Bobby Fischer

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Fischer, Bobby

Fischer, Bobby (Robert James Fischer) (fĭshˈər), 1943–2008, American chess player, b. Chicago. In 1958, he became a grandmaster, the youngest to that time. In the Interzonal and Candidates' matches in 1970 and 1971 he won an unprecedented 20 straight games to qualify to challenge Boris Spassky for the world championship. When he overwhelmed Spassky in 1972, he became the only American world titlist and, according to a consensus of contemporary grandmasters, the strongest chess player in history. From then until 1992, Fischer did not play a single game of chess in public. He forfeited his world title in 1975 after a rules dispute with the International Federation of Chess, and turned down lucrative offers to play again. In 1992 he was indicted after participating in a exhibition match with Spassky in Yugoslavia, against which the United States had an economic boycott. He subsequently lived abroad as a fugitive and was arrested (2004) in Japan for traveling on a revoked passport; he was allowed to leave (2005) for Iceland after it granted him citizenship.


See his My 60 Memorable Games (1972, repr. 2009); biographies by F. Brady (1965 and 2011); D. Edmonds and J. Eldinow, Bobby Fischer Goes to War (2004); G. Kasparov, Garry Kasparov on Fischer (2005).

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Fischer, (Robert James) Bobby

(1943–  ) chess player; born in Chicago. Raised in Brooklyn after his parents divorced in 1945, he learned to play chess when he was six and won the U.S. junior and senior titles at age 14. In 1972 he captured the world championship from Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland, while competing for what was then the largest purse ($250,000) offered in any sport outside boxing. Amid praise for his "classicist" style, the win set off a short-lived U.S. chess boom. A longtime nemesis of tournament officials for his tantrums and phobias, he failed in 1975 to agree to terms for a title defense against Anatoly Karpov and was stripped of his crown by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Echecs). Afterwards he refused to compete in public, lived in virtual seclusion in the Los Angeles area, and was briefly active in the fundamentalist Worldwide Church of God.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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