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In english the name is written Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer

Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (born March 9, 1943) is a grandmaster and former world chess champion, who on September 1, 1972, became the first American chess player to win the FIDE World Chess Championship. In 1975, he officially lost the title to Anatoly Karpov when FIDE, the international chess federation, refused to accept his conditions for a title defense. Garry Kasparov wrote that of all world champions of chess, the skill gap between Fischer and his contemporaries was the largest in history. Fischer is also well known for his eccentricity, unconventional and irrational behavior, rabid anti-Semitism and outspoken political views. Despite his prolonged absence from competitive play, or perhaps because of it, Fischer is still among the best known of all chess players.

Fischer's victory over the Soviet champion Boris Spassky to win the world championship in the "Match of the Century" was seen as a symbolic victory for the West that catalyzed interest in the game internationally. His opponent was portrayed, in the United States in particular, as the product of an impersonal, mechanical, and oppressive system of state control, while Fischer was the solitary genius overcoming the Soviets' claim to dominance. As he was a national hero, Americans were willing to forgive his behavior and views as eccentricities, and in popular culture he became a symbol of the genius whose brilliance is so great that he is destroyed by it.

Early years

Robert James Fischer was born in Chicago, Illinois. His mother, Regina Wender, was a naturalized American citizen of Jewish Polish ancestry who was born in Switzerland, raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and later became a teacher, registered nurse, and physician. His father was listed on the birth certificate as Wender's first husband, Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German biophysicist; the couple married in 1933 in Moscow, U.S.S.R., where Wender was studying medicine at the First Moscow Medical Institute. Although Hans-Gerhardt Fischer is listed as the father on Robert Fischer's birth certificate, a 2002 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer stated that Fischer's biological father was Paul Felix Nemenyi, a Hungarian Jewish physicist who fled Europe after the Nazis came to power and who worked on the Manhattan Project on the development of the atomic bomb. Nemenyi paid child support for Fischer during his infancy and early childhood. Later, FBI research determined that although Fischer's mother had returned to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1939, her first husband never entered the country after that date, making it improbable that Fischer, born in 1943, was Hans-Gerhardt Fischer's child.

Although at least one of his parents was Jewish, Fischer has vehemently denied being a Jew in several public interviews, and blames the mischaracterization on a "Jewish conspiracy" to defame him. In 1984, he wrote to Encyclopedia Judaica, denying he was Jewish. (On whether Fischer should be considered to be Jewish, see Who is a Jew?.)

The Fischers divorced in 1945 when their son was two years old, and Fischer grew up with his mother and older sister, Joan. In 1948, the family moved to Mobile, Arizona, where Regina taught in an elementary school. The following year they moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Regina worked as an elementary school teacher and nurse.

In May 1949, six-year-old Fischer learned how to play chess from instructions found in a chess set that his sister bought at a candy store below their Brooklyn apartment. He saw his first chess book a month later. For over a year he played chess on his own. At age 7, he joined the Brooklyn Chess Club and was taught by the club's president, Carmine Nigro. When Fischer was 13, his mother asked John W. Collins to be his chess teacher. Collins had taught several top players, including Robert Byrne and William Lombardy. Fischer spent much time at Collins' house, and some have described Collins as a father figure for Fischer. Fischer attended but dropped out of Erasmus Hall High School together with Barbra Streisand, where many teachers remembered him as difficult. According to school records, he has an I.Q. of 180 and an incredibly retentive memory.

Playing career before 1967

Fischer's first real triumph was winning the U.S. Junior Chess Championship in July 1956. In the same year, he played several brilliant games; his game against Donald Byrne, who later became an International Master, is often referred to as "The Game of the Century".

In 1957, Fischer won the US Open Chess Championship in Cleveland, Ohio, on tie-breaking points over Arthur Bisguier. Fischer was given entry into the invitational U.S. Championship, but many predicted that he was too weak and would finish last. Instead, he finished first.

In January 1958, at age 14, Fischer became the U.S. champion. He holds the record for being the youngest to hold the title. Along with the title, he qualified to participate in the Interzonals, the next step toward challenging the World Champion. Nobody gave the young Fischer much chance of qualifying from the Interzonal, so it was a surprise when, after a good finish, he tied for fifth place. The top six places qualified for the Candidates Tournament. His result also earned him the title of International Grandmaster. At the time, he was the youngest Grandmaster in history, a record that stood until Judit Polgár of Hungary became a Grandmaster in 1991.

