 2008, Fischer died from degenerative renal failure at the Reykjavík hospital. He originally had a urinary tract blockage but refused surgery or medications. Magnús Skúlason reported Fischer's last words as "Nothing is as healing as the human touch." On January 21, he was buried in the small Christian cemetery of Laugardælir church, outside the town of Selfoss, 60 km southeast of Reykjavík, after a Catholic funeral presided over by Fr. Jakob Rolland of the diocese of Reykjavík. In accordance with Fischer's wishes, no one else was present except Miyoko Watai, Garðar Sverrisson, and Garðar's family.
Fischer's estate was estimated at 140 million ISK (about 1 million GBP or US$2 million) and it quickly became the object of a legal battle involving claims from four parties with Miyoko Watai ultimately inheriting what remained of his estate after government claims. The four parties were Fischer's apparent Japanese wife Miyoko Watai, his alleged Philippine daughter Jinky Young and her mother Marilyn Young, his two American nephews Alexander and Nicholas Targ and their father Russell Targ, and the U.S. government (claiming unpaid taxes). According to a press release issued by Samuel Estimo, an attorney representing Jinky Young, the Supreme Court of Iceland ruled in December 2009 that Watai's claim of marriage to Fischer was invalidated because of her failure to present the original copy of their alleged marriage certificate. On June 16, 2010, the Court ruled in favor of a petition on behalf of Jinky Young to have Bobby Fischer's remains exhumed. This was performed on July 5, 2010 in the presence of a doctor, a priest, and other officials. A DNA sample was taken and Fischer's body was then reburied. On August 17, 2010, the Court announced that from the DNA sample it was determined that Fischer was not the father of Jinky Young. On March 3, 2011, a district court in Iceland ruled that Miyoko Watai and Fischer had married on September 6, 2004, and that as Fischer's widow and heir, Watai was therefore entitled to inherit his estate. Fischer's nephews were ordered to pay ISK 6.6 million (approximately $57,000) in Watai's legal costs for the dispute.
Contributions to chess
|This section uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
Fischer was predictable in his use of openings and variations of those openings, but it was still difficult for opponents to exploit this limitation because his knowledge of them was so deep. As Black, he would usually play the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian defense against 1. e4 and the King's Indian Defense against 1. d4, only rarely venturing into the Nimzo-Indian Defense (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4). As White, Fischer opened with 1. e4 almost exclusively throughout his career. On occasion he would open with 1. Nf3 or 1. d4, but these were rarities. He was a master of the Sicilian from both sides of the board and won many games as White with 1. e4 c5. The next most common defense against his 1. e4 was the Caro-Kann Defense (1. e4 c6), to which Fischer had a good record. His worst record was against the French Defense (1. e4 e6), and especially the Winawer Variation (1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4). For most of his career he maintained that the Winawer was unsound because it exposed Black's kingside, and that, in his view, "Black was trading off his good bishop with 3...Bb4 and ...Bxc3." Later on Fischer said: "I may yet be forced to admit that the Winawer is sound. But I doubt it! The defense is anti-positional and weakens the K-side."
Fischer was renowned for his deep opening preparation and made numerous contributions to chess opening theory. He was one of the foremost experts on the Ruy Lopez. A line of the Exchange Variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0) is sometimes called the "Fischer Variation" after he successfully resurrected it at the 1966 Havana Olympiad. Fischer's lifetime score with the move 5.0-0 in tournament and match games was six wins, three draws, and no losses (83.3%).
He was a recognized expert in the black side of the Najdorf Sicilian and the King's Indian Defense. He used the Grünfeld Defence and Neo-Grünfeld Defence to win his celebrated games against Donald and Robert Byrne, and played a theoretical novelty in the Grünfeld against reigning World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik, refuting Botvinnik's prepared analysis over-the-board. In the Nimzo-Indian Defense, the line beginning with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Ne2 Ba6 was named for him.
Fischer established the viability of the so-called Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Najdorf Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6). This bold queen sortie, to snatch a pawn at the expense of development, had been considered dubious, but Fischer succeeded in proving its soundness. Out of ten tournament and match games as Black in the Poisoned Pawn, Fischer won five, drew four, and lost only one, the 11th game of his 1972 match against Spassky. Following Fischer's use, the Poisoned Pawn became a respected line played by many of the world's leading players.
On the white side of the Sicilian, Fischer made advances to the theory of the line beginning 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 (or e6) 6.Bc4, which has sometimes been named for him. In 1961, prompted by a loss the year before to Spassky, Fischer wrote an article entitled "A Bust to the King's Gambit" for the first issue of the American Chess Quarterly, in which he stated, "In my opinion, the King's Gambit is busted. It loses by force." Fischer recommended 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6, which has since become known as the Fischer Defense to the King's Gambit. Fischer later played the King's Gambit as White in three tournament games, preferring 3.Bc4 to 3.Nf3, winning them all.
Fischer had an excellent endgame technique. International Master Jeremy Silman listed him as one of the five best endgame players, along with Emanuel Lasker, Akiba Rubinstein, José Capablanca, and Vasily Smyslov. Silman called him a "master of bishop endings".
The endgame of a rook, bishop, and pawns against a rook, knight, and pawns has sometimes been called the "Fischer Endgame" because of several instructive wins by Fischer (with the bishop), including three against Mark Taimanov in 1970 and 1971. One of the games was in the 1970 Interzonal and the other two were in their 1971 quarter-final candidates match.
In 1988, Fischer filed for U.S. Patent 4,884,255 for a new type of digital chess clock. Fischer's clock gave each player a fixed period of time at the start of the game and then added a small increment after each completed move. The "Fischer clock" soon became standard in most major chess tournaments. The patent expired in November 2001 because of overdue maintenance fees.
On June 19, 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fischer announced and advocated a variant of chess named Fischerandom Chess (later known as Chess960) intended to ensure that a game between players is a contest between their understandings of chess, rather than their abilities to memorize opening lines or prepare opening strategies.
Fischerandom was designed to remove any advantage from the memorization of opening variations by rendering it impracticable. Fischer complained in a 2006 phoned-in call with a radio interviewer that because of the progress in openings and the memorization of opening books, the best players from history, if brought back from the dead to play today, would no longer be competitive. "Some kid of fourteen today, or even younger, could get an opening advantage against Capablanca", he said, merely because of opening-book memorization, which Fischer disdained. "Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorization and prearrangement. It's a terrible game now. Very uncreative." Fischer heavily disparaged chess as it was currently being played at the highest levels.
Kasparov calls Fischer "perhaps the most mythologically shrouded figure in chess". Some leading players and some of Fischer's biographers have ranked him as the greatest player who ever lived. Other writers have said that he was arguably the greatest player ever, without reaching a definitive conclusion. Leonard Barden wrote, "Most experts place him the second or third best ever, behind Kasparov but probably ahead of Karpov."
