Fischer, Bobby 1943-2008 (Robert James Fischer)

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Fischer, Bobby 1943-2008 (Robert James Fischer)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 9, 1943, in Chicago, IL; died of kidney failure, January 17, 2008, in Reykjavik, Iceland. Chess master and author. Fischer made history when he was named an international grand master of chess in 1959 at the age of fifteen. He continued to win match after match until his fame as a prodigy was assured, but an alternate notoriety was never far behind. Fischer was a difficult competitor; moody and given to tantrums, he was often demanding and unpredictable. He spent years at a time out of the public eye, until 1970 when he committed himself to defeating Soviet international chess champion Boris Spassky. He succeeded in Reykjavik, Iceland, in a spectacular competition that demonstrated the excitement, tension, and prowess of an international soccer match. It also turned the game of chess into a spectator sport on a level with popular athletic stadium events. Fischer's erratic behavior continued, however, and he lost his title three years later when he declined to defend a challenge by another Soviet grand master, Anatoly Karpov. For twenty years Fischer reportedly lived in penurious anonymity and avoided chess meets, though his anti-Soviet, anti-Jewish diatribes continued to make headlines. Finally in 1992, for a huge purse of five million dollars, Fischer was lured into a rematch with Spassky in Yugoslavia, which was at the time a forbidden destination for Americans in response to the violent regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Fischer won the match but lost his homeland. He roamed the world to avoid American authorities until 2001, when his praise of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. targets and further anti-Semitic comments made his extradition desirable by U.S. authorities. Fischer's U.S. passport was revoked in 2004, and he was jailed in Japan awaiting extradition when he was granted refuge and Icelandic citizenship in 2005. He spent his last days in the city where he celebrated his greatest triumph, but far from the place he once called home. Fischer was the author of Games of Chess (1959), Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess (1966), and My Sixty Memorable Games: Selected and Fully Annotated (1969).



St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.


Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2008, sec. 4, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2008, pp. A1, A19.

New York Times, January 19, 2008, pp. A1, A28; January 24, 2008, p. A2.

Times (London, England), January 19, 2008, p. 77.

Washington Post, January 19, 2008, p. B6.

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Fischer, Bobby 1943-2008 (Robert James Fischer)

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