It was at this stage, during the Candidates Tournament in Yugoslavia in 1959, that Fischer came face to face with the Soviet chess team, which was to set the tone for the rest of his playing career. Fischer and others alleged that because of the number of "Russian" players involved in the tournament (the Soviet Union dominated international chess competition throughout most of its history), it was possible for them to agree on short draws among themselves and concentrate their full efforts on the non-Soviet contingent. Once the non-Soviets were effectively eliminated, the Soviets would then be left to fight against each other for the right to challenge the reigning World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. In interviews several years later, some Soviet players substantiated these claims. Fischer finished the tournament in the middle of the pack (12.5/28) and lost his four games against the winner of the tournament, Mikhail Tal, who also went on to defeat Botvinnik and become World Champion.

Despite Fischer's hostility toward the Soviet team, after his first visit to the Soviet Union as a teenager, the FBI suspected Fischer or his mother had been recruited as Soviet spies.

For many years Fischer remained one of the strongest non-Soviet players, together with Lajos Portisch, Svetozar Gligoric, and Bent Larsen, but did not qualify for a World Championship match. In the 1962 cycle he confidently won the Stockholm interzonal (17.5/22) but in the Candidates tournament in Curaçao he finished 4th with a score of 14 out of 27. This was a big disappointment for him, since he had been playing very strongly in the previous year and thought himself to be the favorite.

In the next cycle, Fischer did not compete. He reaffirmed his conviction that the Soviet players had a non-aggression pact and concentrated on playing against him. Therefore, he decided not to participate in the Amsterdam interzonal in 1964. He held to this decision even when FIDE changed the format of the eight-player Candidates Tournament from a round-robin to a series of knockout matches. (In the previous two cycles, FIDE had sought to address complaints of Soviet collusion by limiting the number of Soviet participants, which was a situation that Soviet chess players considered extremely unfair.) In the next cycle, at the Sousse Interzonal (1967), Fischer failed to qualify for the final stages of the World Championship due to a very controversial forfeit in which he did not play his game with Soviet IM Gipslis. It is said Fischer did not show up because he thought it unfair that he had to play so many games successively, but according to Bill Wall's biography, this was the natural result of tournament organizers constantly rescheduling his games around his religious holidays and the Sabbath.

At home, Fischer won all eight U.S. Championships that he competed in, beginning with the 1957-1958 championship and ending with the 1966-1967 championship. This string includes his win in the 1963-1964 championship, which he won with an 11-0 record, the only perfect score in the history of the tournament.

Contending for the World Championship (1969-1972)

It was the candidates' cycle that started in 1969 that put Fischer on the road to the World Championship. The first step in the championship process was the zonal tournaments around the world. The U.S. Championship that year was also the zonal, with the top three finishers qualifying for the next stage, the Interzonal. Fischer, however, had sat out the U.S. Championship because of disagreements about the tournament's format and prize fund. To enable Fischer to compete for the title, the third-place finisher, Grandmaster Pal Benko, gave up his coveted place in the Interzonal, for which he received a modest $2,000 payment from the United States Chess Federation (USCF). All the other participants also had to agree to defer to Fischer, which they did. This unusual arrangement was the work of Ed Edmondson, then the Executive Director of the USCF.

Fischer proceeded to win the Interzonal by a remarkable 3.5 points, finishing with seven consecutive wins (one by default). He continued his display of chess prowess in the Candidates matches, defeating his opponents with a lopsided series of results which still has not been equaled by the world's top players. Both Mark Taimanov (USSR) and Bent Larsen of Denmark, the second best non-Soviet player after Fischer himself, were crushed 6-0 (+6 -0 =0). Larsen later claimed in a ChessBase interview that his one-sided loss was due in part to his condition during the match: "The organizers chose the wrong time for this match. I was languid with the heat and Fischer was better prepared for such exceptional circumstances... I saw chess pieces through a mist and, thus, my level of playing was not good."

Only former World Champion Tigran Petrosian, Fischer's final opponent in the Candidates matches, made any impression against Fischer's skill and strength. Fischer won the first game to complete a remarkable streak of twenty consecutive wins, a feat which has been compared to throwing back-to-back no-hitters in baseball. Petrosian broke the streak by beating Fischer in the second game. After three draws, however, Fischer won the next four games to win the match by a comfortable score, 6.5-2.5 (+5 =3 -1). In 1971 Fischer had finally earned the right to challenge the World Champion, Boris Spassky, whom he had never beaten before.