"Referring to the future chess computer, Jim Sherwin [aka: James Sherwin], an American [chess] player who knew Fischer well, described him as 'a prototype Deep Blue.' The Soviet analysis showed that even when faced with an unexpected position, Fischer took not longer than fifteen or twenty minutes to make his move; other grandmasters might take twice as long. Nor did Fischer appear to be governed by any psychologically predetermined system or technique."
Although international ratings were just introduced in 1970, Chessmetrics has used algorithms to rank performances retrospectively and uniformly throughout chess history. According to Chessmetrics, Fischer's peak rating was 2895 in October 1971—the highest in history. His one-year peak average was 2881, in 1971, the highest of all time. His three-year peak average was 2867, from January 1971 to December 1973—the second highest ever, just behind Garry Kasparov. Chessmetrics ranked Fischer as the number one player in the world for a total of 109 different months, running (not consecutively) from February 1964 until July 1974.
Fischer's great rival Mikhail Tal praised him as "the greatest genius to have descended from the chess heavens". American grandmaster Arthur Bisguier wrote "Robert James Fischer is one of the few people in any sphere of endeavour who has been accorded the accolade of being called a legend in his own time."
Fischer biographers David Edmonds and John Eidinow wrote:
Faced with Fischer's extraordinary coolness, his opponents [sic] assurance would begin to disintegrate. A Fischer move, which at first glances looked weak, would be reassessed. It must have a deep master plan behind it, undetectable by mere mortals (more often than not they were right, it did). The U.S. grandmaster Robert Byrne labeled the phenomenon "Fischer-fear." Grandmasters would wilt, their suits would crumple, sweat would glisten on their brows, panic would overwhelm their nervous systems. Errors would creep in. Calculations would go awry. There was talk among grandmasters that Fischer hypnotized his opponents, that he undermined their intellectual powers with a dark, mystic, insidious force.
Kasparov wrote that Fischer "became the detonator of an avalanche of new chess ideas, a revolutionary whose revolution is still in progress." In January 2009, reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand described him as "the greatest chess player who ever lived. He was a very special person, and I was fortunate to meet him two years ago." Serbian grandmaster Ljubomir Ljubojević called Fischer, "A man without frontiers. He didn't divide the East and the West, he brought them together in their admiration of him."
Fischer, who had taken the highest crown almost singlehandedly from the mighty, almost invincible Soviet chess empire, shook the whole world, not only the chess world, to its core. He started a chess boom not only in the United States and in the Western hemisphere, but worldwide. Teaching chess or playing chess as a career had truly become a respectable profession. After Bobby, the game was simply not the same.
Fischer was a charter inductee into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. in 1985. After routing Taimanov, Larsen, and Petrosian in 1971, Fischer achieved a then-record Elo rating of 2785. After beating Spassky by the score 12½–8½ in their 1972 match, his rating dropped to 2780.
St. Louis philanthropist Rex Sinquefield offered a $64,000 Fischer Memorial Prize for any player who could win all nine of their games at the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship. By the fifth day of the championship, all 24 participants became ineligible for the prize, having drawn or lost at least one game.
In popular culture
- The musical Chess, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, tells the story of two chess champions, referred to only as "The American" and "The Russian". The musical is loosely based on the 1972 World Championship match between Fischer and Spassky.
- During the 1972 Fischer–Spassky match, the Soviet bard Vladimir Vysotsky wrote an ironic two-song cycle "Honor of the Chess Crown". The first song is about a rank-and-file Soviet worker's preparation for the match with Fischer; the second is about the game. Many expressions from the songs have become catchphrases in Russian culture.
- The 1993 film Searching for Bobby Fischer uses Fischer's name in the title even though the film is actually about the life of Joshua Waitzkin. Outside of the United States, it was released as Innocent Moves. The title refers to the search for Fischer's successor after his disappearance from competitive chess, and for a talent like Fischer's in the author's chess-playing son. Fischer never saw the film and complained bitterly that it was an invasion of his privacy by using his name without his permission. Fischer never received any compensation from the film, calling it "a monumental swindle".
- Bobby Fischer is mentioned in Milan Kundera's novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
- A 2005 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, "Gone" is based on Bobby Fischer.
- Bobby Fischer's Games of Chess (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1959). ISBN 0-923891-46-3. An early collection of 34 lightly annotated games including the "Game of the Century" against Donald Byrne.
- "A Bust to the King's Gambit" (American Chess Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 1961), pp. 3–9).
- "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess" (Sports Illustrated magazine, August 1962). This is the controversial article in which Fischer asserted that several of the Soviet players in the 1962 Curaçao Candidates' tournament had colluded with one another.
- "The Ten Greatest Masters in History" (Chessworld, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January–February 1964), pp. 56–61). An article in which Fischer named Paul Morphy, Howard Staunton, Wilhelm Steinitz, Siegbert Tarrasch, Mikhail Chigorin, Alexander Alekhine, José Raúl Capablanca, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal, and Samuel Reshevsky as the best players of all time.
- "Checkmate" column from December 1966 to December 1969 in Boys' Life, assumed later by Larry Evans.
- My 60 Memorable Games (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1969, and Faber and Faber, London, 1969; Batsford 2008 (algebraic notation)). "A classic of painstaking and objective analysis that modestly includes three of his losses."
- I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse! (1982) pamphlet.
Under Fischer's name
There have been numerous books, in many languages, that list Fischer as the author or as endorsing the book. One of these is the 1972 book Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess with Donn Mosenfelder and Stuart Margulies. The book uses programmed learning to help beginners learn how to see elementary chess combinations. Although Fischer allowed his name to be used, he had little involvement with the writing of the book.
