How did Bobby Fischer learn to play chess?
One of the most captivating and fascinating chess players in history was Bobby Fischer, the first and only American world chess champion.
He was a prodigy who amazed the world with his talent and skill, but he was also a mystery who puzzled the world with his behavior and views.
How did Bobby Fischer learn to play chess?
What made him so good at the game?
What influenced his chess style and personality?
In this blog post, we will explore the early life and chess career of Bobby Fischer, his chess mentors and teachers, his chess books and methods, and his chess achievements and contributions.
Here are some of the topics we will cover:
- Bobby Fischer’s childhood and family background
- Bobby Fischer’s first encounter with chess and his first chess games
- Bobby Fischer’s chess mentors and teachers: Carmine Nigro, John Collins, William Lombardy
- Bobby Fischer’s chess books and methods: My System, Modern Chess Openings, Chess Review
- Bobby Fischer’s chess achievements and contributions: U.S. Junior Champion, U.S. Champion, Grandmaster, World Champion
Bobby Fischer’s Childhood And Family Background
Bobby Fischer was born in Chicago on March 9, 1943. His mother was Regina Wender Fischer, a US citizen of Polish-Jewish descent, who worked as a nurse, teacher, and activist. His father was Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German biophysicist who left the family when Bobby was two years old. Bobby grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with his mother and older sister Joan. He had a difficult and unstable childhood, as his mother often moved from one place to another for work or study. He also had a strained relationship with his mother, who was strict and demanding. He later said that he hated her and that she never loved him.
Bobby Fischer was a bright and curious child, who showed interest in various subjects such as music, languages, science, and history. He also had a strong memory and a high IQ (estimated at 180). He attended public schools in Brooklyn, but he did not like them or fit in with his classmates. He often skipped classes or got into trouble for being rebellious or disruptive. He also suffered from bullying and loneliness. He later dropped out of high school to focus on chess.
Bobby Fischer’s First Encounter With Chess And His First Chess Games
Bobby Fischer learned to play chess at the age of six from instructions found in a chess set that his sister bought at a candy store below their apartment. He soon became obsessed with the game and played it for hours every day. He played against himself or against anyone who was willing to play with him. He also read chess books and magazines that he borrowed from the library or bought from second-hand bookstores.
Bobby Fischer played his first competitive games at the Brooklyn Chess Club and the Manhattan Chess Club, where he met other chess players of various levels and styles. He also played in local tournaments and matches, where he quickly improved his skills and gained experience. He won his first trophy at the age of eight in the Washington Junior High School tournament.
Bobby Fischer’s first major achievement was winning the U.S. Junior Chess Championship in 1956 at the age of 13, becoming the youngest Junior Champion ever at that time. The tournament win earned him a spot in the 1957 U.S. Chess Championship, where he faced the best chess players in the country.
Bobby Fischer’s Chess Mentors And Teachers: Carmine Nigro, John Collins, William Lombardy
Bobby Fischer did not have a formal chess coach or trainer, but he had several mentors and teachers who helped him develop his chess skills and knowledge. One of them was Carmine Nigro (1910-2001), a chess master and president of the Brooklyn Chess Club. Nigro met Bobby when he was seven years old at a simultaneous exhibition by Max Pavey , where Bobby lost in 15 minutes. Nigro invited Bobby to join his club and became his first chess mentor. He taught him the basics of chess strategy, tactics, openings, endgames, and etiquette. He also encouraged him to play in tournaments and matches.
Another mentor of Bobby Fischer was John Collins (1912-2001), a chess master and author who ran a famous chess salon in his Manhattan apartment. Collins met Bobby when he was 10 years old at a simultaneous exhibition by Samuel Reshevsky , where Bobby drew with the grandmaster. Collins invited Bobby to join his group of young chess players who met regularly at his apartment for training sessions and analysis. Collins became Bobby’s second chess mentor and surrogate father figure. He taught him more advanced aspects of chess theory, practice, and history. He also helped him with his education, finances, and personal problems.
A third mentor of Bobby Fischer was William Lombardy (1937-2017), a chess grandmaster and priest who was one of Bobby’s closest friends and rivals. Lombardy met Bobby when he was 11 years old at the Manhattan Chess Club, where they played several games. Lombardy became Bobby’s third chess mentor and sparring partner. He taught him how to play against different types of opponents and styles. He also accompanied him to many tournaments and matches, including his world championship match against Boris Spassky in 1972.
