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Bobby Fischer's score card from his round 3 game against Miguel Najdorf in the 1970 Chess Olympiad.
Bobby Fischer's score card from his round 3 game against Miguel Najdorf in the 1970 Chess Olympiad.

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The Game of The Century - 50 YEARS ON

John B. Henderson by John B. Henderson

FIFTY years ago this week, a game played by an unknown 13-year old boy from Brooklyn shot across the globe that was to literally take the chess world by storm – and to this day, it is regarded as being one of the most iconic games ever played.

The boy in question was, of course, none other than Robert James “Bobby” Fischer, and the sheer brilliance of his stunning sacrificial victory over the highly-experienced Donald Byrne, played at the Lesson J. Rosenwald Memorial in New York City, led to the game being immediately hailed by Hans Kmoch in Chess Review as “The Game of the Century”.

Bobby Fischer - ChildIt was a breath-taking game that established Fischer as one of the great prodigies of all time, and it was a game that signaled the start of his meteoric rise in the game. And, such was its impact, the game even featured prominently in leading Soviet chess magazines of the day; with Russian patriarch Mikhail Botvinnik, after seeing the game, being reported to have said: “We’ll have to start keeping an eye on this boy.” The “Fischer file” was thus opened by the Soviets with the rest, as they say, being history.

One mystery surrounding the game asked by many fans is why it didn’t feature in Fischer’s timeless tome My 60 Memorable Games (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1969). The reason is simple. Bobby published the game in Bobby Fischer's Games of Chess (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1959); an early collection of 34 lightly-annotated games that concluded with his famous win over Donald ByrneMy 60 Memorable Games only covered a 10-year period from 1957 to 1967.

Donald ByrneRobert James Fischer
3rd Rosenwald Memorial, 1956.10.17
Grünfeld Defence

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 d4 0–0 5 Bf4 d5 6 Qb3 dxc4 7 Qxc4 c6 8 e4 Nbd7 9 Rd1 Nb6 10 Qc5 Bg4 11 Bg5? The start of Byrne's sensational demise, according to many annotators - but how was he to know what was to come from one so young?

Donald Byrne – Robert James Fischer - diagram 1
Position after 11. Bg5?

11... Na4!! From a seemingly innocuous position, suddenly Fischer produces a thunderbolt out of the blue that was described by three-time British champion Jonathan Rowson, in his book Understanding The Grünfeld, as, "One of the most powerful chess moves of all time." It was to prove to be the precursor to an even more spectacular queen sacrifice on move 17 that overnight brought Fischer world-wide fame.



12 Qa3 12 Nxa4 Nxe4 wins by force, e.g. 13 Qxe7 Qa5+ 14 Nc3 Nxc3 15 bxc3 Rfe8. 12 ..Nxc3 13 bxc3 Nxe4! 14 Bxe7 Qb6!

15 Bc4! To his credit, Byrne keeps his wits about him and finds the most active defence to the myriad of threats and pins. The alternative doesn't offer any resistance: 15 Bxf8 Bxf8 16 Qb3 Nxc3! 17 Qxb6 axb6 18 Ra1 (No better is 18 Rd2 Bb4 19 Rb2 Ba5) 18 ..Bxf3 19 gxf3 Ba3 20 Kd2 Bb2 21 Re1 Nd5 and White is doomed in the ending.

Donald Byrne – Robert James Fischer - diagram 2
Position after 15. Bc4!

15... Nxc3 16 Bc5 Rfe8+ 17 Kf1

Donald Byrne – Robert James Fischer - diagram 3
Position after 17. Kf1

17... Be6!!! The shot that was heard around the world - the move that announced Fischer was the real deal and a World Champion in the making. To have the chutzpah to play such a move from one so young, he would have had to have foreseen the Queen sacrifice from as far back as move 11. Ruben Fine liked this move so much he gave it an unheard of FOUR exclamation points in his book The World's Great Chess Games.

18 Bxb6 18 Qxc3 Qxc5! exploits even more pins. But the crux of the position is the threat of the forced Philidor smothered mate with 18 Bxe6 Qb5+ 19 Kg1 Ne2+ 20 Kf1 Ng3+ 21 Kg1 Qf1+ 22 Rxf1 Ne2#. 18... Bxc4+ 19 Kg1 Ne2+ 20 Kf1 Nxd4+ 21 Kg1 Ne2+ 22 Kf1 Nc3+ 23 Kg1 axb6 24 Qb4 Ra4 25 Qxb6 Nxd1 26 h3 Rxa2 27 Kh2 Nxf2 The hard graft is done, and now watch how Fischer supremely orchestrates his pieces to work in unison - a sign of good technique and a portent of greater things to come from the 13-year old.

Donald Byrne – Robert James Fischer - diagram 4
Position after 27... Nf2

28 Re1 Rxe1 29 Qd8+ Bf8 30 Nxe1 Bd5 31 Nf3 Ne4 32 Qb8 b5 33 h4 h5 34 Ne5 Kg7 35 Kg1 Bc5+ 36 Kf1 Ng3+ 37 Ke1 Bb4+ 38 Kd1 Bb3+ 39 Kc1 Ne2+ 40 Kb1 Nc3+ 41 Kc1 Rc2# 0–1

Fun and Training

ICC Quiz #929
submitted by Breaker
Quiz 1
White mates in 2
Quiz solutions

To play this puzzle on the ICC type:
tell trainingbot number 929
Then type: play trainingbot



ICC Quiz #933
submitted by Presumptuous
Quiz 2
White mates in 2
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Finding Bobby Fischer

The baffling moves of a chess genius

End Zone

Chess champion Bobby Fischer today (above) looks a long way removed...
... from the young man who set the chess world ablaze in the early 1970s (above) or the young boy (below) who mastered the game while growing up in Brooklyn.
Members of the RJF Committee who worked to help Fischer get Icelandic citizenship (from l.) Einar Einarsson, chess grandmaster Helgi Olafsson, Dr. Magnus Skulason (standing), Gardar Sverrisson and Gudmundur Thorarinsson.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Late Thursday night, beneath a soft rain that came in off the Atlantic, Bobby Fischer of Brooklyn walked off a small white jet, stepped onto the wet tarmac and officially arrived in his new homeland. He had a thick white beard and a tangle of hair and baggy blue jeans hanging on his 6-2 frame.

Thirty-three years earlier in this charming seaside city, the world's northernmost capital, Bobby Fischer had become the first American world champion of chess in more than a century. He defeated Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in an event that was covered as if it were a Super Bowl, and he was almost universally hailed as the greatest chess player ever.

Now Fischer was back for the first time, and seeing him there on the tarmac, a few minutes after 11 p.m., the rush of history was as palpable as the wind. You knew you weren't looking at the Babe Ruth and Beethoven of the 64-square set anymore, or a Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated cover boy, or even a U.S.citizen.

You were looking at an international fugitive; a venom-spewing flashpoint of the war on terrorism and the right of free speech; a person hours removed from an eight-month ordeal in a Japanese prison. You were looking at a weary, 62-year-old man who had just traveled 5,500 miles to an island with mountains rising from the sea, 100% literacy and more chess grandmasters per capita than any place on Earth.

"Thank you for saving my life," Fischer said to his Icelandic friend, Saemi Palsson. Fischer hugged Palsson, an amiable, white-haired man, a former police chief and rock ‘n roll dancer who was Fischer's security guard for the match against Spassky. "He seemed very thankful, and very much relieved," said Gardar Sverrisson, one of an ardent group of Icelandic supporters who helped Fischer outmaneuver the U.S. government by assisting him in getting Icelandic citizenship.

Robert James Fischer has an IQ reported to be 180, and it would be hard even for him to imagine a person undergoing a more thorough transformation. Once a Cold War icon, he is now a man who publicly exults over the attacks on the World Trade Center. The son of a Jewish mother, he now uses the term "dirty Jews" as though it were a statement of fact.

Once the suit-clad knight of U.S. chess, he is no longer even a member of the U.S. Chess Federation. They kicked him out. Not that he much cares about anything with a "U.S." in front of it.

He had scarcely heard the door slam behind him as he left his Japanese lockup Thursday when he said President Bush "should be hung."

Dr. Frank Brady, chairman of the communications department at St. John's University, is the author of a 1964 Fischer biography, "Profile of a Prodigy." He is a rated master and an international arbiter for the World Chess Federation.

"He is the pride and the sorrow of American chess," Brady says.

Bobby Fischer's rise to fame began in Crown Heights, 560 Lincoln Place, Apt. Q, with a plastic chess set his sister gave him when he was 6. It reached its pinnacle in a hangar-shaped sports hall here called Laugardalsholl, on the southwest edge of a land with vast treeless stretches of lava fields, glaciers and enough geothermal pools to heat one end of the country to the other. Now, Iceland is about the last place where Fischer can find refuge. U.S. grandmaster Ilya Gurevich, a trader on Wall Street, recently wrote an open letter to Fischer's Icelandic supporters, assailing their efforts to help him.

"The guy needs help," Gurevich says. "That's what it boils down to. The guy needs serious, serious help."

John Bosnitch, head of the Tokyo-based Free Bobby Fischer group, believes the real villain is the U.S. government, which has had a warrant for Fischer's arrest since 1992. Fischer has been a fugitive ever since.

"He got a ticker tape parade in 1972, but now they'd like to put him away for life," Bosnitch says. "When you severely criticize the U.S. government, they will hunt you down like a wild dog."

As a chess player, Bobby Fischer was known for his boldness, and his utter unpredictability. He is a hard man to read, and even harder to know. He was The Chess King from the Borough of Kings, a man with a mind unfathomably deep, and equally dark. Here's the journey of his last eight months, and beyond.