Tournament and match summaries
|1955||U.S. Junior Championship||Lincoln||2||6||2||10–20||50%|
|1956||U.S. Amateur Championship||New Jersey||3||2||1||21||57%|
|1956||U.S. Junior Championship||Philadelphia||8||1||1||1||85%|
|1956||U.S. Open||Oklahoma City||5||7||0||4–8||71%|
|1956||Rosenwald Trophy||New York||2||5||4||8–10||41%|
|1956||Eastern States Open||Washington, D.C.||4||3||0||2–4||79%|
|1956||Manhattan Club Championship, semifinals||New York||2||1||2||4||50%|
|1957||Log Cabin Open||West Orange||4||0||2||6||67%|
|1957||Log Cabin 30–30||West Orange||3||2||0||unknown||80%|
|1957||Log Cabin 50–50||West Orange||0||0||0||unknown||?|
|1957||Metropolitan League||New York||1||0||0||unknown||100%|
|1957||New Western Open||Milwaukee||5||2||1||6–12||75%|
|1957||U.S. Junior Open Championship||San Francisco||8||1||0||1||94%|
|1957||New Jersey State Open||East Orange||6||1||0||1||93%|
|1957||North Central Open||Milwaukee||4||2||1||5–11||71%|
|1957||U.S. Championship||New York||8||5||0||1||81%|
|1958||U.S. Championship||New York||6||5||0||1||77%|
|1959||Mar del Plata||8||4||1||3–4||71%|
|1959||U.S. Championship||New York||7||4||0||1||82%|
|1960||Mar del Plata||13||1||1||1–2||90%|
|1960||U.S. Championship||New York||7||4||0||1||82%|
|1962||U.S. Championship||New York||6||4||1||1||73%|
|1963||Western Open||Bay City||7||1||0||1||94%|
|1963||New York State Open||Poughkeepsie||7||0||0||1||100%|
|1963||U.S. Championship||New York||11||0||0||1||100%|
|1965||U.S. Championship||New York||8||1||2||1||77%|
|1966||Piatigorsky Cup||Santa Monica||7||8||3||2||61%|
|1966||U.S. Championship||New York||8||3||0||1||86%|
|1968||Metropolitan League||New York||1||0||0||unknown||100%|
|1970||Interzonal||Palma de Mallorca||15||7||1||1||80%|
|1957||Max Euwe||New York||match||0||1||1||lost||25%|
|1957||Dan Jacobo Beninson||New York||training match||?||?||0||won||70%|
|1957||Rodolfo Tan Cardoso||New York||match||5||2||1||won||75%|
|1958||Dragoljub Janošević||Belgrade||training match||0||2||0||tied||50%|
|1961||Samuel Reshevsky||New York & Los Angeles||match||2||7||2||unfinished||50%|
|1971||Tigran Petrosian||Buenos Aires||Candidates||5||3||1||won||72%|
|1972||Boris Spassky||Reykjavík||World Championship||7||11||3||won||63%|
|1992||Boris Spassky||Sveti Stefan & Belgrade||match||10||15||5||won||58%|
|Year||Event||Location||Wins||Draws||Losses||Opponent||Board||Individual ranking||team ranking||Individual Percentage|
|1970||USSR vs World||Belgrade||2||2||0||Tigran Petrosian||2||won individual match||team lost||75%|
- Donald Byrne–Fischer, New York 1956, Grünfeld, 5.Bf4 (D92), 0–1 "The Game of the Century". At just 13 years old, Fischer played in a bold tactical style.
- Robert Byrne–Fischer, 1963–64 U.S. Championship, Neo-Grünfeld 0–1 annotated From an almost symmetrical position, Fischer as Black beats a strong grandmaster in just 21 moves—"a game that was immediately recognized as an all-time classic".
- Fischer–Tigran Petrosian, Buenos Aires Candidates Final 1971, 7th match game, Sicilian Defense: Kan. Modern Variation (B42), 1–0 Even Petrosian, the master of defense, was not able to bear the pressure of Fischer's rooks.
- Fischer–Boris Spassky, World Championship 1972, 6th match game, Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (D59), 1–0 One of the most admired and important games of the match.
- Boris Spassky-Fischer, World Championship 1972, 13th match game, Alekhine Defense: Modern, Alburt Variation (B04), 0-1 Botvinnik called this game "the highest creative achievement of Fischer". He resolved a drawish opposite-colored bishops endgame by sacrificing his bishop and trapping his own rook. "Then five passed pawns struggled with the white rook. Nothing similar had been seen before in chess".
- Müller 2009, p. 23.
- Brady 2011, p. 328.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 48.
- Donaldson, John;Tangborn,Eric (1999). The Unknown Bobby Fischer. International Chess Enterprises. p. 170. ISBN 1-879479-85-0.
- "Bobby Fischer arrives in Iceland". British Broadcasting Corporation. March 25, 2005. Retrieved September 13, 2008.
- "Question of Yugoslavia (1992)". Ozone Secretariat. 2004. Retrieved September 13, 2008.
- "General Assembly". United Nations. December 21, 1993. Retrieved September 13, 2008.
- "At the beginning of the 21st century, grandmasters have been slowly but surely expressing interest in Fischerandom Chess." Gligorić 2002, p. 132
- "Asia-Pacific | Iceland grants Fischer passport". BBC News. March 21, 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- Batty, David (January 18, 2008). "Chess champion Bobby Fischer dies". London: The Guardian. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
- Brady 1973, p. 2.
- Chess Life 59 (United States Chess Federation): 214. 2004.
- Ancestry of Bobby Fischer
- Quinn, Ben; Alan Hamilton (January 28, 2008). "Bobby Fischer, chess genius, heartless son". London: The Times. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
- Schulz, Von André (October 8, 2004). "Mutmaßungen über Fischer" (in German). Retrieved October 17, 2008.
- Brady 2011, pp. 7-8.
- Nicholas, Peter (September 21, 2009). "Chasing the king of chess". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Nicholas, Peter, and Clea Benson. Files reveal how FBI hounded chess king. Philadelphia Inquirer. November 17, 2002
- Nicholas, Peter, and Clea Benson. Life is not a Board Game. The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 8, 2003
- Laurence, Charles (November 24, 2002). "FBI targeted chess genius Bobby Fischer and his mother". London: www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved September 13, 2008.
- Regina Fischer entry, passenger manifest, SS Manhattan, January 18, 1939, p. 74, line 6, accessed January 20, 2008 via ancestry.com
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 22.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 22, 135.
- Arthur Bisguier, in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 43.
- Brady 1973, pp. 4–5.
- Brady 2011, pp. 10–12.
- Brady 1973, p. 5.
- Fischer 1959, p. xi.
- Brady 1973, pp. 5–6.
- Fischer 1959, pp. xi–xii.
- Brady 1973, p. 7.
- Brady 2011, pp. 19–20.
- Fischer 1959, p. xii.
- Brady 2011, pp. 38–39.
- Brady 2011, p. 52.
- "Carmine Nigro, 91, Bobby Fischer's First Chess Teacher". The New York Times. September 2, 2001. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
- Lombardy 2011, p. 18.
- West, Jim (2011-11-22). ""Understanding Chess" by GM Lombardy, Chess Blog by National Master Jim West". jimwestonchess.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Lombardy 2011, p. 136.
- Lombardy 2011, p. 23.
- Lombardy 2011, p. 297.
- "...I met and spent time with Grandmaster William Lombardy, who of course figured so prominently in Bobby Fischer's rise to the World Chess title." Ponterotto 2012, p. xx.
- "On the very morning Fischer was to depart [for Reykjavik], he called Lombardy on the phone. 'Well, are you coming?' he inquired of the priest. Lombardy told him he wasn't sure he could release himself from his television commitments. 'Without me, there won't be a television show!' he informed Bobby. 'That's O.K.,' countered Bobby, 'without me, there won't be a match!' When Fischer's plane touched down at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, a mere five hours before the forfeiture deadline, Lombardy, dressed in his clericals, was by his side." Brady 1973, p. 234.
