Fischer, Robert James
Birth Mar 9, 1943
Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Nationality USA - United States of America
Titles GM - International Grandmaster

Images 108
Last update Apr 9, 2000
Biographical data
US player.
International Grandmaster, 1958.
International Master, 1957.
World Champion, 1972-1975.
US Champion, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966.

Biography by Bill Wall
Bobby Fischer was born on March 9, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to Regina Wender and Gerhard Fischer. His father was a physicist and his mother was a riveter in a defense plant. She later became a grade school teacher, a registered nurse, and a physician. Bobby Fischer's parents divorced in 1945 and Regina had custody of Bobby and his older sister Joan. In 1948 they moved to Mobile, Arizona. A year later they moved to Brooklyn, New York.

In May 1949, Bobby and Joan learned how to play chess from instructions found in a chess set given to them as a present. Bobby saw his first chess book a month later. For over a year Bobby played chess on his own.

On November 14, 1950 his mother wrote to Herman Helms looking for chess opponents for Bobby.

On January 17, 1951 Bobby played a game against master Max Pavey who was giving a simultaneous exhibition. Bobby lost in 15 minutes. A few weeks later Bobby joined the Brooklyn Chess Club, headed by Carmine Nigro.

In 1952 Bobby played in his first chess tournament at the Nigro home, winning his match.

In 1953 Bobby was playing at the Brooklyn Central YMCA. In February 1953, Bobby played in his first organized tournament, the Brooklyn Chess Club championship, and tied for 3rd-5th place.

In 1954 Bobby was playing a lot of chess at the Brooklyn Chess Club and Brooklyn YMCA. He was exposed to international chess when he watched the USA-USSR chess match every day at the Hotel Roosevelt in Manhattan. In December, 1954 he again took 3rd-5th place at the Brooklyn Chess Club.

In 1955 Bobby score 4 1/2 - 3 1/2 in a Washington Square Park Swiss tournament. In May he scored 3 points in the U.S. Amateur Championship in Lake Mohegan, New York. He joined the Manhattan chess club in June, 1955 and soon won the class C championship and the class B championship. In July he won 2 games, drew 6 games, and lost 2 games at the U.S. Junior Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska. He took 3rd place in the U.S. Junior Speed Championship.

In January 1956, Bobby won the class B prize of the Greater New York City Open. He was a member of the New Jersey Log Cabin Chess Club. In March 1956, Bobby travelled with the Log Cabin Chess Club to Cuba and even gave a simultaneous exhibition at the Capablanca Chess Club. His U.S. Chess Federation rating was published at 1726. In April he won the class A championship at the Manhattan Chess Club. In May he played in the U.S. Amateur Championship in Ashbury Park, New Jersey, winning 3 games, drawing 2, and losing 1 game. At 13, he was the youngest player in the event. In June he joined the Hawthorne Chess Club, which was at the home of Jack Collins. In July he took first place at the U.S. Junior Championship in Philadelphia with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss. His USCF rating in the event was 1830. At 13 years and 4 months, he was the youngest player to win the U.S. Junior Championship. He won a typewriter for his efforts. A few weeks later he played in the 57th U.S. Open in Oklahoma City, winning 5 games, drawing 7 games and tied for 4th-8th place. In September he tied for 8th place at the Canadian Open in Montreal. In October he took 8th place in the Rosenwald tournament in New York. His win against David Byrne won the brilliancy prize and has been called the game of the century. In November he tied for 2nd-5th place in the Eastern States Open in Washington, D.C. In December Bobby won the rapid transit play at the Manhattan Chess Club and took 4th place in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship.

In March 1957, Bobby played two games against former world champion Max Euwe in New York, drawing one and losing one. In April he won the New York Metropolitan League. In July he tied for 6th place at the New Western Open in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A few days later he played in the U.S. Junior Championship in San Francisco and took first place and another typewriter. He also won the U.S. Junior Speed Championship. In August he tied for 1st-2nd at the 58th U.S. Open in Cleveland and won $750. His official USCF rating put him at 2231, making him the youngest player in the United States with a master's rating at that time, at age 14 years and 5 months. In September he won the New Jersey Open championship. In December he won the North Central Open in Milwaukee.