Nabbed in Narita

It was 5:25 on a Tuesday afternoon at Tokyo/Narita Airport, and Bobby Fischer was at the immigration desk. He was bound for Manila on Japan Airlines Flight 745. His 90-day stay in Japan was up. He was used to moving. For a dozen years, Fischer had been on the move, ever since the U.S. government hit him with a felony charge ofviolating sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by participating in a $5 million rematch there against Boris Spassky. Fischer was warned beforehand, told he faced up to 10 years in jail. "This is my response," he said, spitting on the warning letter. According to Fischer's lawyer, Richard Vattuone, Fischer is the only American citizen charged with violating those sanctions, including government officials who shipped arms to the Bosnians.

When an immigration official put his U.S. passport — Z7792702 — under a special lamp, Fischer heard a beep. He was asked to take a seat. A half-hour passed. It was getting close to flight time. Fischer complained and was told to sit down. Soon security escorted him to a private office. He would have a long wait.

The Boy King

Bobby Fischer learned to play chess by reading the rulebook. He learned Russian so he could study the Soviets' voluminous chess literature. He implored his mother, Regina, to let him go to Washington Square Park to play speed games. He became the U.S. champion as a 14-year-old sophomore at Erasmus Hall High School. By the time he became the youngest grandmaster in history a year later, he was playing or studying chess virtually every waking hour.

"You could mention a game to him and he would know it, whether it was from 1898 or a few weeks earlier," says Brady, who vividly recalls a tournament he played in Poughkeepsie in 1960.

Fischer walked by on his way to the men's room, barely even glancing at Brady's table. Months later, Fischer visited Brady in his office, reconstructed the entire game and told Brady how he should've played it.

"It was an incredible feat of memory and mnemonic relevance that just burst forth from him," Brady says.

Fischer did not have the same facility with social skills. He never knew the man listed as his father on his birth certificate, a German biophysicist named Gerhardt Fischer. He clashed often with his mother, a smart and forceful woman who embarrassed him with the way she pressured the chess establishment to recognize her son's genius. Once she barged into a midtown meeting of the American Chess Foundation and dropped a packet of news clippings about the failings of top chess officials to promote young talent.

"Bobby was mortified," Brady says.

He was living alone in the Lincoln Place apartment by his late teens, and visitors said he had three different beds, with a chess set next to each one. His mother gave him a leather-encased set with his name and likeness on the front; he'd sometimes pull it out and start playing, even if he was having dinner with a friend in a restaurant. Gudmundur Thorarinsson was the chief organizer of the 1972 match here with Spassky, and a person instrumental in getting Fischer Icelandic citizenship.

"He has devoted his whole life to the goddess of chess," Thorarinsson says. "Because of that, he didn't develop in other fields. Perhaps the most difficult thing in life is how to accommodate other people, learning to live with others and respect their views without constant collisions. He didn't learn to compromise, because that wasn't his field."

One of Fischer's favorite exercises was to walk, and he would do it very briskly, as if daring people to keep up. Few could. "He's been a loner all these years since Reykjavik," says Bill Lombardy, the New York priest and grandmaster who served as Fischer's adviser in 1972.

Passport to nowhere

Immigration authorities at Narita told Fischer his passport had been revoked and that he was under arrest. Fischer said he'd gotten the passport in Bern, Switzerland, in 1997 and it was valid until 2007. That was before the U.S. State Department had been contacted on Nov. 18, 2003, by the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, requesting assistance in "the revocation of the passport privileges" of Fischer "in order to secure his deportation."

Fischer was shown a letter dated Dec. 11, 2003, informing him of the revocation. He says he was never notified, as U.S. law requires. He had been allowed to enter Japan with the supposedly invalid passport in April 2004, three months earlier. Vattuone calls it a blatant "ambush." Fischer was not on the administration's favorite-citizens list. He'd often go on the radio to rant about Jews and the criminal acts of the U.S. His most infamous commentary came on a Filipino station called Bombo Radyo. The date was Sept. 11, 2001, a few hours after the attacks.

"This is all wonderful news," Fischer said. "It's about time the bleeping U.S. got their heads kicked in. Look, nobody gets that the U.S. and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Bleep the U.S. I want to see the U.S. wiped out."

The Big Red Chess Machine

Before Bobby Fischer, the Soviets weren't merely the dominant chess-playing people on Earth. They were czars of the sport, producing every world champion between 1948 and 1971.

"Chess provides indisputable proof of the superiority of socialist culture over the declining culture of capitalist societies," wrote the authors of a book called The Soviet School of Chess.

Winning the U.S. championship the same year that Sputnik went up, Fischer had no problem carrying the pawn for capitalism. The Soviets were so threatened by him that dozens of Soviet grandmasters were required to give reports on Fischer's chess, and his personality, in hopes of finding a weakness Spassky could exploit.

"All the Soviet grandmasters were here, the best players in the world, and when they looked at Fischer they had stars in their eyes, because they sensed what he was," Thorarinsson says. "It was quite amazing."

Cell Change

In August, Fischer was moved to a detention center amid the rice paddies of the city of Ushiki. The U.S. sent two letters to Japanese authorities to turn Fischer over for deportation. Fischer renounced his citizenship and announced his intention to marry his girlfriend, Japanese chess champion Miyoko Watai. He filed motions through the courts to stop the deportation. The Japanese justice ministry turned down his request to be protected as "a political refugee," and ordered him to be deported. It seemed only a matter of time. Fischer appealed. The order was stayed.

Missing in Action

Relentlessness was nothing new to Fischer; he had displayed it over a chessboard many times. "Some pro players take games off. He would never take a game off," says Asa Hoffman, 62, of New York, an international chess master who used to compete against Fischer. "He had incredible fighting spirit."

He was also incredibly obstinate. Fischer defaulted his world title when he refused to play Anatoly Karpov in 1975. He made 179 demands on chess's international governing body before he would agree to play, covering everything from the size of the squares to the lighting to the proximity of the fans (he wanted them far away), according to David Edmonds and John Eidinow, authors of "Bobby Fischer Goes To War". Only 177 were accepted. Fischer wasn't swayed even by a potential $5 million payday.

After his epic victory over Spassky in 1972, Fischer didn't play in public again for 20 years. Some believed he was terrified of losing, but others insisted that Fischer's self-confidence was unshakable. Brady, for his part, thinks it was hubris, plain and simple. From an early age, Fischer had masters seeking him out, deferring to him, wanting to be part of his inner circle. As with countless superstars before him, says Brady, it created a bloated sense of self-importance. "There was an incredibly super-attenuated sense of himself, a feeling of almost being God-like, and heaven forbid if you didn't do what he wanted."

The combination of Fischer's irresistible genius and chronic crankiness made him great theater — and the greatest draw the sport ever had. Before he played Spassky, there were some 10,000 members of the U.S. Chess Federation. Today there are almost 100,000. When Garry Kasparov retired earlier this month, he did so as a multi-millionaire. He has Fischer to thank.

Enter Iceland

Iceland has a population of 293,000, and lists people in the phone book by their first names. It's a place with deep Viking roots and strong sense of history, and Bobby Fischer was a big part of it. "Bobby Fisher is a hero in Iceland," Gudmundur Thorarinsson says. "He became the world champion of chess here, and people have not forgotten that."

With Fischer still managing to stave off deportation, Thorarinsson and a small group of fellow Icelanders who had been following his plight resolved to help him. Iceland is a longtime ally of the U.S., but some 80% of the nation is against the Iraq war. His supporters were appalled at what they felt was a gross violation of Fischer's rights. Fischer's crime, after all, was playing chess, says Gardar Sverrisson. For this he could not attend the funerals of his mother and sister — both of whom died while he was out of the country?

"This is a man who never harmed anyone, and all of a sudden he's being treated as if he were Osama bin Laden? It's absurd." The Icelanders worked on their government and succeeded in getting Fischer residency, and then an Icelandic passport.

Fear and Loathing

In 1962, in the prestigious Candidates tournament in Curacao, Fischer placed fourth between a trio of Soviets, and outlined the reason why in Sports Illustrated: the Soviets were cheaters. They colluded against him, playing non-taxing draws against each other, saving their mental energy for Fischer. "Russian control of chess has reached a point where there can be no honest competition for the world championship," Fischer said.

While experts agreed there was some merit to Fischer's charge, it was nonetheless evidence that the king of American chess was also the king of the conspiracy theory. Not that Fischer wasn't entitled to his wariness; his mother was under FBI surveillance for a quarter of a century starting in 1942. Her offense was apparently moving to Moscow in 1933. An FBI dossier on Regina Fischer, some 900 pages in length, was declassified in 2001, according to Bureau officials.

Bobby Fischer settled in the Pasadena area in the late '70s and '80s, living a reclusive life in a series of rundown apartments. Real or imagined, Fischer had his bogeymen. He reportedly had the fillings removed from his mouth, to prevent the Soviets from beaming in malignant waves. In 1982 he published a pamphlet called, "I was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse," after being picked up on an erroneous suspicion that he'd robbed a bank. When his personal memorabilia was removed from a Bekins storage bin some six years ago (Bekins said it was for nonpayment of the monthly fee), he ranted about "the dirty Jews" who were out to get him, and called it "one of the biggest if not the biggest robbery in the history of the United States."

From prison last year, he sent a pleading letter to the Seiko Corp., with whom he has been working on a chess-clock project: "They (U.S. government) are threatening to deport me to my death any day," he wrote.

A friend and supporter of Fischer believes his time in Japanese detention has exacerbated Fischer's anger, and his paranoia.

