At 13, most of us were busy with school projects, crushes, and even puberty – except for young Bobby Fischer, who won “The Game of the Century,” the year after he became the youngest Chess Champion in the United States, and a few months later, he was named the youngest grandmaster of that time. The list of his accomplishments is inexhaustible but they are all proof of his genius skill in playing the strategic board game which earned him worldwide fame.
He was obviously a child prodigy, conquering the world with his tactics in playing chess, beating bests of the bests during the time. But perhaps one of his greatest works is when he defeated Boris Spassky, a chess grandmaster from Russia, but more than just that, it was the events of the Cold War that helped him gain fame on various international platforms.
You might think that someone of Fischer’s caliber finished school with flying colors, but surprisingly, he dropped out when he was 16 to focus more on playing. Learning the rules and tricks about chess when he was 6. It’s safe to say that he knew the game like the back of his hand, so much so that this paved the way for him to devote all of his time to his passion.
However, as much as the world was fond of the brilliant man, fame eventually got over his head. Many people would describe him as eccentric, while others say he simply had a mental problem. Whichever it is, it was hard to confirm because most information about him when he was alive were limited basically because he cut off ties with people close to him that talked about him in public.
Details about him were so scarce, that these only surfaced after his death, although there was other information that didn’t see light because he didn’t let anybody know about these. So as much as he was celebrated, he hated getting unwarranted and unnecessary attention despite being a chess wizard. However, his out-of-the-blue, oftentimes questionable, and unconventional behavior and actions even made him popular.
Paranoid About the Government
One of the things that stuck with his fans was his thoughts on the US government and its agencies. People would describe him as paranoid to the point that he was delusional because of his beliefs about the conspiracies surrounding the government, however, it is worth noting that Fischer and his mom, Regina, were under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 1942, or a year prior to his birth, in relation to the matriarch’s political beliefs.
Deliberately Lost Games
He was a professional chess player who could lose a match if ever he wanted to. That’s what exactly happened when he was brought for a game with Spassky. Fischer had always accused Soviet players of intentionally drawing matches with each other, so when he and the Russian would come face to face, the American had some conditions, including no cameras and spectators during the much-awaited game.
However, officials of the game didn’t give in to Fischer’s demands so he seemingly expressed his disappointment by playing the game recklessly and thereby losing the first match. He forfeited the second one and was on his way to boarding a plane to head back to the United States when the then secretary of state begged for the genius to continue the game. The rest was history as he defeated Spassky.
Not a Fan of the Film “Searching For Bobby Fischer”
The 1993 film, which was based on the book with the same title, revolved around the real-life story of Joshua Waitzkin, a prodigy chess player. Although the movie wasn’t exactly about Fischer himself, he was angered by the fact that he didn’t receive compensation from the filmmakers. Moreover, he took ill of the inclusion of his name in the title, saying they used him to promote the project and also invaded his privacy. Needless to say, he didn’t view “Searching For Bobby Fischer” on the big screen.
Reason for PBS’ Highest Ratings
In 1972, his match with the Russian chess grandmaster was one of the most-awaited ones in history with millions of people listening in on the news that covered every move of the match. His effort to snatch the championship was covered by WNET, a New York PBS station, which created a program solely dedicated to the game, hosted by an inexperienced commentator named Shelby Lyman – this became a worldwide success and proved to be the greatest rating earner for the network.