The Match of the Century

Fischer's career-long stubbornness about match and tournament conditions was manifest in the run-up to his match with Spassky. Of the possible sites, Fischer preferred Yugoslavia while Spassky preferred Iceland. For a time it appeared that the dispute would be resolved with an unusual split schedule, putting some games in each location, but that arrangement fell through. At one point Fischer announced that he would not play the match. In answer to Fischer's objection that the prize fund was inadequate, London financier Jim Slater donated an addition of $125,000, bringing the prize fund to $250,000. For whatever reason, Fischer eventually decided to go ahead.

The match between Spassky and Fischer took place in Reykjavík, Iceland, from July through September, 1972. Fischer lost the first two games, the first on a blunder, the second by forfeit when he refused to play his game. It seemed that Fischer was going to forfeit the entire match until Spassky intervened surprisingly, and yielded to Fischer's demands to move the next game to a back room, away from the cameras. After this controversial incident, Fischer proceeded to win seven of the next 19 games, losing only one and drawing 11, for a final score of 12.5 - 8.5, to win against Spassky.

World Champion (1972-1975)

The outcome of the Match of the Century cemented two milestones in Fischer's career--the ambition of being the World Chess Champion, and being the (then) highest-rated player ever according to the Elo rating system (a rating of 2780 after the Spassky match, although he had been as high as 2785 in 1971).

The win over Spassky was also considered something of a Cold War propaganda victory for the United States, confirming as it did that the strongest player in the world, in a sport dominated by the Soviets since World War II, was now an iconoclastic American who defeated the mighty Soviet chess establishment almost single-handedly.

Break with Worldwide Church of God

Fischer gave the Worldwide Church of God $61,200 out of the $200,000 he won in the championship. However, 1972 was a year that saw prophecies by Herbert W. Armstrong go unfulfilled. Meanwhile the church was further rocked by revelations that Garner Ted Armstrong had engaged in a series of sex scandals. Fischer left the organization and publicly denounced it.

All of these events had a tremendous impact on Fischer, who felt betrayed and swindled by a church that kept the seventh day Sabbath, did not keep Easter or Christmas, but celebrated many of the days that are holy to Jews, while claiming that the Anglo-Saxon peoples constituted the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.

Publicity of chess in the United States

Fischer's winning of the title brought both him and chess tremendous publicity in the United States. The U.S. public went wild over Fischer's victory against Spassky. Fischer became an instant celebrity whose name became known by people who knew nothing about chess. He received countless product endorsement offers, had his picture featured on the cover of Life magazine, and even made an appearance on national TV. Membership in the United States Chess Federation tripled, creating what is commonly called the "Fischer Boom" years. The last time chess had been so topical among the general American public had been when Paul Morphy returned to the U.S. after beating Europe's greatest masters. More recently, his name appeared in the title of the film Searching for Bobby Fischer, about Joshua Waitzkin, a young chess prodigy. Fischer cited this film as a Jewish conspiracy's attempt to make money off his name, since he has received no royalties from it.

Fischer authored two best-selling books on chess during this time: My 60 Memorable Games (ISBN 0671214837) and Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess (ISBN 0553263153).

Fischer - Karpov 1975

Fischer was scheduled to defend his title against his challenger Anatoly Karpov in 1975. Fischer had not played any tournament games since winning the title, and he laid down numerous conditions for the match. FIDE agreed to all of his demands but two, rejecting Fischer's demands on how the match would be won. Fischer claimed the usual system (24 games with the first player to get 12.5 points winning) encouraged the player in the lead to draw games, which was not good for chess in his opinion. Fischer instead wanted a match of an unlimited number of games, with the first player to score ten wins winning the match, draws not counting. Many detractors argued that this proposal was unrealistic and would turn the match into a test of stamina rather than skill. (For these critics, the aborted "first to six wins" Karpov-Kasparov match in 1984 would later serve as confirmation.) Most controversial of all Fischer's conditions however was his demand that, in the event of each player winning nine games, the champion (Fischer in this case) would retain his title. This meant that Fischer only needed to win nine games to retain the championship, while Karpov had to win by a score of ten to eight. Because FIDE would not change the rules to give Fischer more of an advantage than previous champions had enjoyed, Fischer resigned in a cable to FIDE president Max Euwe on June 27, 1974:

"As I made clear in my telegram to the FIDE delegates, the match conditions I proposed were non-negotiable. Mr. Cramer informs me that the rules of the winner being the first player to win ten games, draws not counting, unlimited number of games and if nine wins to nine match is drawn with champion regaining title and prize fund split equally were rejected by the FIDE delegates. By so doing FIDE has decided against my participating in the 1975 world chess championship. I therefore resign my FIDE world chess champion title. Sincerely, Bobby Fischer."