"There is a lot of hate in him," the friend says. "But there is also a lot of kindness. I don't know what goes on in his head. The anger comes up like that." The friend is worried about Fischer's mental health. He asked not to be quoted by name. Fischer has a history of cutting off friends who talk about him to the press.

Yule logjam

The U.S. Embassy asked Iceland to not extend any special courtesies to Fischer, but Iceland declined. One year ended and a new one began. Bosnitch, head of the Tokyo-based Free Bobby Fischer, churned out press releases and lobbied the Japanese government to let Fischer go to Iceland. Japanese officials said privately that if Fischer were to get Icelandic citizenship, they would let him go. Saemi Palsson, Fischer's old friend, traveled to Japan to see Fischer. They had not seen each other since 1972.

"You look good, Saemi," Polsson told him.

"You have a big beard," Saemi replied. They were separated by a plexiglas partition. Fischer had to go through 16 sets of locked doors to see his visitor. He was let outside only 45 minutes per day. He was growing increasingly agitated. He wound up in solitary confinement for ripping the shirt of a guard who wouldn't give him a hard-boiled egg. Later, he was talking to Palsson on the phone when he was ordered to get off. "I am talking to my friend, you goddamn kidnappers!" Fischer shouted. A scuffle ensued and Fischer stepped on the guard's glasses.

Even yesterday, at his first press conference in Iceland, Fischer was in full vitriol, telling ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that his father, the late Dick Schaap, was "a typical Jewish snake."

The cantankerous Fischer and the kindly Palsson seem an odd match, but the bond goes deep. Fischer prizes Palsson's loyalty, and Palsson sees a goodness in Fischer that is cloaked by his hard-edged rhetoric.

Palsson believes Fischer's greatest problem is his almost ferocious candor.

"He's the most honest person I've ever met," Palsson said. "He tells what he thinks without thinking. I always tell him, ‘Better to eat too much than talk too much.'" Palsson winces when he hears or reads some of Fischer's ramblings about the "Jew-controlled U.S. government."

"I try to get him not to talk like that," Palsson says. "He should of course have not said anything about (9/11) or talk about the Jews. I know plenty of people who would not forgive that. It's terrible. He has always been very sharp with his words. It's one of the reasons why he is where he is. I am trying to get him to change."

The RJF Committee, as Fischer's Icelandic supporters call themselves, kept working behind the scenes to convince the parliament to grant Fischer citizenship. Last Monday afternoon, it did, by a 40-0 vote. The U.S. appealed to the Japanese government not to let Fischer go, and there were reports that a federal grand jury would bring fresh charges — for tax-evasion and money-laundering — against Fischer. "Mr. Fischer is a fugitive from justice. There is a federal warrant for his arrest," said State Dept. spokesman Adam Ereli. But it was too late. Eights months of wrangling — moves and countermoves as complex as any game of chess Fischer ever played — were over." Little Iceland stepped on the toes of the superpowers, the U.S.and Japan," said Einar Einarsson, a top chess official in Iceland, After 253 days, Bobby Fischer walked out of the detention center. Saemi Palsson got on a flight and met Fischer and his fiancée in Copenhagen. They hugged and sang songs. Fischer had already told reporters on the plane that he had no plans to lighten up on his rhetoric. "I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. It's too late for me to adjust to the new world order."

Return to Reykjavik

Fischer and his fiancée, Miyoko Watai arrived in Iceland late Thursday night, in a small jet provided by an Icelandic TV station. The plane landed at the Reykjavik Airport, because Fischer did not want to step foot on the grounds of Iceland's biggest airport in Keflavik, where the U.S. has a military base. There was a crowd of maybe 250 people waiting with "Welcome home" signs, chanting his name.

In the rain, Fischer and Watai were escorted into a silver Range Rover, and taken to the Hotel Loftledir, to the same suite he stayed in when he played Boris Spassky. Later, his supporters gave him each a bouquet of flowers, and Fischer was handed his official citizenship document. While a U.S. federal grand jury continues to look into tax evasion and money laundering charges against Fischer, a federal law enforcement source said Friday "unless Fischer makes a nuisance of himself over there" in Iceland, the chances of the U.S. coming after him were slight.

Amid the lava fields and geothermal springs and radiant ribbons of light in the northern sky, the greatest chess player who ever lived is back among the free. On his first day out of detention, he went for an hour walk by the sea. He got a haircut and a beard trim from Saemi Palsson's daughter.

"He looks pretty good now," Palsson says, laughing.

Fischer is in a place where the water is pure, the air pristine, and where he is still revered as the king of chess, even though he never plays the traditional game any longer, only Fischer Random Chess, in which the back row pieces are shuffled before every game, into 960 possible combinations.

Bobby Fischer has never had a job other than playing chess, and spent most of his life wanting to conform to his own rules. For the first time in nearly nine months, he can do as he pleases.

"We are hoping this will be another chapter in his life, that he will start a new and different life and lifestyle in Iceland," Einar Einarsson says. "We are hoping it is a quieter chapter, living with Miyoko, but with Bobby Fischer that remains to be seen — as always."

Originally published on March 27, 2005


8:09 p.m. March 24, 2005

Associated Press
Bobby Fischer, left, former chess world champion, shakes hands with John Bosnitch, right, a leader of the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer.
ABOARD SAS FLIGHT SK984 – Sitting in the first-class cabin whisking him away from nine months detention in Japan, chess icon Bobby Fischer on Thursday launched a rambling diatribe against the United States, calling it "an illegitimate country" that should be given back to the American Indians.

The reclusive Fischer – who is taking up residence in Iceland to avoid arrest in the United States – also unleashed his anger at Israel and likened President Bush to a comic book character.

Fischer said he was "kidnapped" in Japan, and that Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi were in cahoots trying to deprive him of freedom and return him to the United States, where he is wanted on criminal charges.

"Bush does not respect law," Fischer said in an interview with Associated Press Television News on board the SAS flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he had a stopover before being flown to Iceland, which this week granted him citizenship.

  • Sporting a long beard, chess legend Bobby Fischer walks free from a Japanese detention center and immediately heads to the airport to fly to his new home, Iceland.
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"It's like in the comics, like Billy Batson used to say 'Shazam!' and he becomes Captain Marvel. He (Bush) just says 'Enemy Combatant! Now you have no legal rights.' It's a farce," he said. "This is absolutely cooked up between Bush and Koizumi."

Fischer, wide-eyed and bushy-bearded after his months in detention, paused frequently to collect his thoughts. Wisps of hair were matted against his temples, and he once gulped deeply from a glass of milky liqueur before explaining why he felt his detention in Japan for using an invalid U.S. passport was illegal.

The eccentric chess genius was unusually expansive on the flight, unleashing his anger against two of his favorite targets: The U.S. government and Israel. He disclosed a world view that has him as the underdog besieged by a bullying America.

"The United States is an illegitimate country ... just like the bandit state of Israel – the Jews have no right to be there, it belongs to the Palestinians," said Fischer, whose mother was Jewish. "That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the American Indian. ... It's actually a shame to be a so-called American because everybody living there is ... an invader."

He traced the origins of his troubled relationship with his homeland to his failed lawsuit in the 1970s against Time Inc., now Time-Warner, for defamation of character, breach of contract and other issues; a U.S. District Court threw it out as groundless.

"I got laughed out of court," he said. "This is when I began to realize what kind of a country America was then ... it's just a sham democracy. ... That's when I started to part company with the U.S."

Late Thursday, Fischer arrived in Iceland to accept an offer of citizenship from the country still grateful for its role as the site of his most famous match. In 1972 Fisher won his world championship victory over Russian Boris Spassky in the Cold War chess showdown that propelled Fischer to international stardom.

Also Thursday, Fischer's attorney Richard J. Vattuone said he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Diego on his client's behalf against the U.S. government over what the former chess champion called his illegal nine-month detention in Japan "under harsh conditions, amounting to torture." U.S. officials declined comment.

Fischer, 62, is wanted by the United States for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match there against Spassky in 1992.

He was detained by Japanese officials last July for using an invalid U.S. passport. Fischer claims the travel document was revoked illegally, and sued to block a deportation order to the United States.

Iceland's Parliament stepped in this week to break the standoff by giving Fischer citizenship. But Fischer is by no means in the clear, as Iceland, like Japan, has an extradition treaty with the United States.

Fischer denied he had been carrying an invalid passport in Japan and called Koizumi "a stooge."

"It's just my misfortune that this criminal idiot Koizumi ... (is) willing to do anything Bush tells him," said Fischer.

Asked whether he thought he might find U.S. authorities more tolerant of him if he toned down his rhetoric, Fischer said he was too old to change.

"I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. I'm too old. It's too late for me to adjust to the new world," he said with a chuckle.

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March 29, 2005, 8:53PM


Shame on Iceland

The Washington Post

"Mr. Fischer is a true Icelander now," said Thordur Oskarsson, Iceland's ambassador to Japan, after the tiny island nation's Parliament unanimously voted to confer citizenship upon chess legend Bobby Fischer. The passage of the citizenship act means freedom and sanctuary for Fischer, who had been detained in Japan for eight months while the United States sought him for violating sanctions against Yugoslavia during the Balkan war. But it also marks a sad day for Iceland, which actively associated itself with a man who has long since left decency behind. Of such true Icelanders we hope there are few.


Fischer is a hero in Iceland, a chess-loving nation, because his famed 1972 defeat of then-world champion Boris Spassky took place in Reykjavik. This was perhaps the most dramatic moment in the history of competitive chess. ...