- Brady 2011, pp. 98–100.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 26.
- Brady 2011, p. 102.
- Alexander 1972, p. 79.
- Brady 2011, p. 184.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 43, and 133.
- "[Lombardy] was a loyal and competent analyst of adjourned positions for Fischer, and served him well as friend and companion." Brady 1973, p. 225.
- "Fischer and Lombardy had breakfast at the Loftleider Hotel cafeteria. They sat at their table for over two hours, analyzing the twelfth game." Brady 1973, p. 253.
- "Fischer lodged a formal protest [over the second-game-forfeit] less than six hours after the forfeiture. It was overruled by the match committee... Everyone knew that Fischer wouldn't accept it lightly. And he didn't. His instant reaction was to make a reservation to fly home immediately. He was dissuaded by Lombardy, but it seemed likely that he'd refuse to continue the match unless the forfeit was removed." Brady 2011, p. 193.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 156, 160, 171, 175, and 223.
- Dylan Loeb McClain (2001-12-04). "John W. Collins, 89, Dies; Was Fischer's Chess Tutor". New York Times.
- Brady 1973, p. 12.
- Brady, 2011, p. 50
- "'He taught Bobby Fischer to play chess'" is the way I am sometimes publicly and privately introduced. Collins 1974, p. 47.
- "Collins, for his part, said that he never "taught" Bobby in the strictest sense," and that Fischer "knew before instructed." Collins 1974, pp. 48-49. quoted in Brady 2011, p. 52.
- Collins was Bobby Fischer's "mentor". Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 6, 30, and 221.
- Collins was Fischer's "mentor". Donaldson & Tangborn 1999, p. 27.
- "Collins was my friend and mentor but not my teacher". Lombardy 2011, p. 24.
- "Fischer was also extremely fortunate in having John W. (Jack) Collins, a chess master, who was a friend, guide, and mentor to him during his early formative years". Bisguier in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 44.
- Fischer 1959, p. xiii.
- Brady 1973, pp. 10–11.
- Collins 1974, pp. 34–35.
- Denker & Parr 1995, p. 107.
- Brady 2011, p. 53.
- Chess Life, May 20, 1956, p. 4. Also available on DVD (p. 76 in "Chess Life 1956" PDF file").
- Chess Life, May 20, 1956, p. 1. Also available on DVD (p. 73 in "Chess Life 1956" PDF file").
- Brady 1973, p. 15.
- Collins 1974, pp. 55–56.
- The New York Times, March 5, 1956, p. 36. Quoted in Brady 2011, p. 49.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 100.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 101.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 105.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 76.
- Brady 1973, p. 16.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 108.
- Chess Review, December 1956, p. 374. Also available on DVD (p. 418 on Chess Review 1956 PDF file).
- Brady 2011, p. 64.
- AP wire story, February 24, 1957. Quoted in Brady 2011, p. 64.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 123.
- Brady 1973, p. 17.
- Chess Life, May 5, 1957, p. 3. Also available on DVD (p. 67 in "Chess Life 1957" PDF file").
- Wall, Bill (2002–2008). "Bobby Fischer Trivia". Chessville.com. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 127.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 130.
- Collins 1974, p. 56.
- Chess Review, September 1957, p. 260. Also available on DVD (p. 294 in "Chess Review 1957" PDF file).
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 138–40.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 135–37.
- Brady 1973, p. 19.
- Harkness 1967, p. 272.
- Brady 1973, p. 20.
- Kažić 1974, pp. 273–74.
- Lombardy 2011, back cover.
- A writer in Chess Life, apparently Editor Fred M. Wren, expected Fischer to score about 50%. "The Monday-Morning Quarterback Speaks", Chess Life, January 20. 1958, p. 4. Also available on DVD (p. 12 on Chess Life 1958 PDF file).
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 51.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 196.
- Brady 1973, pp. 20–21.
- In 2005, at age 16, Hikaru Nakamura became the youngest champion since Fischer. John Donaldson and John Watson, "Nakamura, Goletiani Soar to the Top at the U.S. Championship", Chess Life, February 2005, p. 9; Macauley Peterson, "Nakamura Claims U.S. Championship!", Chess Life, July 2009, p. 35. The champions since then—Alexander Onischuk, Alexander Shabalov, Yuri Shulman, Nakamura himself in 2009, and Gata Kamsky—have all been older.
- Edward Winter, Chess Note 6428 (citing Chess Life, February 5, 1958).
- Edward Winter, Chess Note 6436 (citing FIDE Revue, April 1958, p. 106).
- Chess Life, March 5, 1958. Quoted in Müller 2009, p. 92.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 8.
- Brady 2011, pp. 89–90.
- Marshall Chess Foundation Archive, Letter from Regina Fischer to Bobby Fischer, c. June 1958. Quoted in Brady 2011, p. 93.
- Brady 2011, p. 91.
- Brady 2011, p. 92.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 9.
- Linder V.I. & Linder I.M. 1994. Quoted in Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 120–121.
- Golombek, Golombek's Encyclopedia, pp. 236–237. Quoted in Brady 2011, p. 93.
- Brady 2011, p. 94.
- Johnson 2007, p. 128. Quoted in Brady 2011, p. 94.
- Brady 2011, pp. 94–96.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, pp. 163–64.
- Brady 1973, p. 25.
- Leonard Barden, "From Portorož to Petrosian", in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 332.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972. pp. 332–34, 347.
- Kasparov 2004, pp. 225–26.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 20-21.
- Forbes 1992, p. 171.
- Interview with Allen Kaufman in the television documentary "Anything to Win: The Mad Genius of Bobby Fischer". April 9, 2006.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 301.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 340.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 356.
- Brady 1973, p. 28.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, pp. 165, 171, 176.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 27.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 29–30.
- The Chess Games of Robert J. Fischer, edited by Robert G. Wade and Kevin J. O'Connell, London, Batsford 1973; special article by Paul Keres, entitled From the Opposite Side of the Board
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 41.
- Brady 1965, p. 34.
- Denker & Parr, pp. 103–04 .
- Brady 1965, p. 35.
- "At 16 he was able to earn his living from chess, and soon began to dress well, with suits tailored in London and New York." Hooper & Whyld 1992, p. 136.
- Ginzburg 1962, pp. 53–54.
- Di Felice 2010, p. 310.
- Wade & 'Connell 1972, p. 356.
- Andersen 2006, pp. 15, 41. Streisand later said that Fischer was "always alone and very peculiar ... But I found him very sexy". Id. at 41.
- Boyer, David (March 11, 2001). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: FLATBUSH; Grads Hail Erasmus as It Enters a Fourth Century". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
- Brady 1965, p. 1, 25.
- Collins 1974, p. 52.
- Arthur Bisguier, in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 47.
- Brady 1965, p. 25.
- Ginzburg 1962, p. 51.
