Born on March 9th, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, Robert (Bobby) James Fischer went on to become one of, if not the most famous chess player in the world. Fischer was raised by his mother, Regina Fischer, who was a single mother of two; Bobby and Joan Fischer. At the young age of 14, Bobby Fischer went on to win his first US Championship, which would set the stage for his long and successful career in chess. Fischer even went on to thrice checkmate a computerized chess game that could not out-maneuver him.
With such a deep interest in chess, Fischer decided at the age of 16 to drop out of school because in Fischer’s words, “you don’t learn anything in school.” With an estimated IQ of somewhere between 180-187, Fischer was no match for those going up against him when it came to strategy.
In a staunch uproar in 1975, Fischer forfeited his title of World Champion based on a set of clashing ideologies based on the rules of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) at the time. After 17 more years of isolation, Fischer came out again and rematched Boris Spassky in which he astoundingly won. Fischer even went on to event his own style of a chess clock, which he patented and sold worldwide.
After running into some legal trouble in Japan, Fischer decided to move to Iceland, where he gained full citizenship and would remain there until his death on January 17th, 2008. After Fischer’s death, there was a spicy battle over his estate (amassing to $2 million USD) in which his wife, Miyoko Watai ended up taking claim after government claims.
Fischer’s first-ever chess set he had and played with was at the age of 6. His sister Joan bought the chess set for him but grew bored after a while of playing with him, leaving Bobby Fischer to play a lot of games on his own for a bit of time. After finding a chess book with detailed games in them, Fischer began to study the book at great length. When the family moved to Brooklyn in 1950, Bobby Fischer made chess his entire life.
In 1951 he joined the Brooklyn Chess Club and later the Manhattan and Hawthorne Chess Clubs (1955 and 1956, respectively). In 1956, under the direction of John “Jack” Collins, Fischer honed his skills, scoring him the 1956 US Junior Chess Championship. Two years later in 1958, at the age of 14, Fischer would claim the US Championship title. Since this match happened to be the US Zonal Championship as well, this gave Fischer the rank of International Master. In the same year, when Fischer was 15, he became a Grand Master, the youngest ever to receive the title.
From opening theories to end games, Fischer never failed to surprise an opponent on his cunning whit. Among Fischer’s top three openings were the Najdorf Sicilian, the King’s Indian Defense, Grünfeld Defense, and the Poisoned Pawn Variation. To make it a bit clearer to see, here are Fischer’s most commonly played openings in moves.
1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 a6
King’s Indian Defense
1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6
1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6
3. Nc3 d5
1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6
3. g3 d5
Poisoned Pawn Variation
1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 a6
6. Bg5 e6
7. f4 Qb6
Bobby Fischer became so proficient in chess that he even has a defense promptly named after him. This is the sequence to the Fisher Defense, which is in response to the King’s Gambit.
1. e4 e5
2. f4 exf4
3. Nf3 d6
Over the course of Bobby Fischer’s impressively long career of playing chess, he was able to rack up the number one spot in 27 tournaments, 10 matches, and 3 international team events from 1955-1972 and 1992. Playing over 750 matches throughout his career, he only lost a total of 84 of those games, an 11.2% loss percentage. 55.5% of these games were won by Fischer, and the other 33.3% ended in draws.
On top of this, Bobby Fischer won the US Championship 8 times, the most anyone has ever claimed the title. Not only that, but he never had any co-champions that shared the title with him. As previously mentioned, he’d already grabbed the title of Grandmaster by the time he was 15 in 1958.
Among one of Fischer’s most impressive winnings was at the 1972 World Championship. This match was up against Boris Spassky. Fischer originally did not want to play this game for a multitude of reasons. For one, the match was going to be held where Spassky wanted it, and not where Fischer wanted it. Fischer wanted it held in Yugoslavia, and Spassky wanted it held in Iceland, where it ultimately ended up being held. Fischer would not play unless the prize was raised. To his fortune, it was and at the time the prize was $250,000. In today’s money, that would be over $1,592,000.