Fischer disappeared and did not play competitive chess for nearly twenty years.

Disappearance and aftermath

In 1982, Fischer's pamphlet (published under the name Robert D. James) I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse! was published, detailing Fischer's experiences following his arrest in 1981 after being mistaken for a wanted bank robber. It alleges that he was treated brutally at the hands of the police. He was eventually charged with damaging prison property (specifically, one mattress.) In 1984, Fischer wrote to the editors of the Encyclopedia Judaica asking that his name be removed from the publication, claiming he was not Jewish

After 20 years of not competing publicly, Fischer emerged from isolation to challenge Spassky (then placed 96-102 on the rating list) to a "Revenge Match of the 20th Century" in 1992. This match – which was played with his new clock (see "Chess innovations", below) – took place in Sveti Stefan, FR Yugoslavia, in spite of a severe UN embargo which included sanctions on sports events. Fischer, who insists to this day that he is still the World Champion because he never lost a title match, demanded that the organizers bill the match as "The World Chess Championship," although at this time Garry Kasparov was the recognized FIDE champion. The purse for this match was reported to be $5 million, with two-thirds to go to the winner. The United States Treasury department informed Fischer, before the match, that his participation was against the law, and, following the match, obtained an arrest warrant for him. Fischer won the match, 10 wins to 5, with 15 draws. Many grandmasters observing the match said that Fischer was past his prime. In the book Mortal Games, Garry Kasparov wrote: "He is playing ok. Around 2600 or 2650. It wouldn't be close between us." Fischer has not played any competitive chess since the 1992 match.

Since 1972, Fischer has occasionally given interviews, but only if they are broadcast live. In 1999 Fischer gave a call-in interview to a radio station in Budapest, Hungary during which he described himself as the "victim of an international Jewish conspiracy." The Budapest station eventually cut him off, but a similar episode occurred after the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks.

Fischer gave a broadcast interview to Pablo Mercado and Grandmaster Eugenio Torre on the Philippine radio station Radio Bombo in which he confirmed his anti-Americanism and his anti-Semitism (he regards USA as a power controlled by evil Jewish people). Bobby Fischer openly stated on September 11th 2001 that he was happy and applauded the attacks on New York, which he regarded as historically fair: "I just can't be crying about the US , you know.. All the crimes the US is committing all over the world. This just shows, what goes around, that comes around even to the United States. [...] Yes, I applaud the act. Look nobody gets.. no one.. that the US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Robbing and slaughtering for years and treating everyone like shit. Now it is coming back at the US. Fuck the US, I wanna see the US wake up.."

In another Philippine broadcast, he applauded the September 11 attacks. "This is all wonderful news," Fischer said. "I applaud the act. The U.S. and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians, just slaughtering them for years. Robbing them and slaughtering them... Now it's coming back to the U.S." In 2003, Fischer's United States Chess Federation membership was revoked following these comments, although it's unclear whether Fischer knew any details of the September 11 attack when he made these statements that day.

Similar anti-Semitic broadcasts were made through a station in Iceland. Fischer made disparaging remarks about the political situation in chess, alleging that every World Championship match since he had left the scene in 1975 had been pre-arranged.

Fischer's sudden re-emergence was apparently triggered when some of his belongings, which had been stored in a Pasadena, California storage unit, were sold by the landlord who claimed it was in response to nonpayment of rent. Fischer claimed this was further evidence of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy perpetrated by "the Jew-controlled U.S. Government" to defame and destroy him. In 2005, some of Fischer's belongings were auctioned on eBay.

For some years Fischer was reportedly living in Budapest, where he became acquainted with the Jewish Polgár family and coached them, and later on in Japan.

Detention in 2004 and 2005

On July 13, 2004, Fischer was arrested at Narita International Airport in Narita, Japan near Tokyo for allegedly using a revoked U.S. passport while trying to board a Japan Airlines flight to Ninoy Aquino International Airport near Manila, Philippines. Fischer used a genuine passport that the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland issued to him in 1997, but which was allegedly revoked in 2003, though Fischer denies this.