- Quinn, Ben; Hamilton, Alan (January 28, 2008). "Bobby Fischer, chess genius, heartless son". London: Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Ginzburg 1962, p. 55.
- Nicholas, Peter; Benson, Clea (February 9, 2003). "Life is not a board game/page 3 of 7". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
- Bisguier & Soltis 1974, pp. 282–84.
- Hooper & Whyld 1992, pp. 136–37.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 51 (1-point margin in 1957–58), 57 (1-point margin in 1958–59), 62 (1-point margin in 1959–60), 67 (2-point margin in 1960–61), 71 (1-point margin in 1962–63), 77 (2½-point margin in 1963–64), 82 (1-point margin in 1965–66), 87 (2-point margin in 1966–67).
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 51, 57, 62, 67, 71, 76, 82, 87.
- Müller 2009, pp. 399-400.
- Müller 2009, p. 85.
- Müller 2009, p. 104.
- Müller 2009, p. 148.
- Müller 2009, p. 181.
- Müller 2009, p. 231.
- Müller 2009, p. 243.
- Müller 2009, p. 262.
- Müller 2009, p. 263.
- Müller 2009, p. 285.
- Bisguier & Soltis 1974, p. 283.
- Mednis 1997, pp. x–xi, 179–83, 202–11.
- Larry Evans in Müller 2009, p. 7.
- The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Batsford, 1973, section on chess Olympiads by Robert Wade
- Kažić 1974, pp. 75, 81, 94, 108.
- "Fischer, Robert James". Wojciech Bartelski & Co. 2003–2008.
- Müller 2009, pp. 276–77.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 286–87.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 335. Petrosian later wrote:
It was not only Fischer who did not like the conditions. This also applied to me and my colleagues. Imagine a hall, in which three thousand players, trainers and spectators are gathered, a hall without any ventilation and in addition with poor lighting. I have never complained about my eyesight, but I only needed once or twice in a game to think intensively over a move, and my eyes began to hurt.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 183.
- Bronstein wrote of their first meeting at Mar del Plata, "They became friends instantly and have remained so until this day." Bronstein & Fürstenberg 2009, p. 149.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 189.
- Donner 2006, p. 228.
- Benko & Silman 2003, p. 422 (interview with Evans).
- Donner writes of Fischer's performance at Buenos Aires 1960, "One of his rivals in that tournament was American grandmaster Larry Evans, and the story goes that he found a Bovaryan lady prepared for a small sum to surround Fischer with her charms. This approach proved successful for Evans, as Fischer finished thirteenth in the tournament—the only real debacle he ever suffered." Donner 2006, p. 228.
- Benko & Silman, pp. 426–27 (interview with Benko).
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, pp. 196–197.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 198.
- Brady 1973, p. 42.
- Brady 1973, pp. 43–46.
- Brady 1973, p. 46.
- Di Felice 2013a, p. 17.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 199.
- Di Felice 2013a, p. 223.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 369.
- Brady 1973, p. 51.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 81.
- Brady 1973, pp. 53–54.
- Obituary, Bobby Fischer. Leonard Barden, The Guardian, January 19, 2008.
- Kažić 1974, pp. 188–89.
- Benko & Silman, p. 155.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 29–30, 37, 40, 83.
- "Victim of His Own Success: The Tragedy of Bobby Fischer", Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2008, p. D8.
- Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a Chess World Champion, by Anatoly Karpov, London, Atheneum 1991
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, pp. 331–46.
- "Victim of His Own Success: The Tragedy of Bobby Fischer", Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2008, p.D8
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, pp. 207–08.
- Bisguier in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 49.
- Ginzburg 1962, p. 54.
- "Portrait of a Genius As a Young Chess Master". Ralph Ginzburg's January 1962 interview, Harper's Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
- Darrach, Brad (1972-08-11). "Bobby is Not a Nasty Kid". Life. p. 40. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "In Bed With Garner Ted". Ambassador Report. 1977. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- "Bobby Fischer Speaks Out!". Ambassador Report. 1978. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Arthur Bisguier, in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 49.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 49, 149–51.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 49, 152–53.
- Brady 1973, p. 70.
- Levy 1975, p. 91.
- Brady 1973, p. 75.
- "Body of chess legend Bobby Fischer to be exhumed as his former lovers battle over £1.3m estate". London: Daily Mail. June 18, 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- Bisguier in Wade & Connell 1973, pp. 49–50.
- Hooper & Whyld 1992, p. 81.
- Soltis 2002, pp. 81–83.
- Sunnucks 1970, p. 76.
- Fischer 1969, 2008, p. 305.
- Müller 2009, p. 248.
- Chess Life: 202. August 1964.
- Brady 2011, p. 155.
- Brady 1973, pp. 80–81.
- Donaldson 2005, pp. 7, 11.
- Donaldson 2005, p. 11.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 285.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 127-128.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 209.
- Brady 1973, pp. 86–89.
- Bisguier & Soltis 1974, p. 213.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 160, 209.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 127-131.
- Pachman 1975, p. 215.
- Brady 1973, pp. 88–89.
- Brady 1973, pp. 86–88.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 209.
- Di Felice 2013b, p. 167.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 82–86.
- Brady 1973, pp. 92–94.
- Kashdan 1977, p. v.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 322.
- Müller 2009, pp. 284–85.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 87–91.
- Di Felice 2013b, p. 396.
- Müller 2009, pp. 291, 296–97.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 236–47
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, pp. 450–53.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 161–166.
- Di Felice 2013c, p. 56.
- Di Felice 2013c, p. 91.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 248–59.
- Müller 2009, p. 321.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 154–55.
- Sonas, J. (2005). "The Greatest Chess Player of All Time – Part IV". Chessbase.
- Hooper & Whyld 1992, p. 137.
- Benko & Silman, p. 426.
- Leonard Barden, in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 342.
- Brady 1973, p. 174.
- Chess Life & Review, July 1975, Vol. XXX, No. 7.
- "USSR vs Rest of the World: Belgrade 1970". Wojciech Bartelski & Co. 2003–2008. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Crowther, Mark (2008). "Robert James Fischer 1943–2008". Mark Crowther. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Di Felice 2013c, p. 374.
- Chess Digest 1971, p. 83.
- Denker & Parr 1995, p. 105.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 188–89.
- Chess Digest 1971, pp. 83–92.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 343.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 183.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 263–70.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 342.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 271–78.
- Di Felice 2013c, p. 366.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 201-202.
- Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 279.
- Kasparov 2004, pp. 342–44.
- Di Felice 2013c, p. 320.
- Weeks, Mark (1997–2008). "World Chess Championship 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal Tournament". Mark Weeks. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Kažić 1974, pp. 171–72.