Out of Fischer’s 752 matches in his career, it is needless to say that there were some very memorable and notable games amongst which he earned his claim to fame. Let’s go through some of the notable games of the prodigy.
Fischer Vs. Donald Byrne, 1956 “The Game of the Century”
Introducing one of the greatest games in the history of Chess, this is known as the Game of the Century where Fischer faced Donald Bryne in 1956. Using the Grünfeld Defense, Fischer went on to defeat Donald Byrne at the ripe old age of 13 years old. Newspapers and magazines around the world called it “the game of the century”.
Fischer Vs. Svetozar Gligorić, 1961
In Bled, Slovenia, Fischer led the charge against Svetozar Gligorić, defeating him by using the Kings’ Indian Defense, Classical Variation, and the Mar del Plata Variation. It was later rated as one of the “100 best chess games in the 20th century.” Fischer was able to win in 33 moves. 
Fischer Vs. Robert Byrne 1963/1964
Based this time in Fischer’s native state New York, Fischer demolished his opponent Robert Byrne using the Neo-Grünfeld Defense and in only 21 moves. A truly exhilarating game that brought in Fischer his 6th US Championship.
Fischer Vs. Mark Taimanov, 1971
Now going north a bit to Vancouver, Canada, Fischer in the Candidates Final went on to win all 6 matches against Mark Taimanov. Specifically, in his 4th match game, Taimanov used Taimanov Variation, based on the Sicilian Defense (e4 c5). It did not matter though, because, in 71 moves, Fischer came out on top after exchanging the rooks in the endgame.
Fischer Vs. Tigran Petrosian, 1971
Going south this time to the Buenos Aires Candidates Finals, Fischer took on Tigran Petrosian. In the 7th match, Fischer used the Taimanov defense. In a turn no one thought Fischer would take in exchange a knight for a bishop. After 34 moves, Petrosian was done for. Fischer would go on to win the 7th,8th, and 9th games and win the match.
Fischer Vs. Boris Spassky, 1972
The game that won Fischer the World Championship. Both the 6th and the 13th matches were the most notable of the entire Fischer-Spassky series. In the 6th match, Fischer used the Queen’s Gambit Declined (d4 d5, c4 e6) and the Tartakower Defense (d4 d5, c4 e6).
In the 13th match, Fischer used the Alekhine Defense (e4 Nf6) and the Modern Variation (e4 g6).
Fischer Vs. Boris Spassky, 1992
20 years later, Fischer had a rematch with Spassky and won yet again after being in retirement from chess. Altogether there were 30 games played between them in this series, with the stats coming in with Fischer winning 10-5 with 15 draws. The games were played in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After this, Fischer proclaimed himself as undefeated champion of the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did Fischer quit Chess?
Like many geniuses, Fischer has a difficult up brining and grew to suffer from mental disorders such as paranoia and erratic behavior. There are no written documents proving any diagnosis, however the majority of the people that were around him during his playing years describe similar reasons. Unfortunate events would interfere with Fischer’s Chess career. He had to withdraw from matches due to religious reasons. He wanted to play chess at the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, but couldn’t because the State Department refused to permit him to travel to Cuba. He was able to compete by Teleprinter which put him at a massive disadvantage overt the other players due to having to withstand playing sessions upwards of twelve hours.
Did Bobby Fischer dislike Chess?
Fischer had said repeatedly that he disliked and even hates Chess toward his later years in life. Not because he hated Chess in a personal preference outlook, he hated Chess because he wasted so many years on nothing but Chess. If he didn’t though, he wouldn’t be remembered today or in the future to come as one of the most brilliant Chess players in the history of the game.
What was Bobby Fischers IQ?
Bobby Fischer’s IQ was estimated to be between 180-187, which is one of the highest IQ scores a human being could have. Good Schooling definitely wasn’t a contributing factor for attaining such a high IQ. “You don’t learn anything in school”, Fischer said after making his decision to drop out of school the age of 16.