But the Parliament of a democratic nation ought not to ignore the depths to which he has fallen since he walked away from glory. In his years of reclusiveness Fischer became a raging anti-Semite. ... On Sept. 11, 2001, he told a Philippine radio station that the attacks in his native country — not Iceland — were "wonderful news." He added that he hoped "the country will be taken over by the military, they'll close down all the synagogues, arrest all the Jews and secure hundreds of thousands of Jewish ringleaders." Fischer, clearly deeply unbalanced, should perhaps be considered a subject of pity, rather than hatred. But he should certainly not be a subject of legislative honor — not unless his new countrymen want their nation shamed every time this chessman opens his mouth.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fischer's Gambit, Accepted (by Iceland)

The Endgame of an American Chess Genius

By Mickey Z.

Fischer in Yugoslavia

"The United States is an illegitimate country ... (it) belongs to the red man, the American Indian.”
-Bobby Fischer (March 24, 2005)

There is a certain allure when an icon vanishes at the peak of his fame. The myth of early death has elevated legends like Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee, and Jim Morrison to veritable sainthood. However, there is something even more tangible in this myth when a figure simply “walks away” from fame. Greta Garbo and J.D. Salinger made self-imposed exile their greatest career move. Like royalty in exile, Bobby Fischer is no less reclusive.

Robert J. Fischer shocked the world with his chess genius, and stunned the world with his vanishing act. Bobby became U.S. Champion by the time he was 14. At fifteen years, six months, he was named “grandmaster” (the youngest in history at the time). After a meteoric career that alternated between brilliance and turmoil, Fischer defeated Soviet Boris Spassky to claim America’s first World Championship in 1972 and is arguably the greatest chess player who has ever lived. Living as a virtual recluse since 1977, Fischer’s myth has grown through endless rumors, innuendo, and speculation, and his shadow still looms large over the chess community.

"From my close contact with authors and chess players, I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”
-Marcel Duchamp

Fischer was unpredictable, egotistical, and difficult—a chess genius without peer, and without much in the way of social graces. John Collins was one of Bobby’s earliest chess teachers. In his book, “My Seven Chess Prodigies,” Collins had this to say about young Bobby: “I, nor nobody else, taught Bobby. Geniuses like Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, and Fischer come out of the head of Zeus, seem to be genetically programmed, know before instructed. So, I might have said of Bobby what Wenzel Ruzicka, a noted music teacher, said of Franz Schubert: ‘This one has learned from God’.”

The Brooklyn-born Fischer’s chess accomplishments certainly qualify as “godly.” In a 1971 tournament game against Soviet legend Tigran Petrosian, a power outage caused a postponement. Petrosian argued that Fischer’s chess clock should continue to run even though Bobby obviously could not see the board. The Soviet grandmaster claimed that Fischer was analyzing the position in his head. Here’s the catch: Fischer agreed. During the eleven minutes of darkness, the clock ran and, of course, Fischer won. A year later, Bobby easily defeated World Champ Spassky after losing the first game and callously forfeiting the second.

It was after defeating Spassky that his reclusive, paranoid nature reached fruition. Fischer has never officially defended his title (he sees it as having never lost the title) and, since his descent into obsessive secrecy began, “searching for Bobby Fischer” has become a cottage industry. Fischer sightings are the stuff of lore. For example, on May 26, 1981, he was jailed for vagrancy in Pasadena. The police, claiming that the disheveled Fischer resembled a bank robbery suspect, took him in. Once in custody, his clothes were taken from him. To avoid freezing, Bobby cut open a mattress and crawled in. He was promptly charged with destroying prison property. During this ordeal, the former champion was beaten, choked, degraded verbally, deprived of the right to make a phone call, and threatened with the prospect of being sent to a mental hospital for “observation.” Fischer penned a short pamphlet on this experience, “I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse” in which he declares, “legality is a sham at the jailhouse.” Not surprisingly, the author had still credited himself as “Bobby Fischer, The World Chess Champion.”

The pamphlet is a melodramatic recounting of an admittedly harrowing experience. Fischer himself calls it “...a brief outline, a hastily written sketch, of the horrendous and incredible but astonishingly true events that occured (sic) to me in my life between about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, 1981 and about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 28, 1981. I do not pretend this is literature. However, it is absolutely accurate in all the main points, at least a thousand times more accurate and truthful than anything you will hear from the other side...”

It ain’t exactly Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” but it has pathos. To illustrate Fischer’s continuing hold on the chess community, this pamphlet was a bestseller in chess clubs across the country despite the fact it never makes mention of the game.

"Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.”
-George Bernard Shaw

If all this sounds a tad, uh, “offbeat,” we must consider that madness and chess aren’t exactly strangers. America’s first chess legend, Paul Morphy, devoured the chess world in the mid-19th century. His retirement at the height of his powers pre-dates Fischer’s by 100 years...and Morphy supposedly spent the rest of his days talking to himself as he meandered through the streets of his native New Orleans. The great Czech world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, saw his game reach such a level of perfection that he took to challenging God, offering him odds. (When Fischer heard of this, he first stated that no one could give odds to the Almighty. However, after some thought, Bobby boasted, “But with white, I should be able to draw against him.")

A political chameleon, the enigmatic Fischer once entered a tournament in Cuba and played chess against Communist icons like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara yet, it was craven Commie-hater Henry Kissinger who appealed to the chess master’s patriotic interests in 1972 to convince Fischer to go through with the Spassky match. Bobby’s mother, Regina, was an avowed left-winger whose radical anti-war stance kept the White House from inviting her son for lunch after his defeat of Spassky. Despite his mother’s Jewish heritage, Bobby openly admires Adolf Hitler and believes the Bolshevik Revolution was “orchestrated by Jews.” He renounced Judaism and joined up with Ted Armstrong’s fundamentalist Christian sect, the Worldwide Church of God, in 1961. Fischer calls current champion, Garry Kasparov “Weinstein the Jew” (after his father’s death, the Russian grandmaster dropped “Weinstein” for his mother’s more chess-like surname, “Kasparov") and he will not read Chess Life magazine because it is “run by Jews.” He called the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE, the international governing body of the game) “a crooked organization run by Communists from Moscow.”

In 1992, Fischer finally succeeded in making himself an authentic fugitive by playing an exhibition match against Spassky in the former Yugoslavia. The U.S. charged him with violating sanctions and he has since been legitimately on the run...only surfacing after September 11 to express his thoughts about the terror attacks on a Filipino radio station.

In an interview with Radio Bombo in Baguio City, Fischer said: “This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the U.S. once and for all. I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the U.S. has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the U.S.”

More recently, he was detained by Japanese officials in July 2004 for using an invalid U.S. passport (Fischer says he was “kidnapped"). Even as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi contemplated handing him over to American authorities, Iceland (where Fischer defeated Spassky in 1972 and remains a folk hero) granted him citizenship. The 62-year-old Fischer arrived there in late March and wasted no time voicing his opinions about his native land.

“Bush does not respect law,” he said, calling Koizumi a “stooge” for America. “The U.S. is evil. They talk about the axis of evil. What about the allies of evil ... the U.S., England, Japan, Australia? These are the evildoers.”

Since Iceland has an extradition treaty with the U.S., Fischer’s future is still in doubt. When asked if he intended to tone down his anti-U.S. rhetoric, he chuckled.

“I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. I’m too old,” he said. “It’s too late for me to adjust to the new world, the new world order.”

Now, it’s Washington’s move.

Now free, Fischer holds nothing back

En route to a new life in Iceland, the chess star has some choice words for Bush, Koizumi

Associated Press

Associated Press
Bobby Fischer disembarks from a private jet in Reykjavik, Iceland.
ABOARD SAS FLIGHT SK984 - Sitting in the first-class cabin whisking him away from a nine-month-long detention in Japan, chess icon Bobby Fischer on Thursday launched a rambling diatribe against the United States, calling it "an illegitimate country" that should be given back to the American Indians.

The reclusive Fischer — who is taking up residence in Iceland to avoid arrest in the United States — also unleashed his anger at Israel and likened President Bush to a comic-book character.

Fischer said he was "kidnapped" in Japan, and that Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi were in cahoots trying to deprive him of freedom and return him to the United States, where he is wanted on criminal charges.

"Bush does not respect law," Fischer said in an interview on board the SAS flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he had a stopover before being flown to Iceland, which this week granted him citizenship.

"It's like in the comics, like Billy Batson used to say, 'Shazam!' and he becomes Captain Marvel. He (Bush) just says, 'Enemy combatant! Now you have no legal rights.' It's a farce," he said. "This is absolutely cooked up between Bush and Koizumi."

Fischer, wide-eyed and bushy-bearded after his months in detention, paused frequently to collect his thoughts. Wisps of hair were matted against his temples. He gulped deeply from a glass of milky liqueur before explaining why he felt his detention in Japan for using an invalid passport was illegal.

The eccentric chess genius was unusually expansive on the flight, lashing out at the U.S. government and Israel.

He painted himself as an underdog besieged by a bullying America.

Attacking U.S. and Israel

"The United States is an illegitimate country ... just like the bandit state of Israel — the Jews have no right to be there, it belongs to the Palestinians," said Fischer, whose mother was Jewish. "That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the American Indian."

Late Thursday, Fischer took off for Reykjavik from the airport in Kristianstad, in southern Sweden, on the final leg of his journey from Tokyo, said Einar Einarsson, chairman of an Icelandic Bobby Fischer supporters group.

Upon arriving in Reykjavik, Fischer was to stay at the Hotel Loftleider — where he stayed in 1972 when he defeated Russian Boris Spassky in the Cold War chess showdown that propelled Fischer to international stardom.

Fischer, 62, is wanted by the United States for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match there against Spassky in 1992.

He was detained by Japanese officials last July for using an invalid U.S. passport.