He has been wanted by the United States government since 1992 when he played a chess match with Spassky in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which violated the presidential executive order #12810 of George H. W. Bush based on UN sanctions against engaging in economic activities in Yugoslavia. Fischer's supporters have stated that other U.S. citizens were present at the match, specifically reporters, and were not prosecuted. They also have stated that although Japan and the United States have a mutually binding extradition treaty, Fischer should not have been deported, as violating a U.S. executive order is not a violation of Japanese law. Tokyo-based Canadian journalist and consultant John Bosnitch set up the "Committee to Free Bobby Fischer" after meeting Fischer at Narita airport and offering to assist him. Bosnitch was subsequently allowed to participate as a friend of the court by an Immigration Bureau panel handling Fischer's case. He then worked to block the Japanese Immigration Bureau's efforts to deport Fischer to the United States and coordinated the legal and public relations campaign to free Fischer until his eventual release.

Fischer renounced his U.S. citizenship, according to the AFP. The following month, it was reported that Fischer would be marrying Miyoko Watai, the President of the Japanese Chess Association, with whom he has been living since 2000. He later said he married her in order to aid his chances of being allowed to stay in Japan. He also appealed to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell to help him renounce his citizenship.

Under pressure from the U.S., Japan's Justice Minister rejected Fischer's appeal that he be allowed to remain in the country and ordered him deported.

Icelandic citizenship

Seeking ways to evade deportation to the U.S., Fischer wrote a letter to the government of Iceland in early January 2005, asking for Icelandic citizenship. Sympathetic to Fischer's plight – but reluctant to grant him the full benefits of citizenship – Icelandic authorities granted him an alien's passport. When this proved insufficient for the Japanese authorities, the Alþingi agreed unanimously to grant Fischer full citizenship in late March for humanitarian reasons as they felt he was being unjustly treated by the U.S. and Japanese governments. Meanwhile, the U.S. government filed charges of tax evasion against Fischer in an effort to prevent him from traveling to Iceland.

Fischer also attempted to receive Serbian citizenship but was denied.

As confirmation of Fischer's new citizenship reached Japanese authorities, they agreed to let him out of custody to fly to his new home country. Although Iceland has an extradition treaty with the U.S., according to Icelandic law, Icelandic citizens may not be extradited from Iceland and they reaffirmed their perception that the U.S. government had singled Fischer out for his political statements.

Shortly before his departure to Iceland on March 23, 2005, Fischer and Bosnitch appeared briefly on the BBC World Service, via a telephone link to the Tokyo airport from where he departed for Iceland. Bosnitch stated that Fischer would never play traditional chess again and Fischer began by denouncing President Bush as a criminal. He then stated that he would appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court but that he would not return to the U.S. while the current administration is in power. He denounced Japan as a puppet of the U.S. Bosnitch added that Fischer now considered his home to be Iceland. With that, Bosnitch shouted "Bon voyage!" to Fischer as he left to board the aircraft for his new home. He was welcomed by a crowd in Reykjavík.

In May 2005, a delegation, including Boris Spassky, visited Iceland with the intent of "drawing Fischer back to the chessboard." Fischer appeared interested in playing a Fischer Random Chess match against a "worthy opponent." Spassky said that he was not planning to play Fischer.

Chess innovations

Fischer made several contributions to chess theory. In particular, his popularization of Black side of the so-called "Poisoned Pawn" variation of the Sicilian Najdorf Defense (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6!) Fischer's plan of quickly developing the Queen and snatching a Pawn challenged then conventional opening principles, but through rigorous analysis, Fischer was able to prove that the variation was sound.

He also wrote an article titled "A Bust to the King's Gambit" in 1961 for the first issue of Larry Evans' American Chess Quarterly, after being beaten with the black pieces in this opening by Boris Spassky, in their first ever game against each other. Reportedly, Fischer was so enraged by this loss that he immediately started working out how to make the King's Gambit more favorable for Black. After its publication, the opening was seen even less frequently in master level games, although Fischer himself employed the White side of the King's Gambit in the 1963 U.S. Championship - against Evans.

In 1988, Fischer filed for U.S. Patent 4,884,255 for a new type of digital chess clock. Fischer's clock gave each player a fixed period of time at the start of the game and then added a small amount after each move. Soon, the Fischer clock became the standard in most major chess tournaments. The patent expired in November of 2001 because of overdue maintenance fees.

On June 19, 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fischer announced and advocated a variant of chess called Fischer Random Chess, now referred to as Chess960, that is intended to avoid the problem of having to memorize many opening variations in order to obtain chess mastery.

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File last modified on 2016-5-11
Contributor : devassal thibault

See also this article on Wikipedia : Bobby Fischer

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