- Panno refused to play in protest of the organizers' rescheduling of the game to accommodate Fischer's desire not to play on his religion's Sabbath. Panno was not present when the game was to begin. Fischer waited ten minutes before playing his first move (1.c4) and went to get Panno to convince him to play. Fifty-two minutes had elapsed on Panno's clock before he came to the board and resigned. Brady 1973, p. 179; Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 344, 410.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 214.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 86.
- Brady 2011, p. 81.
- Brady 2011, p. 167.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 88.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 220–222.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 225–226.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 226.
- Wade & O'Connell 1973, pp. 412–16.
- Leonard Barden, From Portorož to Petrosian, in Wade & O'Connell 1972, p. 345.
- Brady 1973, p. 188. Quoted in Brady 2011, p. 168.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 91–92.
- Brady 2011, p. 168.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 92.
- Cafferty 1972, p. 102.
- "If the chess world had been surprised by Fischer's running roughshod over Taimanov, it was positively sent reeling by Bobby's crushing 6–0 defeat of Larsen." Müller 2009, p. 360.
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. 19.
- Kasparov 2004, pp. 405–06.
- Sonas, Jeff (April 28, 2005). "The Greatest Chess Player of All Time – Part II". Chessmetrics. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
- Brady 2011, p. 169.
- Brady 1973, p. 195.
- Kasparov 2004, pp. 408–17.
- Jan Timman, The Art of Chess Analysis, R.H.M. Press, 1980, pp. 36–42. ISBN 0-89058-048-0.
- Soltis 2003, pp. 259–62.
- Soltis, Andy (2002). Chess Lists Second Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland and Company. ISBN 0-7864-1296-8.
- Mednis 1997, pp. 266–70.
- Reuben Fine, The Final Candidates Match Buenos Aires, 1971: Fischer vs Petrosian, Hostel Chess Association, 1971, pp. 13–32.
- Cantwell, Robert (November 8, 1971). "Bobby Clears The Board For The Title". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, p. 96.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 289.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 293.
- Alexander 1972, p. 74.
- Chess Informant, Volume 14, Šahovski Informator, 1973, pp. 302–07.
- All Time Rankings. Retrieved on 2009-06-21.
- Life, November 12, 1971, "The Deadly Gamesman".
- Kasparov 2004, p. 429.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 336.
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 10–11.
- Gligorić 1972, pp. 11–12.
- "The Inflation Calculator". Westegg.com. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- Gligorić 1972, p. 13.
- Fischer vs Spassky: The Chess Match of the Century, by Svetozar Gligorić, New York 1972, Simon & Schuster
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 308
- Alexander 1972, p. 141.
- Alexander 1972, pp. 84–87.
- Gligorić 1972, p. 37.
- Alexander 1972, p. 87.
- Edmonds & Eidinow 2004, pp. 271–73.
- Perhaps the best-selling book on the match was subtitled "The New York Times Report on the Chess Match of the Century". Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972. Gligorić's book on the match was also subtitled "The Chess Match of the Century". Gligorić 1972.
- "Even before a move has been made, this breathtaking, blood-curdling and heartrending encounter is justly being labelled as 'the Match of the Century'." Donner 2006, p. 136 (originally published in De Tijd, June 28, 1972).
- Byrne & Nei 1974, p. vii.
- Roberts, Schonberg, Horowitz & Reshevsky 1972, pp. 195–96.
- Müller 2009, p. 370. The match made the covers of Time and Newsweek. Id. at 19.
- Kasparov remarked, "Fischer fits ideologically into the context of the Cold War era: a lone American genius challenges the Soviet chess machine and defeats it". Kasparov 2004, p. 206.
- Müller 2009, p. 15.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 89.
- Similarly, Fischer's sister observed, "Bobby did all this in a country almost totally without a chess culture. It was as if an Eskimo had cleared a tennis court in the snow and gone on to win the world championship." Müller 2009, p. 13.
- Saidy & Lessing 1974, pp. 224–25.
- Larry Evans, in Müller 2009, p. 13.
- Sports Illustrated, August 14, 1972, "BOBBY'S CHESSBOARD MASTERY".
- "Bob Hope's Comedy Collection 1972". Createspace. 2000–2008. Retrieved October 17, 2008. [dead link]
- "About the USCF". United States Chess Federation. 2007–2008. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
- Karpov beat Lev Polugaevsky in a Candidates quarter-final match in January–February 1974 (+3−0=5). Byrne 1976, p. 19. In the semi-finals, held in April–May 1974, he beat Spassky (+4−1=6). Id., p. 79. In the finals, held in September–November 1974, he held on to beat Viktor Korchnoi (+3−2=19). Id., p. 113.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 471.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 412–13.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 472.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 413–14.
- Brady 2011, pp. 218–19.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 414.
- Grandmaster Hans Ree remarked of Fischer's demand that the champion keep his title in the event of a 9–9 tie, "They [FIDE] thought that this demand was too severe. It was rejected, understandably." Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 46.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 417–18.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 418–19.
- Donaldson & Tangborn 1999, p. 159.
- Denker & Parr 1995, pp. 110–11.
- Mednis 1997, p. 282.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, pp. 414–16.
- Kasparov 2004, p. 473.
- Karpov, Anatoly. Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a Chess World Champion. Atheneum 1991.
- "Victim of His Own Success: The Tragedy of Bobby Fischer", Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2008, p. D8.
- Seirawan & Stefanovic 1992, p. 22.
- Ayoub, Chuck (2003–2008). "Bobby Fischer Biography". Chuck Ayoub. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
- Fischer 1982, p. 1.
- Fischer 1982, p. 2.
- Fischer 1982, pp. 3–14.
- Fischer 1982, pp. 10–12.
- Fischer 1982, p. 14.
- "I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!". Bobby Fischer. 1982.
- Chun, Rene. Bobby Fischer’s Pathetic Endgame. The Atlantic. December 2002.
- Chun, Rene. Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame. GoddessChess.com. (backup copy)
- Nack, William (July 29, 1985). "Bobby Fischer". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-09-03.
- Weeks, Mark (1997–2008). "1992 Fischer – Spassky Rematch Highlights". Mark Weeks. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
- Seirawan & Stefanovic 1992, p. 8.
- Soltis, Andrew (2003). Bobby Fischer Rediscovered. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd. p. 280.
- Müller 2009, p. 382.
- Waitzkin 1993, p. 298.
- Bobby Fischer player profile and games at Chessgames.com
- The tenth press conference was not transcribed. Seirawan & Stefanovic 1992, p. 272. The content of the other nine press conferences can be found, in full, in id. at pp. 13, 15–21, 53–57, 86–90, 114–18, 149–54, 170–75, 208–14, 227–31, 256–60.
- Seirawan & Stefanovic 1992, p. 291.
- Winter 1993.
- Seirawan & Stefanovic, pp. 85, 96, 303.
- Threatening Letter to Bobby Fischer. anusha.com
- "Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame". Theatlantic.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Daniszewski, John (1992-09-04). "Fischer's 19-Year-Old Companion Shares Chess Limelight". Community.seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 65, 106–09.