On January 10, 1958 Bobby Fischer at age 14 years and 9 months won the 1957/58 U.S. Championship and Zonal with 8 wins, 5 draws and no losses. His USCF rating climbed to 2626. Except for Santa Monica 1966, Bobby Fischer would win every U.S. tournament he played in. In May he appeared on the television show I'VE GOT A SECRET and stumped the panel (his secret was that he was U.S. chess champion). In August he took 5th-6th at the Portoroz Interzonal and gained the Grandmaster title. At the same time he became the world's youngest Candidate for the world championship at age 15 years, 6 months.

In January 1959, Bobby Fischer again won the U.S. Championship with 6 wins and 5 draws. He attended Erasmus High School in Brooklyn with Barbera (later changed to Barbra) Streisand and they were good friends. Bobby later dropped out of school to become a professional chess player. Fischer's academic records indicated an I.Q. of 180 with an incredibly retentive memory.

In April 1959 he took 3rd-4th at Mar del Plata, Argentina. In May he took 3rd-4th at Zurich, Switzerland behind Tal and Gligoric, with 8 wins, 5 draws, and 2 losses. In September he took 5th-6th at the Bled/Zagrev/Belgrade Candidates tournament, won by Mikhail Tal. Fischer's USCF rating was 2636, behind Reshevsky's 2693 rating.

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

In January 1961, Bobby again won the U.S. Championship with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. In July he started a match with Sam Reshevsky and tied it with 2 wins, 7 draws, and 2 losses before negotiations broke down to continue the match over the playing schedule and time of the start of each game. In August Bobby gave a controversial interview with Ralph Ginzburg for HARPERS magazine. In October, he took 2nd at the Alekhine Memorial in Bled, Yugoslavia, behind Tal. Fischer led the USCF rating list with 2660.

In 1962 Bobby joined the Worldwide Church of God. In March he won the Interzonal in Stockholm with 13 wins, 9 draws, and no losses. This was the first interzonal that a Soviet player did not take first place. In May he took 4th place at the Curacao Candidates tournament, won by Petrosian. He later accused the Russians of cheating in this event and that interview was published in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. In October he played Board 1 for the United States at the Chess Olympiad in Varna, Germany and scored 8 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. His USCF rating was 2687.

In January 1963, Bobby won the U.S. Championship with 6 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss (to Edmar Mednis). He announced he was boycotting FIDE tournaments until the Russians stopped fixing chess. In July he won the Western Open in Bay City, Michigan. In September he won the New York State Open with a perfect score of 7 wins, no draws, no losses. In November he was to play 400 opponents at once in an exhibition, but was postponed because of President Kennedy's assasination and a fire at the Astor hotel where the event was to have taken place. His USCF rating was 2685.

On January 1, 1964, Bobby Fischer won the U.S. Championship with a perfect score of 11 wins. He than began a nationwide simultaneous exhibition for the rest of the year. The first international rating list was published by Arpad Elo in 1964. The top two players were Fischer and Petrosian at 2690. His USCF rating was 2734.

In August 1965, Bobby participated in the 4th Capablanca Memorial in Cuba by playing through a teletype machine at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. He tied for 2nd-4th with 12 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. In December he won the U.S. Chess Championship with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses. Fischer's USCF rating climbed to 2734.

In July 1966, Bobby took 2nd place at the Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica, behind Spassky. Over 1,000 people watched his game with Boris Spassky, the largest audience for a chess game in U.S. history. In November he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana, scoring 14 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss. In December he won the U.S. Championship with 8 wins, 3 draws, and no losses. This was his 8th U.S. Championship title.

In April 1967, Fischer took 1st place at Monaco. In August he won at Skopje, Yugoslavia. In October he participated in the Sousse Interzonal, but withdrew after leading the event with 7 wins and 3 draws. His USCF rating was 2762.

In 1968 Bobby moved to Los Angeles and followed the Worldwide Church of God. In July he took 1st place at Netanya, Israel. In September he took 1st place at Vinkovci, Yugoslavia.

In 1969 Bobby finished his book, MY 60 MEMORABLE GAMES. He played Board 1 in a New York Metropolitan League and won.

In April 1970, he played Board 2 in the USSR vs REST OF THE WORLD match in Belgrade, beating Petrosian with 2 wins and 2 draws. He then went on to Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia and won the unofficial world 5-minute championship with 17 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss. After the tournament he called off from memory all of the moves from his 22 games, involving over 1,000 moves. In May he took 1st at Rovinj/Zagreb. In August he took 1st place at Buenos Aires. In September he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 19th Olympiad in Siegen, Switzerland. In November, Pal Benko gave up his spot at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal so that Fischer could play. Bobby won the event with 15 wins, 7 draws, and 1 loss. Fischer won the chess oscar for 1970, 1971, and 1972.