This week, Iceland's Parliament gave Fischer citizenship. But Fischer is by no means in the clear, as Iceland, like Japan, has an extradition treaty with the United States.

Fischer denied he had been carrying an invalid passport in Japan and called Koizumi "a stooge."


Mainichi editor disciplined over airport pass in Fischer story

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TOKYO — Mainichi Newspaper Co said Thursday it has disciplined the chief editor of Mainichi Daily News, the company's Internet English news service, for allowing a representative of chess master Bobby Fischer to use a reporter's armband giving access to restricted areas at Narita airport, when Fischer departed for Iceland last week. The publisher gave the chief editor a disciplinary leave of two weeks.

The airport pass was given to the Fischer representative on the day Fischer left Japan, according to Mainichi. The chief editor, whose name was withheld, was quoted as saying, "The representative was given limited access at the airport, so I thought I would just offer a favor in return for news coverage later." (Kyodo News)

Japan Today Discussion

Post Your Opinion!

The Chief editor...
jinjin Click here to see all messages by jinjin (Mar 31 2005 - 22:19)

Is a good man.

How else was Bob's friend going to say good bye, bar flying all the way to Ireland!


Bobby Fischer stories.


Page for his championship match


The Great Borris Spasky





Told by a master;

During a tournament in 1959, There was a power outage. All the electricity went out in the building. As you could imaging, everyone was in a state of chaos. After the emergency crews entered the building, the tournament director noticed something bizarre. A player was still sitting at a board, analyzing the position with total concentration.


Bobby Fischer!!!

Bobby Fischer Lands In Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, March 25, 2005

Bobby Fischer gets a warm welcome in Iceland, one of the world's most chess-loving nations and the site of his most famous match - the 1972 defeat of Russian grand master Boris Spassky. (Photo: AP)

"I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. I'm too old. It's too late for me to adjust to the new world, the new world order."

Bobby Fischer, saying he won't be toning down his anti-U.S. rhetoric

Fischer, who is as infamous for his volatile and bizarre behavior as he is famous for his genius at chess, was in a talkative mood in Reykjavik and accepted a bouquet of flowers from fans. (Photo: AP)

Fischer in 1971, when he was known around the world and was a Cold War hero in the U.S. for his challenge of Russian brainpower.  (Photo: AP)

(AP) Bobby Fischer's latest audacious gambit has begun in a wind-lashed corner of the north Atlantic.

The volatile chess icon arrived in chilly Reykjavik late Thursday, a brand-new Icelandic citizen and unrepentant critic of the United States, which considers him as a fugitive from justice.

Hours after being freed from nine months' detention in Japan, Fischer called the United States "an illegitimate country" and said the charges against him were groundless.

Arriving at Reykjavik airport, Fischer, 62, said he was feeling "good, very good," and accepted a bouquet of flowers from fans before being whisked away in a car.

Dressed in jeans and sporting a bushy gray beard, Fischer stepped from a chartered jet to applause from about 200 supporters in a tiny, chess-loving nation still grateful for its role as the site of his most famous match - a 1972 world championship victory over Soviet player Boris Spassky that was the highlight of Fischer's career and a world-gripping symbol of Cold War rivalry.

Fischer was freed early Thursday after nine months' detention in Japan, where he had been held by authorities for trying to leave the country using an invalid U.S. passport. Japan agreed to release him after he accepted Iceland's offer of citizenship.

Even minutes after his release in Tokyo, Fischer remained defiant and at one point he unzipped his pants and acted as if he were going to urinate on a wall at the airport.

During his long trip to Iceland - by scheduled flight from Tokyo to Copenhagen and then by chartered jet from a small airport in southern Sweden - Fischer railed against the governments of Japan and the United States, calling Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi "mentally ill" and a "stooge" of President Bush.

"They are war criminals and should be hung," said Fischer, referring to the Japanese prime minister and President Bush.

"This was a kidnapping because the charges that the Japanese charged me with are totally nonsense," he told Associated Press Television News on the flight.

An American chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15, the enigmatic Fischer has long had a reputation for volatility, increasingly strange behavior, and has a troubled relationship with the United States.

Aboard the flight from Tokyo, he called the United States "an illegitimate country ... just like the bandit state of Israel."

"That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the American Indian. ... It's actually a shame to be a so-called American because everybody living there is ... an invader," Fischer said.

Fischer, wanted by the United States for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match against Spassky there in 1992, has fought deportation since he was detained by Japanese officials last July.

After a nine-month tussle between Fischer and Japanese authorities, Iceland's Parliament stepped in this week to break the standoff by giving Fischer citizenship.

"My passport was perfectly good," Fischer insisted on the SAS flight to Copenhagen.

"It's just my misfortune that this criminal idiot Koizumi ... is a close friend of Bush and he's willing to do anything Bush tells him," Fischer said.

Fischer said he felt "very appreciative" toward Iceland - but indicated he had no plans to tone down his anti-U.S. rhetoric.

"I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. I'm too old,' he said. "It's too late for me to adjust to the new world, the new world order," he said with a chuckle.

His genius for chess has been overshadowed by increasingly bizarre behavior that among other things, caused him to lose his world champion title back in 1978. After that, he vanished from the public eye except for occasional radio interviews which often degenerated into anti-Semitic rants accusing American officials of hounding him.

He praised the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying America should be "wiped out," and described Jews as "thieving, lying bastards." His mother was Jewish.

Fisher has lived in seclusion and semi-secrecy for decades but he remains a popular figure in Iceland, a country with one of the highest numbers of chess players per capita in the world.

"Even though I don't know him personally, I have the feeling of knowing him through his biography of chess, his games," said Magnus Skulason, an Icelandic psychiatrist and chess enthusiast who came to the airport to greet Fischer. "It was hard to think of him going to jail for many years."

This nation of fewer than 300,000 people is a staunch U.S. ally, but there is a strong undercurrent of public anger at the government's support for the U.S.-led Iraq war, which was opposed by four fifths of Icelanders.

Iceland's ambassador to Japan, Thordur Oskarsson, said Washington sent a "message of disappointment" to the Icelandic government at its decision to grant Fischer a passport. The United States has an extradition treaty with Iceland, and could still try to have Fischer deported.

If convicted of violating U.S. sanctions imposed to punish then-President Slobodan Milosevic, Fischer could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

His Icelandic supporters vow that won't happen.

"I think he is safe now," said Thorstein Matthiasson, 39. "We have more courage than the Japanese."

Bobby Fischer stories.



Q1) Its unusual, to say the least, to meet a Swami who is involved in chess. What is your chess history?

A) My father taught me the moves as a very young child growing up in Brooklyn, New York. I enjoyed playing the game through high school, but became really interested in it at university where my playing strength developed. I played on the Columbia university team, which was the USA Intercollegiate champion at the time. I was rated as a high expert - 2100 plus.

After going to India and spending many years practicing meditation and Self-inquiry I had the opportunity to play tournament chess again in LA. I wanted to see if my new understandings of my inner world would help me achieve my long-term ambition of becoming a US Master. In fact I was able to do that and my playing had greatly improved.

When I first came to Australia ten years ago I played in a few tournaments and won a few senior tournaments, but I havent played serious chess in at least six years.

Q2) We hear that you knew Bobby Fischer in your youth. Can you say how that came about?

A) Yes. My father, who was an artist, was getting a brochure done at his printers. He met a woman there and somehow they got talking about how much their sons loved chess. Suddenly the woman said, "You may have heard of my son. His name is Bobby Fischer." That was around 1962. Bobby would have been about nineteen and already US champion for about five years, so my father was gob-smacked. Mrs Fischer gave my father Bobbys phone number and I called him up to invite him over to my parents house. I was more nervous making that phone call than I ever was to ask a girl out.

To my shock he accepted. The night he came over, I had the whole Columbia chess team down. It was great. Bobby was such a character. He read everybodys palm and spoke very bluntly about everything. He told one of my friends after reading his palm, "Youre going to die young." My father and he really hit it off. My team-mates were playing five-minute chess on the floor and Bobby was pretending not to watch them. Of course, they were very excited to be playing under the eye of the Grandmaster. One of the guys made a nice sacrifice of the exchange and Bobby, who had been watching out of the corner of his eye, said, "Very good, very good. I thought you were a weakie." I thought my friend would die of bliss. Bobby explained, "I dont like to watch weak players. It ruins my game."

After that we became friends and we went to chess clubs together and even to the beach. One time we were at the beach and Bobby saw a pretty girl sitting by herself. He went up to her and said, "Im Bobby Fischer, the great chess player." It was a good opening gambit, but she had never heard of him. Her reply made him realise she was foreign, so he asked where she was from. She said, "Holland." Bobby said, "Do you know Max Euwe?" (The Dutch former World Champion). Shed never heard of him. Now Bobby had run out of ideas. He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

Bobby liked his friends and he liked to be admired. One night, a friend of mine and I were sitting outside the ropes while Bobby was playing Hans Berliner in the U.S. Championship. At one point, Bobby played bishop takes knight. My friend whispered to me, "Why did he do that?" since you usually didnt want to give a bishop up for a knight. I said, well maybe its so and so, or such and such, pointing out some positional advantages that Bobby was getting. My friend considered it for a bit and then said to me enthusiastically, "Hes a genius!" Bobby won and after the game we went out to eat with him, and as we walked up Broadway, he turned to us and said, "You liked bishop takes knight, didnt you?" Hed heard it and felt appreciated.