- "Sofia Polgar discussing Bobby Fischer". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Cabreza, Vincent (January 19, 2008). "Fischer has a Pinoy heir born in Baguio – friends". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
- Marilyn Young's name was written behind a photograph dated December 14, 2000 sent to her by Fischer. The photograph is displayed on the ChessBase website. See also the following reference: "Fischer's daughter Jinky files claim to his estate". ChessBase.com. November 11, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- Ochoa, Francis (February 7, 2008). "Fischer's Filipino heirs going after estate". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "Bobby Fischer's Pinay heir may get settlement". GMANews.tv. February 26, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "Fischer's Pinay love child in Iceland to claim inheritance". Manila Bulletin. December 4, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "Fischer's daughter Jinky files claim to his estate". ChessBase.com. November 11, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "4 gera kröfu í dánarbú Fischers (Four parties make claims)". RÚV. April 22, 2008. Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.[dead link] (apparent broken link)
- "DNA tests on chess champion's corpse exclude paternity". Reuters. August 17, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
- "DNA results settle Bobby Fischer paternity case". Cnn.com. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 30, 44.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 41, 45, 61, 66, 90, 92, 95, 101, 107, 117–20.
- Parr, Larry: "Is Bobby Fischer Anti-Semitic?", Chess News, May 2001.
- Nathaniel Popper, Chess Master Pawned Identity for Hatred, The Jewish Daily Forward, July 23, 2004.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 123.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 41, 65–66, 118–19, 121.
- Fischer on Icelandic Radio April 11, 2006
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 118.
- DeLucia 2009, pp. 160–62, 166. Chess historian Edward Winter, in his review of DeLucia's book, calls it "[o]ne of the most extraordinary of all chess books". Winter 2009.
- Fischer wrote of Nature's Eternal Religion in a 1979 letter to Benko, "The book shows that Christianity itself is just a Jewish hoax and one more Jewish tool for their conquest of the world. ... Unfortunately the author is an extreme racist and this somewhat spoils the book." DeLucia 2007, p. 280.
- DeLucia 2009, pp. 290, 292.
- Bamber, David; Chris Hastings (December 2, 2001). "Bobby Fischer speaks out to applaud Trade Centre attacks". Sunday Telegraph (London). p. 17.
- "The Bin Laden defense; Diatribe; Bobby Fischer speaks out in favor of 9/11 attacks; Brief Article; Transcript". Harper's Magazine 304 (1822): 27. March 1, 2002. 0017-789X.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, p. 122.
- Weber, Bruce (January 19, 2008). "Bobby Fischer, Troubled Genius of Chess, Dies at 64". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "US Chess Federation decision" (PDF).
- DeLucia 2009, p. 301. The letter is in draft form, and the book does not reflect whether Fischer ever finalized or sent it.
- Winter 2009.
- Carol Off (2008-01-18). "As It Happens Daily". podcast. 9:43–10:33 minutes in. CBC.
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 66–67.
- "Archive of official site". Web.archive.org. 2008-01-21. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Frederick, Jim (August 23, 2004). "King's Gambit". Time. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Fischer er jákvæður og skýr í hugsun". (Icelandic-language).
- (apparent broken link)[dead link]
- Suzuki, Hiroshi (August 6, 2004). "Bobby Fischer Renounces U.S. Citizenship, Seeks Refugee Status". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- Profile: Bobby Fischer: Endgame on the darker side of genius. Timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved on 2009-07-18.
- "Fischer's next moves: renounce U.S. citizenship and marry a Japanese | The Japan Times Online". Search.japantimes.co.jp. August 17, 2004. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- "Fischer renounces US citizenship". Chessbase.com. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
- Koerner, Brendan (2004-08-09). "How To Renounce Your Citizenship: Tips from Bobby Fischer". Slate. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
- "Bobby Fischer's Deportation Appeal Rejected". Fox News (Ctv.ca). July 28, 2004. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- Bobby Fischer: ich bin ein Icelander!. March 21, 2005.
- Smith-Spark, Laura (March 23, 2005). "Fischer 'put Iceland on the map'". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved September 13, 2008.
- Chess legend still intrigues people[dead link] May 9, 2005
- "Bobby Fischer dies in Iceland". Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Bobby Fischer and the missed combination. ChessBase.com. December 17, 2006.
- Bobby Fischer's final manoeuvre, The Sunday Times, April 20, 2008 (subscription required)
- Dánarorsök Fischers var nýrnabilun, mbl.is, 2008-01-20
- Mig Greengard (November 23, 2007). "Fischer Hospitalized in Reykjavík". Chess Ninja.
- Chess genius Bobby Fischer, from American hero to paranoid fugitive January 18, 2008
- Bobby Fischer: Demise of a chess legend, the BBC on Fischer's personality and downfall
- Chess legend Fischer dies at 64, BBC News, 2008-01-18
- Helgason, Gudjon (January 18, 2008). "Chess Master Bobby Fischer Dead at 64". Associated Press.
- Obituary in The Times, 19 January 2008
- Weber, Bruce (January 19, 2008). "Bobby Fischer, Chess Master, Dies at 64". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
- Brady 2011, pp. 316–317.
- Dirda, Michael (10 February 2011). "A chess master who defeated himself". Washington Post.
- Síðustu orð Fischers, Vísir.is, 2008-01-20
- "– Bobby Fischer – his final weeks". Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Case still pending (apparent broken link)[dead link]
- Andrew Soltis, Fi$cher Family Feud, New York Post, November 15, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-16.
- Loeb, Dylan (2010-07-05). "Bobby Fischer Is Exhumed, New York Times chess blog by Dylan Loeb McClain". Gambit.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- "Fischer’s remains to be exhumed?". Chessbase. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Dylan Loeb McClain, Iceland: Bobby Fischer’s Estate Dispute, New York Times Europe
- Court rules Bobby Fischer's body can be exhumed, CNN.com
- Helgason, Gudjon (July 5, 2010). "Chess icon Fischer's body exhumed over paternity". Associated Press. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- Miyoko Watai Ruled Bobby Fischer's Legal Heir, Iceland Review, March 3, 2011.
- McClain, Dylan Loeb (March 4, 2011). Iceland Court Hands Bobby Fischer Estate to Japanese Claimant, New York Times
- Müller 2009, p. 31.
- Fischer 1969, p. 151.
- Bisguier & Soltis 1974, p. 208.
- Plisetsky & Voronkov 2005, p. 322 (quoting March 20, 1972 letter from Paul Keres to the USSR Chess Federation).
- "The Exchange Variation was a feared weapon in the hands of Bobby Fischer". Kasparov & Keene 1989, p. 382.