In June 1971, Bobby Fischer defeated Mark Taimanov with 6 wins, no draws, no losses in the Candidates quarterfinals in Vancouver, Canada. In July he defeated Bent Larsen also with a perfect 6-0 score in the Candidates semi-final in Denver, Colorado. His performance rating was 3060. In August Bobby won the Manhattan Chess Club 5-minute blitz with 21 wins and 1 draw. In September, Bobby defeated Tigran Petrosian with 5 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss in Buenos Aires for the Candidates finals. He now became challenger for the world championship. His USCF rating was at its peak of 2825.

In January 1972 Bobby appeared on the Dick Cavett show and talked about chess. On July 11, 1972 he began his match with Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland for the world championship. On September 1, 1972 Bobby became world champion after winning 7 games, drawing 11 games, and losing 3 games (one on forfeit). Fischer received $160,00 for his efforts and another $40,000 in royalties. Bobby Fischer's last published USCF rating was 2810. His FIDE rating was 2785.

On April 3, 1975 Bobby Fischer forfeited his title as world chess champion to Anatoly Karpov without playing a single chess game since winning the world championship. Fischer had been living in an apartment in South Pasadena owned by the Worldwide Church of God since the world championship.

In 1977 Bobby played three games against the MIT Greenblatt computer program. He turned down $250,000 to play one chess game at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and $3 million to play in a tournament in the Philippines.

In 1978 Bobby Fischer filed a $3.2 million lawsuit against the publishers of a magazine critical of the Worldwide Church of God. He claimed the writers taped his conversations without his consent. He then accused the church of reneging on their promise to finance the lawsuit.

On May 26, 1981, Fischer was arrested in Pasadena under suspicion of a bank robber. He was stopped by a police officer who said he fit the description of a bank robber. Fischer refused to answer some questions as was arrested.

In 1982 Fischer published, "I WAS TORTURED IN THE PASADENA JAILHOUSE." He used the pseudonym Robert James.

In 1987 the House of Representatives passed House Resolution Bill 545 recognizing Bobby Fischer as the world chess champion.

In 1988 Bobby patented the Fischer digital chess clock wich adds 2 minutes per move.

On September 1, 1992, Bobby Fischer came out of his 20 year retirement and gave a press conference in Yugoslavia. He pulled out an order from the U.S. Treasury Department warning him that he would be violating U.N. sanctions if he played chess in Yugoslavia. He spit on the order and now faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he returns to the U.S. In addition, he most forfeit his $3.65 million to the U.S. Treasury and forefeit 10% of any match royalties earned. On September 30, Bobby Fischer began his re-match with Boris Spassky in Sveti Stefan, Yugoslavia. The match was organized by banker Jedzimir Vasiljevic. On November 11, Fischer won the match with 10 wins, 5 losses, and 15 draws. He received $3.65 million for his winnings and Spassky received $1.5 million. The match used the new Bobby Fischer chess clock.

In 1996 Bobby travelled to Argentina to promote his random chess, where you set up the pieces in a random manner. This would take away the book knowledge of regular chess.

The President of FIDE offered Fischer $100,000 and a piece of land in the Kalmyk Republic in redress for copyright violations by former Soviet publishers.

Fischer is now reported living in Budapest.