Another time, I visited Bobby at his house. He was living with his mother at an apartment in Brooklyn. He played over some games for me from the Russian publication, Schachmaty Bulletin. He saw so much so quickly that it was breathtaking. On several occasions, he went four or five moves ahead of the game and had to take back the moves because he assumed play would be along other lines. That night he showed me what he said was a refutation of the Kings Gambit. He was about to go off to play in a tournament in Argentina where the great Spassky (not yet World Champion) would be his main rival. Bobby said he thought that if Spassky had white, he would play the Kings Gambit against him, and then he said, "Ill take his pawn, hold it and win." It all happened that way with one major difference. Spassky had white, he played the Kings Gambit, Bobby took his pawn, he held it, he established a winning position, but Boris broke through and won. Bobby was so disgusted with himself. The next time I saw him, he showed me how completely busted Spassky had been in line after line, much of it beyond my chess comprehension.

Speaking of Bobbys grasp of the board, I saw him play speed chess at the Marshall Chess Club with Bernard Zuckerman. Zuckerman later became an IM, and was then a strong master with a reputation as a speed player. Bobby gave him five minutes and took half a minute for himself. He crushed him game after game, all the while keeping up an endless flow of chess heckling. His hand moved way faster than my eye could see.

Bobby was very peculiar and certainly marched to his own drummer. He wasnt always polite. One time the Chess Federation gave him a gift of a suitcase before he went to represent the US in the Leipzig Chess Olympics. The MC called him up and made the presentation, and Bobby looked at the suitcase and said, "Its too big."

He was stubborn and a bit paranoid, but underneath it all, he was very likeable. He had a kind of innocence, and I dont think he ever understood why people reacted the way they did to some of his behaviour. Bobby was certainly the greatest genius I have ever met in any area of life, outside of yoga. But I think it was his innocence that made people feel sympathy for him. Im very glad that he came out and played Spassky in 1992 and I hope hes happy in Budapest, or Japan or wherever he is. I am sad to hear he has racist obsessions, but not surprised. His thought process served him well in chess, but he didnt recognise that in life they were often vitiated by his paranoia.

Q3) Did you ever play Bobby?

A) Not at chess, but I did play him at table soccer at an arcade. He was unbelievably competitive at everything. When one of my friends beat him at arm wrestling, he looked around for a weaker player that he could beat. When I beat him at a game of table soccer, he said, "Yeah, now you can say you beat Bobby Fisher!" So I said, "Well, I did, didnt I?"

5 Sept 1, 2002
5.1  Bobby's Blitz Chess
5.2  Games that Made em Sit Up and Notice
5.3  Universe Overrated, Inquiry Stalemated

by Larry Parr
September 1, 2002

5.1 Bobby's Blitz Chess

There is a conventional wisdom about Bobby Fischers development as a blitz player. My view is that this common understanding does not make sense. Not even prima facie sense.

In April 1970, Bobby scored 19 - 3 (+17 -1 =4) to win the unofficial Speed Chess Championship of the World, which was held in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia. Mikhail Tal (or a Soviet editor in Tals name) expressed the common understanding of Fischer as a speed player, I dont know what Petrosian, Korchnoi, Bronstein, and Smyslov counted on before the start of the tournament, but I expected them to be the most probable rivals for the top prizes. Fischer had until recently played fast chess none too strongly. Now much has changed: he is fine at fast chess. His playing is of the same kind as in tournament games: everything is simple, follows a single pattern, logical, and without any spectacular effects. He makes his moves quickly and practically without errors. Throughout the tournament I think he did not lose a whole set of pieces in this way. Fischers result is very, very impressive.

Tal concluded his comments on the blitz championship with the much less quoted, yet significant statement, We had known, of course, that Fischer is one of the strongest chessplayers in the world. He can defeat Petrosyan, Korchnoi, Spassky, and Larsen. Just as they can defeat him.

The Herceg Novi blitz event was the speed tournament of the 20th century. It had four world champions competing, and Bobby not only finished 4 ˝ points ahead of Tal in second place, he also obliterated the Soviet contingent, 8 ˝ - 1 ˝, whitewashing Tal, Tigran Petrosian and Vasily Smyslov, six-zip; breaking even with Viktor Korchnoi; and defeating David Bronstein with a win and draw. According to one report, Fischer spent no more than 2 ˝ minutes on any game, thereby also giving, in effect, heavy speed odds to powerful opponents. So, while Tal or a Soviet editor rewriting Tal is technically correct that the greats could beat Fischer, it is more apt to say that he could beat them far, far more often.

Here is the ever-so-telling tournament table:

Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament (5-Minute Chess)
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total
1. Fischer x 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 19
2. Tal 0 x 2 1 0 2 ˝ 2 2 2 14˝
3. Korchnoi 1 0 x ˝ 0 2 2 2 1 2 2 14
4. Petrosian 0 1 x 1 1 1 1 2 2 13˝
5. Bronstein ˝ 2 2 1 x ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 2 13
6. Hort ˝ 0 0 1 x 1 2 2 1 1 2 12
7. Matulovic 0 ˝ 0 ˝ 1 x ˝ 2 2 1 10˝
8. Smyslov 0 0 1 1 0 x ˝ 1 1 2
9. Reshevsky ˝ 0 1 1 0 0 x ˝ 1
10. Uhlmann ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 0 1 x 0 2 8
11. Ivkov 0 0 0 0 ˝ 1 ˝ 1 ˝ 2 x 2
12. Ostojic 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 x 2


The problem with Tals account of the Herceg Novi tournament is that it offers no explanation for Fischers dominance. We are told that until recently Fischer played fast chess none too strongly but that now he is fine at fast chess, an understatement if ever there was one. The conventional wisdom is, then, that there appeared sudden, inexplicable strength where hitherto there had been relative weakness.

On the Internet, inveterate Fischer haters typically argue that Bobby had a good day in Herceg Novi, and the others had a bad day. If well, if Bobby had lost a lost position in the first round against Tal, then maybe the final result would have been substantially different. Maybe Bobby would have tanked the tournament. Maybe the next time around Bobby might not prove so dominant. Maybe .... and so on.

Fischers chess career has been more minutely dissected than that of any other player, yet we know surprisingly little about his speed playing. True, we know that he won the U.S. Junior Speed Championship in 1957, and we have this reliable testimony of Fischers chess teacher Jack Collins:

How strong was Bobby? I remember the 1966-67 New Years Eve party at our home. At the time Bobby was competing in and winning his final U. S. Championship. Several grandmasters were present, and there was plenty of eating and drinking. By 2 a. m. Bobby wanted to play some chess, and he had in mind a certain strong international master. But Bobby had drunk quite a bit more than his opponent, and he insisted on playing blindfold blitz chess while the opponent had sight of the board. Still, he won effortlessly.

There are also stories from old Fischer friends about mighty blitz kriegs at the Manhattan Chess Club during the 1950s, and Fischer biographer Frank Brady recalls Bobby giving the GM-strength William Addison pawn and move, while playing him blindfold in blitz. Addison barely broke even! And then there is Bobbys preposterous score of 21 ˝ - ˝ in a strong speed tournament held at the Manhattan Chess Club in August 1971.

All told, Bobby scored 40 ˝ - 3 ˝ or 92 percent in two major blitz tournaments Herceg Novi and the Manhattan tournament against players ranging from strong masters to world champions. Bobby was treating this elite as masters treat class-rated players in simultaneous exhibitions. What Hans Kmoch said about Fischers 11 - 0 sweep in the 1963-64 U. S. Championship he congratulated second place GM Larry Evans for winning the tournament and Fischer for winning the exhibition could now be said about Fischers treatment of world champions and candidates for the world championship.

Let us ponder that titillating total again 40 ˝ - 3 ˝ or +38 -1 =5. This tally was not a chance agglomeration of numbers. Many of the games were so good, even though Fischer consciously offered roughly five to two odds in these battles, that Mikhail Tal wrote in a confidential letter to the U.S.S.R. Chess Federation that Fischers lightning games are interesting material for studies in preparation for Fischer-Spassky I at Reykjavik 1972. He then quoted GM Alexei Suetin as writing, Fischer treats every game as if it were a tournament game, which is why he commits himself totally from the first move to the last even in a blitz tournament.

Clearly, the conventional wisdom that Bobby just got good one year at five minute is ludicrous, if only because he was obviously always exceedingly strong at blitz chess. Such, after all, is what one would expect of, arguably, the greatest natural talent in chess history. Bobbys only rival in blitz is Jose Capablanca, along with Paul Morphy one of the other two great natural geniuses in chess history.


If the conventional wisdom makes little sense and, as we shall see, slyly belittles Fischers accomplishments, then the question is whence derives this wisdom? The answer is that it comes from Soviet sources. Articles that appeared in leading Soviet chess journals such as Shakhmaty and 64 were usually regurgitated or summarized in Western chess journals.

To be sure, Bobbys blitz chess in 1955 was not the same as Bobbys blitz in 1970. Nor, for that matter, was Bobbys blitz in 1960 equal to Bobbys blitz in 1970. Larry Evans recalls, In 1960 I played a marathon five minute blitz session with Fischer that lasted perhaps three or four hours. We broke even after about 25 games. In 1970, however, I was no longer a match for him at this speed. There is also a report about the 17-year-old Fischer playing speed chess at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad, where he dominated the likes of Robert Byrne and Miguel Najdorf but was reportedly still not quite a match for Korchnoi and Tal. More on Leipzig later.


Dmitry Plisetsky and Sergey Voronkovs Russians Versus Fischer contains some previously classified Soviet chess documents relating to Bobby Fischer as well as material from many articles in Soviet chess magazines. These articles promoted the myth of Fischer as a relatively weak speed player, who inexplicably and miraculously got good. It was also in these articles that great chess men such as Boris Spassky and Tal wrote about Fischer in a tone that was not their own.

