Bobby Fischer the Chess Genius

Who was Bobby Fischer?

Robert James Fischer was mostly known as Bobby Fischer and was without a doubt one of the most geniuses chess has come across. He was born in the United States in 1943, Fischer’s footprint was set to leave a mark.

bobby fisher
Bobby Fischer in Amsterdam 1972

Nowadays, one can find compelling evidence that his biological father was Paul Nememyi – a physicist and child math prodigy, who published a textbook on mechanics that was later studied by German undergrads, making significant contributions to his fields of study.

He, also, had mental health issues. However, it didn’t take a genius to notice the similarities between the two.

Bobby first learnt to play chess at the age of 6. His mother, Regina Pustan, was probably a genius as well – reportedly speaking 7-8 languages, the doctor and activist showed great intellect from a young age.

However, at age 14, he became the US champion, the youngest to ever achieve that status, and by the age of 15, he cemented himself as the greatest chess prodigy by becoming the youngest chess grandmaster in chess history.

It was therefore time for him to test his skills against the great grandmasters of the former USSR.

Bobby Fischer’s IQ

At the age of 16, in Moscow, Bobby famously demanded to play the then current world chess champion Mikhail Botvinnik, though his request was denied. He later referred to them as “Russian pigs”, stating he didn’t like Russian hospitality and the people themselves. This belief had its roots on pre-agreed draws between Russian players looking to muffle Fischer’s ascendance in tournaments, which didn’t go well with the young prodigy.

He was also granted a scholarship due to his chess talent and “astronomically high IQ” – Bobby reportedly took an IQ test at 15, scoring 180 points.

By the time he was 19, he gave an interview in which he stated:

“All women are weak. They’re stupid compared to men. They shouldn’t play chess, you know. They lose every single game against a man. There isn’t a woman player in the world I can’t give knight-odds to and still beat.”

Granted, Judit Polgar was not alive yet.

US Chess Championships

Back to his chess prowess, during the 1963-1964 year, at age 20, Bobby scored the only perfect score in a US Championship – winning 11 out of the 11 rounds.

In fact, from 1966 onwards, Fischer would win every single match or tournament he completed for the rest of his life. During those years, he’d also write articles and give chess lectures all around the world.

In the 1966/1967 US championship, which he had won consecutively since his 14th birthday, he was qualified for the next world championship cycle.

However, things took an unexpected turn as tournament organizers failed to change the tournament schedule to accommodate Fischer’s religious constraints, which didn’t allow him to play on the 7th day Sabbath – therefore forfeiting two games in protest and later withdrawing, eliminating himself from the 1969 world chess championship.

He was leading the tournament scoring 8½ out of 10 prior to his elimination.

Such situations were common to the chess genius who would often make tournament organizers abide to his requests, no matter how specific they were. When rejected, he would negotiate terms and, if he felt necessary, withdraw from the tournament.

The problem with that was the fact that Fischer’s demands were growing in size, making him sit out of the 1969 US championship due to disagreements on the tournament’s format and prize fund.

World Chess Champion!

Prior to the start of the 1972 world championship, Fischer demanded a $250,000 prize, which was unheard of – equivalent to $1,500,000 in today’s currency. But even that wasn’t enough.

He demanded the first rows of chairs removed, a new chessboard and that the organizers changed the venue’s lighting – a request which was complied.

But after the first game in which Fischer, in an equal endgame, unnecessarily sacrificed his bishop in a position, he ended up losing, he was quick blaming the cameras saying he could hear them.

The late Years and Death

Years later, after the 9.11 attacks, Fischer stated that the US got what it deserved because “what comes around, goes around, even to the US”. Fischer was then arrested in Japan for travelling with a revoked US passport and, in 2008, he died from renal failure.

He died at 64 years old– the number of squares on a chessboard.

Author:
Mashrur Koushik from softwarechess.com