- "The modern version of the Spanish Exchange variation, in which White moves 5.0-0 after the exchange on move 4, should be named after former World Champion Bobby Fischer." Fischer, after finding an improvement on a 1965 game Barengdt-Teschner, which Black won, "started to play the Exchange with the move 5.0-0, winning game after game with it, and continued to play it with success even in his 1992 rematch with Boris Spassky, his final formal chess event". Kaufman 2004, pp. 4–5.
- Fischer games with Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation. ChessGames.com. Retrieved on 2009-02-19.
- Andrew Soltis, in Müller 2009, pp. 29, 32–33.
- L.S. Blackstock, in Wade & O'Connell 1973, p. 36.
- Andrew Soltis, in Müller 2009, p. 25.
- Hansen 2002, p. 132.
- Pliester 1995, p. 272.
- Gligorić 1985, p. 65.
- Watson observed that 7...Qb6 "is an astonishing move that those raised with classical chess principles would simply reject as a typical beginner's mistake. Black goes running after a pawn when he is undeveloped and already under attack." Watson 2006, p. 199.
- "Referring to the Poisoned Pawn Variation ... the brilliant, classically oriented grandmaster Salo Flohr commented, even as late as 1972: 'In chess, there is an old rule: in the opening, one must make haste to develop the pieces, and must not move the same piece several times, particularly the queen. This ancient law holds good even for Bobby Fischer.'" Watson 1998, p. 18.
- The Poisoned Pawn Variation "was considered dubious by certain GMs and crazy by Bent Larsen". Polugaevsky, Piket & Guéneau 1995, p. 83.
- Andrew Soltis, in Müller 2009, p. 30.
- Fischer (Black) Poisoned Pawn games. ChessGames.com. Retrieved on 03-22-2009.
- Georgiev & Kolev 2007, p. 6.
- Mednis 1997, pp. 56, 146.
- Mednis calls 6.Bc4 against the Najdorf Variation "Fischer's 6 B-QB4". Mednis 1997, pp. 56, 74, 80, 88.
- "Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer". ChessGames.com. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
- Fischer 1961, p. 4.
- Fischer 1961, pp. 4–9.
- Korchnoi & Zak 1975, p. 39.
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- Andrew Soltis, in Müller 2009, p. 29.
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- Speaking about Fischer... Nov. 4, 2006
- Audio clip of Bobby Fischer
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- Greatest player ever:
- Arguably greatest player ever:
- Böhm & Jongkind 2003, pp. 133–34.
- Divinsky 1990. p. 67.
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- Chessmetrics Player Profile: Bobby Fischer
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- Bantam Books, May 1972, ISBN 0-553-26315-3.
- Soltis writes that Fischer "contributed some ideas, but chiefly his name, to Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess". Soltis 2003, p. 10.
- Bobby Fischer for Beginners, by Renzo Verwer, 2010, p. 116-18
- includes one game where opponent was reluctant to play and resigned on the first move
- Bobby Fischer for Beginners, by Renzo Verwer, 2010, p. 118
- Wade & O'Connell BFCG Doubleday 1972, p.11.
- Müller 2009, p. 400.
- Donaldson & Tangborn 1999, pp. 51-52.
- includes one forfeit
- Brady 1973, p. 74.
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- Cafferty, Bernard (1972). Candidates Matches 1971. The Chess Player.
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- Chess Digest (1971). Bobby Fischer: His Games and His Openings 1969 through 1971. Chess Digest.
- Collins, John W. (1974). My Seven Chess Prodigies. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-21941-3.
- DeLucia, David (2007). David DeLucia's Chess Library: A Few Old Friends (2nd ed.).
- DeLucia, David; DeLucia, Alessandra (2009). Bobby Fischer Uncensored.
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- Di Felice, Gino (2010). Chess Results, 1956–1960: A Comprehensive Record With 1,390 Tournament Crosstables and 142 Match Scores, With Sources. McFarland. ISBN 0-786-44803-2.
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- Fischer, Bobby (1982). I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!. Printer.
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- Wade, Robert G.; O'Connell, Kevin J. (1972). The Games of Robert J. Fischer (1st ed.). Batsford.
- Wade, Robert G.; O'Connell, Kevin J. (1972). Bobby Fischer's Chess Games. Doubleday.
- Wade, Robert G.; O'Connell, Kevin J. (1973). Bobby Fischer's Chess Games (2nd ed.). Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-08627-X.
- Waitzkin, Fred (1993). Mortal Games: The Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov. G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-13827-7.
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- Bobby Fischer: A Study of His Approach to Chess by Elie Agur, Cadogan 1992, ISBN 1-85744-001-3.
- Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World by Brad Darrach, Stein & Day, 1974, ISBN 0-8128-1618-8 (prizewinning behind-the-scenes account of the Spassky-Fischer match)
- Bobby Fischer – wie er wirklich ist: Ein Jahr mit dem Schachgenie by Petra Dautov, ISBN 3-9804281-3-3.
- World Champion Fischer (ChessBase, CD-ROM) – includes all of Fischer's games (about half annotated), biographical notes, and an examination by Robert Hübner of Fischer's annotations in My Sixty Memorable Games.
- World Chess Champions by Edward G. Winter, editor, 1981, ISBN 0-08-024094-1
- Bobby Fischer for Beginners, by Renzo Verwer, 2010, New in Chess, ISBN 978-90-5691-315-1
- Quotations related to Bobby Fischer at Wikiquote
- Media related to Bobby Fischer at Wikimedia Commons
- Bobby Fischer player profile and games at Chessgames.com
- "The Chessman", Garry Kasparov, TIME magazine, 26 January 2008
- "Was It Only a Game?", Dick Cavett, NY Times, February 8, 2008
- "Death of a madman driven sane by chess", Stephen Moss The Guardian, 19 January 2008
- "Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame", Rene Chun The Atlantic, December 2002
- Extensive collection of Fischer photographs, Echecs-photos online
- Edward Winter, List of books about Fischer and Kasparov
- Archive of Fischer's personal homepage
- Bobby Fischer Live Radio Interviews (1999–2006)
- A compilation of pictures of Fischer in the Philippines 1967 made into a video
- "Breaking news: Fischer comeback? (27.05.2005)", chessbase.com Alex Titomirov initiated discussion about Fischer comeback to the arena of competitive chess
- The Bobby Fischer Defense, an essay by Garry Kasparov in the New York Review of Books, February 2011.
- Me & Bobby Fischer | A documentary about getting Bobby Fischer out of jail in Japan and his last years in Iceland
- A ninety-minute HBO documentary about Bobby's Fischer's life entitled "Bobby Fischer Against the World" that aired in June, 2011
- Bobby Fischer: Chess's beguiling, eccentric genius BBC News, 4 July 2011
|World Chess Champion
|United States Chess Champion
|United States Chess Champion
|FIDE world No. 1
July 1, 1971 – December 31, 1975
|Youngest chess grandmaster ever