Bobby Fischer’s Chess Books And Methods: My System, Modern Chess Openings, Chess Review
Bobby Fischer was an avid reader of chess books and magazines, which he used to study and improve his chess knowledge and skills. He had a large collection of chess literature, which he often carried with him in a suitcase or a shopping bag. He also had a photographic memory, which allowed him to recall any position or game that he had seen or played.
One of the most influential chess books for Bobby Fischer was My System by Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935), a classic work on chess strategy and positional play. Bobby read this book when he was 12 years old and said that it changed his chess thinking. He learned how to control the center, exploit weaknesses, create pawn chains, prevent counterplay, and other concepts that shaped his chess style.
Another important chess book for Bobby Fischer was Modern Chess Openings by Walter Korn and others, a comprehensive reference work on chess openings and variations. Bobby studied this book extensively and memorized hundreds of opening lines and moves. He also experimented with different openings and created his own innovations and novelties. He became an expert on openings such as the Sicilian Defense , the King’s Indian Defense , the Ruy Lopez , and the Queen’s Gambit .
A third essential chess book for Bobby Fischer was Chess Review , a monthly chess magazine that was published from 1933 to 1969. Bobby subscribed to this magazine when he was nine years old and read every issue cover to cover. He learned from the games, articles, puzzles, and news that were featured in the magazine. He also contributed to the magazine by sending his own games, annotations, comments, and questions.
Bobby Fischer’s Chess Achievements And Contributions: U.S. Champion, Grandmaster, World Champion
Bobby Fischer achieved many remarkable feats and honors in his chess career, which made him one of the greatest and most famous chess players of all time. Here are some of his most notable achievements and contributions:
- He won eight U.S. Chess Championships , more than any other player in history. He won his first title at the age of 14 in 1957, becoming the youngest U.S. champion ever. He won his last title in 1966 with a perfect score of 11/11, the only perfect score in the history of the tournament.
- He became an international master at 14 and a grandmaster at 15, breaking several age records at the time. He qualified for the Candidates tournament in 1959, becoming the youngest player ever to reach this stage of the world championship cycle.
- He won several prestigious international tournaments , such as the Portoroz Interzonal in 1958, the Stockholm International in 1962, the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates tournament in 1959, the Buenos Aires International in 1960, the Bled International in 1961, the Stockholm Interzonal in 1962, the Capablanca Memorial in 1965, and the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal in 1970.
- He became the world chess champion in 1972 by defeating Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in Reykjavík , Iceland. He ended Spassky’s reign and broke the Soviet monopoly of the title that had lasted since 1948. He also sparked an unprecedented interest and popularity for chess, especially in the US and Iceland.
- He wrote several books and articles on chess , such as My 60 Memorable Games , which is considered as one of the best chess books ever written. He also invented Fischer random chess , also known as Chess960 , a chess variant in which the initial position of the pieces is randomized to one of 960 possible positions. He also patented a modified chess clock that added a time increment after each move, now a standard practice in top tournament and match play.
Conclusion on how did Bobby Fischer learn to play chess
Bobby Fischer learned to play chess at a young age and became a chess legend who changed the game forever. He was a brilliant and charismatic player who achieved the highest level of success and fame. He was also a troubled and controversial person who faced many challenges and conflicts. He was a paradox and a mystery, a hero and a villain, a genius and a madman.
Bobby Fischer’s story is a fascinating and tragic one, full of triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows, hopes and regrets. It is a story that teaches us about the beauty and the danger of chess, the power and the peril of talent, the glory and the cost of fame.
Bobby Fischer’s story is also a story that inspires us to pursue our dreams and passions, to challenge ourselves and our opponents, to create and to innovate, to learn and to improve, to love and to hate, to live and to die.
Bobby Fischer once said: “Chess is life.” For him, chess was indeed his life, but it was also his downfall.
Benjamin Miller is the founder and editor of The Extra Game. He plays chess, scrabble and Monopoly at a masters level. He is a board game enthusiast, publisher, designer, and reviewer with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He loves to share his passion, knowledge, and recommendations for board games with the world.