Chess Career

Year Event Result
1955 Brooklyn Chess Club Championship 3rd-5th
1955 US Amateur Championship negative score
1955 US Junior Championship 10-20
1955 US Junior Speed Champhionship 3rd (+3=0-2)
1955 Washington Square Park 15th (60 players) 4.5-3.5
1956 Greater New York City Ch. Tied for 5th with Anthony
Saidy (+5-2). Lombardy won
this tournament.
1956 Log Cabin 50-50
1956 Manhattan CC 'A' Reserve 1
1956 Metropolitan League
1956 US Amateur Championship 12th (+3=2-1)
1956 US Junior Championship 1st (+8=1-1)
1956 US Junior Speed Ch.
1956 US Open Championship 4-8 (+5=7-0)
Bisguier took 1st
1956 Canadian Open Championship, Montreal,
Quebec, August 25-September 2 8-12 (+6=2-2)
1956 Rosenwald Trophy, New York, October 7-24 8-9 (+2=5-4)
1956 Eastern States Open
1957 Manhattan Chess Club semi final (+2=1-2)
1957 Log Cabin Open (+4=0-2)
1957 Log Cabin 50-50 (+3=2)
1957 Metropolitan League (+5)
1957 Euwe Exhibition Match Lost (=1-1)
1957 New Western Open (+5=2-1)
1957 US Junior Ch., San Francisco, July 8-14 1st (+8=1)
1957 US Junior Speed Championship 1st
1957 US Open Championship Fischer was declared winner
on tie-brake
1st with Bisguier (+8=4-0)
1957 Benninson Match Won 3.5-1.5
1957 Cardoso Match Won (+5=2-1)
1957 New Jersey State Open 1st (+6=1)
1957 North Central Open 6th (+4=2-1)
1957 US Championship (1957/58) Won (+8=5)
1957 Janosevic Training Match - Yugoslavia Draw (=2)
1958 Matulovic Match Won (2.5-1.5)
1958 Portoroz interzonal 5th (after Tal, Gligoric,
Benko and Petrosian)
1958 US Championship (1958/59) Won (+6=5)
1959 Mar Del Plata 3rd equal (+8=4-2)
after Najdorf and Pachman
1959 Zurich 3rd equal (+8=5-2)
with Keres after Tal and
1959 Candidates tournament, Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade 5th place with Gligoric
after Tal, Keres,
Petrosian and Smyslov
1959 US Championship (1959/60) 1st (+7=4)
1960 Mar del Plata 1-2 (+13=1-1)
with Boris Spassky
1960 Buenos Aires 14th (+3=11-5)
1960 Reykjavik 1st (+3=1)
1960 Olympiad, Leipzig Board 1 (+10=6-2)
1960 One exhibition game against Darga (+1)
1960 US Championship (1960/61) 1st (+7=4)
1961 Rehevsky Match +2=7-2
1961 Bled 2nd place (+8=11) after Tal
1961 BBC Consultation (=1)
1962 Stockholm Interzonal 1st place (+13=9) 2.5 points
ahead of the 2nd prize winners
1962 Larsen Exhibition Match Won (+1)
1962 Candidates, Curacao Fourth place (+8=12-7) after
Petrosian, Keres and Geller
1962 Silwa, USA v Poland Won (+1)
1962 Olympiad, Varna (+8=6-3)
1962 US Championship (1962/63) 1st (+6=4-1)
1963 Western Open at Bay City, Michigan 1st (+7=1)
1963 New York State Open at Poughkeepsie 1st (+7)
1963 US Championship (1963/64) 1st (+11)
1964 Simultaneous Tour
1965 Capablanca memorial tournament in Havana. 2nd (+12=6-3) equal with
Geller and Ivkov half a point
behind the winner Smyslov
1965 US Championship (1965/66) 1st (+8=1-2)
1966 Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 2nd (+7=8-3) half a point
behind Spassky.
1966 Olympiad, Havana Board 1 (+14=2-1)
1966 US Championship (1966/67) 1st (+8=3)
1967 Monaco 1st (+6=2-1)
1967 Skopje 1st (+12=3-2)
1967 Sousse Interzonal Withdrew. Was on (+7=3)
1968 Natanya, Israel 1st (+10=3)
1968 Vinkovci, Yugoslavia 1st (+9=4)
1969 Metropolitan League (+1)
1970 Rest of the World v.s. USSR match Board 2 (+2=2)
1970 Herceg Novi 5-Minute 1st (+17=4-1)
1970 Rovinj-Zagreb, "Tournament of Peace" 1st (+10=6-1)
1970 Buenos Aires 1st (+13=4)
1970 Olympiad, Siegen Board 1 (+8=4-1)
losing only to Spassky
1970 Andersson Exhibition Match Won (+1)
1970 Palma de Majorca Interzonal 1st (+15=7-1)
by a margin of 3.5 points
1971 Taimanov candidates quarter final match Won (+6)
1971 Larsen semi final candidates match Won (+6)
1971 Petrosian candidates final match Won (+5=3-1)
1972 World Championship Match against Spassky Won (+7=11-3)
One loss was by default
1975 FIDE stripped Bobby Fischer of his title
because he did not defend it.
1992 Unofficial world championship rematch (+10=15-5)
against Boris Spassky

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