Not their own? Am I saying that words that appeared under the names of Spassky, Tal and other grandmasters were invented by others?

After the Piatigorsky Cup in 1966, in which Fischer and Spassky competed famously, the latter said, It was only after my return to Moscow that I learned that the newspaper Sovietsky Sport had printed an interview with me, in which it was said: During his game with Spassky in the 17th round Fischer asked for the removal from the hall of a woman whose knitting needles, he claimed were disturbing the silence and irritating him. .... I must say that I did not see this and, therefore, could not have said anything of the kind.

Or there is this quotation, supposedly from Tal, about Fischers behavior during the 1970 U.S.S.R. vs. The World Match: Fischer is a child of a different lifestyle than ours, and all his actions are a result of the upbringing he received. But on the whole, hes not a bad lad, of pleasing appearance, a bit big and slightly awkward, but with a good natured and very winning smile. The line about Fischer being a child of a different lifestyle (i.e., capitalism) appeared often in the Soviet chess press, but from later interviews with Tal and other Soviet chess personalities, we know that these belittling and condescending attacks on Fischer came from the pens of Soviet editors rather than from the mouths of men such as Tal and Spassky.

One theme in Soviet coverage of Fischer is that his results were miraculous or, as Sovietsky Sport could only splutter about Fischers candidates shutouts, A miracle has occurred. This concept of causation beyond Fischers own powers became an important staple of Soviet writing on Fischer, which was meant to deny subtly his status as a unique genius.

Fischer is too deeply convinced that he is a genius, wrote Mark Taimanov in 1960, and statements with the same tone often appeared in Soviet chess publications. One of the most egregious was another report by Taimanov (or a Soviet editor) after Fischer lost to Spassky at Siegen 1970. Even some Americans (whose names I am not going to disclose, being a neutral party) were not too upset by the defeat of their leading player. Its time Fischer was shown that after all he is not the genius he styles himself to be, was their comment. In the end, however, reality overcame denial. Tal eventually stated straight out that Fischer was the greatest genius to have descended from the chessic sky.

In 1958 the 15-year-old Fischer visited Moscow along with his sister. Yuri Averbakh has described how the U. S. Champion played lightning games at the Central Chess Club, apparently mopping the board with such young comers as Yevgeny Vasyukov and Alexander Nikitin. In 1971, directly after the Fischer-Taimanov match, Bobby would astonish Vasyukov by recalling his games against him from memory. More on this feat below.

In Moscow in 1958, Bobby wanted to do more than play the young comers. He wanted to play against the Soviet world champion and the cream of the imposing Soviet grandmasteriat.

Tigran Petrosian or a Soviet editor inventing comments from Petrosian afterwards claimed, I was the person summoned to the Club to cope with a youth who was beating the Moscow masters at lightning chess. How well he coped with Fischer remains unclear. Fischer biographer Frank Brady claims that Bobby won some games from Petrosian, who had already twice been a candidate for the world title. If the match were at all close, then Petrosian did not cope well with a 15-year-old.

Indeed, one suspects that Fischer scored excellently in Moscow. Here is a revealing passage from GM Mark Taimanovs memoirs:

[Fischers] memory was amazing. Just one more example. It happened in Vancouver, Canada in 1971. At the closing of my infamous match against Fischer, Fischer and I were sitting with fellow grandmasters at a banquet and were talking peaceably after the preceding storms .... The conversation revolved around the match until my second, Yevgeny Vasyukov, suddenly turned to Fischer:

Bobby, do you remember that in 1958 you spent several days in Moscow and played many blitz games against our chessplayers? I was one of your partners.

Of course, I remember, Fischer replied.

And the result? Vasyukov asked.

Why only the result? Fischer responded. I remember the games. One was French.

And he rattled off all the moves!

There is nothing discreditable to Fischer in the above. Far from it, in fact. Yet the conversation between Vasyukov and Fischer does not ring true. Fischer would almost certainly have answered the question about his results, and Taimanov does not choose to fill in the blank. The logical supposition is that Bobby scored very well in blitz back in 1958.

At Mar del Plata 1960, Fischer and Boris Spassky buried the other competitors under the Argentine pampas by sharing first prize with the score of 13 ˝ - 1 ˝. Spassky wrote a report on the tournament. Bobby is capable of playing chess at any time of the day or night, he or a Soviet editor wrote. He can often be seen playing lightning games after a fatiguing evening session of adjournment play. The US Champion plays lightning games with pleasure and, indeed, with a gusto. The only thing that displeases him in chess is losing. In such cases the pieces are instantly set up again, for a revenge. Failure to take revenge noticeably upsets Fischer. He responds to moves hurriedly and, in an effort to calm himself, keeps repeating that he has an easily won position. Spassky also supposedly put in a plug for Soviet chess literature by claiming that Bobby immersed himself in the stuff. On one occasion, it is claimed, he noticed a bulletin of the latest USSR Championship. This brought a glint to his eyes, and he exclaimed, Thats just what I need! He asked permission to take the bulletin and immediately vanished. Fischer is one of the most diligent readers of our chess magazines. He always follows which of his games are published in our press.

Nothing in the above is implausible. What stretches credulity is that Spassky wrote much of it. The tone is not his. The snide reference to Fischers reaction to losing (without ever claiming that he actually lost many blitz games in Mar del Plata) does not sound like Spassky. Moreover, expending lots of words about Bobbys regard for Soviet publications is definitely not Spassky.

Here is how Yugoslav journalist Dmitrije Bjelica portrayed a blitz encounter between Tal and Fischer at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad, an account that appeared in the Soviet chess press:

Fischer was in the limelight at the Olympiad. Tal was late in arriving, and Bobby kept asking when the world champion was coming.

Maybe Tal doesnt want to play me? He scored four wins against me in the Candidates Tournament and is now afraid of a revenge!

But Tal did come. And although he was tired after his journey he couldnt refuse Fischer a few lightning games. They played five games, and Tal won 4:1.

But Bobby, contrary to his custom, didnt get angry because Tal promptly crushed Najdorf too, who had very much angered Bobby.

This is what happened. Najdorf had asked Fischer for an autograph. Bobby had agreed, but for one dollar. This had offended Najdorf.

Then came their game in the Olympiad. Bobby had an easily won game but made a mistake, and Najdorf was able to draw. Bobby then swept the pieces off the board in disgust, and Najdorf merely said:

Youll never play in South America again ....

The picture that Bjelica paints is a Portrait of Dorian Bobby. I do not believe that Fischer said, He [Tal] scored four wins against me in the Candidates Tournament and is now afraid of a revenge! There is the unEnglish a in front of revenge, and there is the stilted diction of Bobby dully, mechanically reciting that Tal beat him four-zip in the 1959 Candidates. There is also the claim that Bobby swept the pieces off the board against Najdorf and usually became angry when dropping blitz games. Spassky made no such claim when covering Mar del Plata 1960, and Tal would later aver forcefully, It is also important to remember that he [Fischer] was a real chess gentleman during games. He was always very fair and very correct.

BUT: the biggest problem with Bjelicas account is that it is against the laws of both Newtonian and Einsteinian physics! Bjelica has Tal and Fischer playing each other directly after Tals arrival at the Leipzig Olympiad, the first round of which was played on October 17, 1960. Bjelica then claims that Tal scored 4 - 1 but that Bobby did not become angry because Tal promptly beat Najdorf with whom Fischer was enraged because of the above mentioned autograph dispute and their game in the Olympiad. Yet that game was not played until November 4, 1960, more than two weeks after the Fischer-Tal blitz match!

Did Tal actually beat Fischer 4 - 1? Were there, perhaps, other speed sessions between the two chess greats in which Fischer triumphed? Hard to say. But what can be asserted is that Bjelicas reporting, which appeared in the Soviet press, cannot be relied upon.

Bobby Fischers first utterly stunning triumph was Stockholm 1962, the interzonal tournament in which he scored 17 ˝ - 4 ˝ to finish 2 ˝ points ahead of a field with four top Soviet grandmasters. Soviet reporting credited Fischer with a remarkable performance, but there were also the usual effusions directed against his person.

Efim Lazarev, the biographer of GM Leonid Stein, tells the following story about a speed session between Fischer and the Soviet grandmaster the night after the first round at Stockholm:

That evening, after the round, Stein came to see Geller. Fischer too dropped in. In his halting Russian he suggested a lightning chess match with Geller. Geller was clearly in a bad mood that evening [after losing to an unheralded Colombian IM], but, on hearing the offer, could not restrain a sly grin and, pointing to Stein, who was sitting modestly in a corner, said:

Play him instead.

Since Fischer had not been present at the drawing of lots and Stein had not played in the first round, the American was not acquainted with him. Geller introduced them. At first Bobby declined to play someone whom he took for a novice, someone who clearly could not be a worthy opponent at lightning chess. However, then he agreed to play Mr. Stein but added that he would not play for nothing .... Bobby proposed a small stake: 10 crowns. To equalize their chances, he offered Mr. Stein a handicap: if Mr. Stein won even two points in five games, the stake would be his.

Very well, Stein replied.

In less than 10 minutes Fischer had lost the first game. He lost the second one even faster .... Geller was laughing so that there were tears in his eyes.

The outcome surprised Fischer so that he now proposed playing on equal terms.

With much greater respect for the newcomer, he now began playing less rashly but still failed to secure an advantage. In the evenings that followed, Bobby often invited Stein, with whom he had become friendly, to new lightning chess encounters, in which first one and then the other would emerge the winner.

The above account by Lazarev, wafts with ichthyological perfume.

