Who is Bobby Fischer?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Bobby Fischer was one of the most brilliant chess players in the world. He was a chess grand master whose biggest career highlight was his victory over Russian chess grand master Boris Spassky in Iceland in 1972. Fischer was also said to have made various anti-Semitic and anti-American statements even though he was both Jewish and American.

The 1972 Spassky-Fischer chess competition was called "The Match of the Century" and was a very big deal in the chess world. When Bobby Fischer decided to have a rematch with Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992 he became wanted as a fugitive by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for defying international sanctions. In 2005, Fischer was reported to have chosen to become an Icelandic citizen and to have denounced his American citizenship.

Robert James Fischer was born 9 March, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to a Jewish-Polish mother. His mother, Regina Wender, became a teacher, registered nurse and doctor. According to the FBI, the German biophysicist listed on Fisher's birth certificate as being his father couldn't have been, due to the time lines of when the German was in the United States. After divorcing the biophysicist, Regina raised Bobby, as well as his older sister, Joan, as a single parent from the time Bobby was two years old. They moved from Chicago to Arizona and then to Brooklyn.


Bobby Fischer's passion for the game of chess is said to have started when his sister bought a small chess set from the candy shop that they lived above. Bobby was six years old and was said to have taught himself the game by following the instructions that came with the chess set. At the age of seven, he joined the Brooklyn Chess Club and learned more about the game from a chess instructor there. When he was 13 he asked his mother for lessons from a different teacher to which she agreed. Bobby Fischer became an American chess champion at the age of 14 and a grand master at 15.

Bobby Fischer was a chess genius who even at his worst was among the top three chess players in the world. His school records are said to list his Intelligence Quotient (IQ) at 180. For most of his adult life he was very reclusive and would apparently surface periodically to voice candid, often anti-semitic and anti-American, opinions on radio interview programs. He is said to have called Jewish people "thieving, lying bastards" and to have stated, after the events of 11 September, 2001, that the United States deserved to be "wiped out." Bobby Fischer was reported to have died 18 or 19, depending on which report you read, January 2008 of kidney failure at the age of 64 — the number of squares on a chess board.


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