First, Bobby would have known the names of his opponents in the interzonal and would have prepared for games against every single one, including even those trailing in the caboose of the tournament table. Secondly, the author has Bobby addressing GM Stein as Mr. Stein, and the idea that he would not associate the two names is absurd. Thirdly, everyone is agreed that Bobby read chess literature voluminously with nearly total recall, and Steins picture had appeared in numerous magazines by 1962. Fourthly, after supposedly losing a speed match to Stein, the author still has Bobby regarding him as a newcomer rather than the strong grandmaster whom Bobby surely recognized from the very beginning or, at the very latest, after the first game between them. Finally, the author speaks of further chess encounters during succeeding evenings, claiming that first one and then the other would emerge the winner. This last phrase is meaningless, and we have no idea what the real balance of the results might have been.

After 1962, Soviet reporting on Fischers speed play falls off. There is mention of an offhand game between Fischer and Stein at Havana 1966, but not much more than that. Perhaps, the common sense conclusions which ought to be the conventional wisdom are the following: 1. Earlier Soviet reporting exaggerated Fischers problems in speed play as a ploy to imply that he was not a chess genius nonpareil; 2. By the mid-1960s (as suggested by the testimony of Jack Collins, Frank Brady and others), Fischer had become utterly formidable in five-minute chess; and 3. The Soviets stopped writing on Fischers speed play because horror stories about Bobby rolling Soviet grandmasters were unwelcome in the pages of 64 and Shakhmaty.

World Chess Championship
1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match

For the first time since 1948, a chess player from outside the Soviet Union had achieved the right to play a match for the World Chess Championship title. The opening ceremony in Reykjavik was scheduled for 1 July 1972, but on that day Robert Fischer was not in Iceland.

Fischer, who had not signed any document confirming his participation, was demanding an increase in the 125.000 US$ prize fund, as well as restrictions on television cameras.

"The Match" by Robert Byrne, Chess Life September 1972
Will There Be a Match?
The match of the century was supposed to have started Sunday, July 2, but it did not. Fischer had failed to show up in Reykjavik after two abortive attempts to board Loftleidir flights earlier in the week. Both times, press photographers had driven the camera-shy challenger back to New York City following brief appearances at Kennedy airport.
Then Bobby announced he was holding out for 30% of the gate receipts for both himself and Spassky. The Icelanders could not agree, since they had earmarked that anticipated income for expenses connected with the staging of the match.
An Angel in the Wings
Suddenly, a British chess promoter and financier, James Slater, came forward with a dazzling surprise $125,000 donation to the prize fund, matching the amount the Icelandic Chess Federation had put up, and setting the winner's slice of the purse at $156,250 and the loser's at $93,750.
But even this record purse did not bring Bobby to Reykjavik, although it more than made up for what the share of the admissions would have come to. For whatever reason, it took hours of persuasion by Bill Lombardy, Fischer's last-minute choice as second, and attorney Paul Marshall to get Bobby to go through with the match.

Fischer arrived in Reykjavik on 4 July. He apologized to Spassky, to Max Euwe, the president of FIDE, and to the organizers for having missed the opening ceremonies.

The first game was played on 11 July. Of the five games contested previously between the two players, the score was three wins for Spassky and two draws. At the appointed hour, match arbiter Lothar Schmid started the clock and Spassky played 1.d4, but Fischer was not in the Laugardalshoell Sports Exhibition Palace.

Seven long minutes passed and then Fischer arrived. He shook Spassky's hand and sat down to play. The 'Match of the Century' had finally begun.

On the 29th move, in a drawn position, Fischer captured a poison pawn, allowing his bishop to be trapped. It was a move which almost any strong player would have rejected instinctively.

Game 1 : Spassky - Fischer
after 29...Bd6-h2(xP)

Struggling with pawns against a bishop and pawns, Fischer missed a draw just before adjournment. During the second session on the following day, he left the playing area for 30 minutes to protest the presence of a television camera. After returning, he resigned on the 56th move.

That evening Fred Cramer, an official of the U.S. Chess Federation and a spokesman for Fischer, sent a letter to Schmid demanding that the television cameras be removed and that the spectators not be seated in the first few rows of the hall. Chester Fox, an American businessman who had procured filming rights, responded that the cameras were necessary to finance the match.

On 13 July, the clock was started for the second game, but Fischer was not at the board. Fox quickly accepted that the cameras be removed for at least that game. Fischer agreed to play provided that his clock was reset to zero. Schmid refused and forfeited the challenger after one hour.

Contrary to all expectations, Fischer did not leave Iceland. Was it the phone call he received from Henry Kissinger, or the many telegrams from his fans around the world? Whatever the reason, the match continued on 16 July, in a closed playing area.

The third game marked the first time that Fischer had ever beaten Spassky.

Game 3 : Spassky - Fischer
after 41...Bf5-d3+ 0-1

The players returned to the playing hall for the fourth game, where there were no television cameras. Spassky developed a strong attack, but Fischer defended well and the game was drawn.

Game 4 : Fischer - Spassky
after 21...h7-h5

Fischer won the fifth game with a nice combination and the match was even. Spassky's 2-0 lead had been erased.

Game 5 : Spassky - Fischer
after 27...Bd7-a4(xP) 0-1

During his entire career, Fischer was known for opening exclusively with 1.e4. Annotating this move in his book My 60 Memorable Games, he wrote 'Best by test', in the notes for one game, and 'I have never opened with the QP - on principle.' for another.

In game 6 Fischer played the Queen's Gambit for the first time in his life. The game continued in the Tartakover Variation, a line which Spassky had never lost, and ended in a brilliant win for White. After the game Spassky joined the 1500 spectators in applauding his opponent. 'Did you see that? That was class.', Fischer said later of Spassky's show of applause.

With three wins in the last four games, Fischer was now winning the match.

Game 6 : Fischer - Spassky
after 38.Rf5-f6(xN)

Game 7 ended in perpetual check even though Fischer had a two pawn advantage.

Game 7 : Spassky - Fischer
after 41.h3-h4

For the eighth game Fisher accepted the presence of television cameras on the condition that they be kept at least 150 feet (about 45 meters) from the chess board. He also demanded that Fox's camera team be replaced. Not wanting to jeopardize his investment, Fox sold the rights to the American television company ABC for 100.000 US$.

On the 15th move, Spassky lost the exchange. Whether it was a sacrifice or a blunder, he went on to lose the game.

Game 8 : Fischer - Spassky
after 15...b7-b5?

Trailing 5-3, Spassky took a time out for game 9. When the game was played on 1 August, it became clear that he was having difficulties with Fischer's constant psychological pressure, both on and off the board. After each move, Spassky left the stage and disappeared into the wings. The game, the shortest draw in the match, ended after 29 moves.

William Lombardy, Fischer's second, later remarked that he could not understand how Spassky could endure Fischer's behavior for even a single game. Realizing that their genial star was being beaten, the Soviet authorities attempted to recall Spassky back to Moscow. He resisted on sporting grounds.

Fischer won the tenth game, crushing Spassky's Breyer Defense (9...Nb8) in a sharply played Ruy Lopez.

Game 10 : Fischer - Spassky
after 29.Rb1-d1

For game 11, Spassky narrowed the gap to 6 1/2 - 4 1/2, winning against Fischer's Poison Pawn variation in a Najdorf Sicilian. Fischer failed to find a good plan against Spassky's 14.Nb1 innovation and was crushed.

Game 11 : Spassky - Fischer
after 21.a2-a3

After a hard fought draw in the 12th game, Fischer won the 13th with a trapped rook and five passed pawns against rook, bishop, and pawn.

Game 13 : Spassky - Fischer
after 61.Be7-f8

Game 14 was agreed drawn in a rook and pawn endgame. Game 15 began the day after Fox filed a lawsuit for 1.750.000 US$ in a New York court for damages from Fischer. Fischer's lawyers responded that the challenger had no contractual obligation with Fox. The legal maneuvering continued off the board.

The 15th game was another Sicilian Najdorf, but Fischer avoided the Poison Pawn variation which had cost him game 11. He lost a pawn early in the game, developed a strong attack, and missed a win.

Game 15 : Spassky - Fischer
after 38...Qf5-d5+
(38...Ka8 should win)

Spassky tried unsuccessfully during the 16th game to win with rook plus g- and h-pawns against rook plus g-pawn. Fischer complained again about noise from the spectators. The first three rows of seats were cleared for the next game.

In the 17th game Fischer sacrificed the exchange, but Spassky was unable to win with his material advantage. He allowed a draw by triple repetition at the beginning of the second session.

Game 17 : Spassky - Fischer
after 21...Qc5-e5

Efim Geller, Spassky's chief second, accused Fischer of using unethical means to disturb Spassky's concentration. During the night Icelandic police swept the playing hall for electronic devices. They found two dead flies in the lighting system.

The 18th game was another hard fought draw, where both players had chances throughout the game. In the 19th game, Spassky sacrificed a knight, but was unable to convert his daring play into a win.

Game 19 : Spassky - Fischer
after 18.Nc3-d5(xP)

In danger of losing the game 20, Fischer claimed a draw by triple repetition. It was the seventh consecutive draw.

Game 20 : Fischer - Spassky
after 41.Nf2-d1

Leading 11 1/2 - 8 1/2, Fischer needed a win in the 21st game to clinch the match. In a level position, Spassky blundered twice in the endgame and was lost at adjournment.

Game 21 : Spassky - Fischer
after 18...c5-c4

The next day Spassky resigned the match by telephone. Fischer at first refused to accept the legality of this, preferring the customary signing of the scoresheet. Finally he acquiesed and, on 1 September, the match was over. Fischer's victory ended 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Chess Title

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