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Bobby Fischer's Biography

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Robert James Fischer was born on 9 March 1943 in Chicago.

Bobby Fischer started playing chess at 6, and from a very young age he attended the Brooklyn Chess Club and was coached by Carmine Nigro, the club's president.

Fischer was so preoccupied by chess that his mother, Regina, took him to the Children's Psychiatric Division of the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital; but the doctor there, Harold Kline told Mrs Fischer he thought there were worse preoccupations and Bobby Fischer's zest for the game continued unabated.

In 1955, Fischer joined the Manhattan Chess Club and then the Hawthorne Chess Club where he was mentored by Jack Collins.

In July 1956, Bobby Fischer won the US junior championship - the youngest player to do so.

At 14 years and 9 months Fischer became US Champion, a title he was to gain eight times.

As his playing continued to thrive so did his personal life grow more difficult. He fell out with his mother and his disagreements with tournament organisers were escalating.

In the mid-1960s, Fischer became involved with a sect called the Worldwide Church of G-d, which led him to refuse to play during the sect's sabbath.

Fischer's run-up to the World Championship against Spassky in Rejkavik, Iceland in 1972 was extraordinary. In the Candidates quarter-final Fischer whitewashed Mark Taimanov 6-0 and then repeated the feat with a 6-0 victory in the semi-finals against Bent Larsen. To polish it off Bobby Fischer defeated former world champion Tigran Petrosian in the Candidates Final with five wins, three draws, and just one loss.

Against the backdrop of the Cold War Fischer defeated Soviet Boris Spassky in what became known as the "chess match of the century". During the match Fischer complained about the site, the prize fund, the organisers, FIDE; even to the extent of the match having to be postponed.

Fischer lost the first game and forfeited the second and then refused to play the third on the stage and insisted on playing in an ill-furnished back-room - Spassky lost the game and eventually the match.

But then Fischer withdrew from competition, and three years later, the World Chess Federation stripped him of his title for failing to defend it against Anatoly Karpov.

Since then, apart from a bizarre Fischer-Spassky rematch in Yugoslavia in 1992, which Fischer won 10-5 with 15 draws that provoked the wrath of the US government as it defied their sanctions against Yugoslavia, Fischer has not actively played chess (unless as some people including Nigel Short have posited - on the internet).

Fischer disappeared. He apparently spent several years in central Europe before moving to Tokyo.

Totally reclusive he emerged only to utter anti-Semitic rants in radio interviews and his support for the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

Fischer said of 'September 11' on a radio show in the Philippines: "This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all."

His anti-semitism was nothing new, although his mother was Jewish. In 1962 Fischer was quoted as saying: "There are too many Jews in chess. They seem to have taken away the class from the game. They don't seem to dress so nicely, you know. That's what I don't like."

In 1984, Fischer wrote an open letter to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, asking that his entry be removed, saying: "try to promote your religion on its own merits - if indeed it has any."

In 2004, Japan arrested Bobby Fischer, wanted by the US for breaking international sanctions (his Yugoslavia re-match with Spassky).

Fischer was detained at Tokyo's Narita airport, apparently with an invalid passport.

Eventually Bobby Fischer was released by the Japanese and taken in by Iceland.

There have been recent disclosures about Fischer's background, with the release of FBI files on Fischer's mother Regina. The documents seem to suggest that Fischer's actual father was a Jewish man, Dr Paul Felix Nemenyi, and not as had been assumed a German biophysicist named Gerhardt.

It seems the most savoury thing to do is to end up by concentrating on Fischer's great chess skills. Garry Kasparov states in his foreword to Agur's "Fischer - his Approach to Chess":

"Fischer's achievement is unsurpassed - the gap between him and his rivals was the widest there ever was between a World Champion and the other top-ranking players at the time. He was some 10-15 years ahead of his time in his preparation and understanding."

This article on Chessbase suggests that at his peak, Bobby Fischer was the strongest chess player of all time.

In January 2008, Bobby Fischer died after suffering from a long-term illness.

In July 2010 Bobby Fischer's body was exhumed so DNA testing could determine whether he was the father of Jinky Young from the Philippines.

Jinky's mother Marilyn claimed she had a relationship with Fischer.

Fischer left an estate worth an estimated £1.4m, but there was legal wrangling over various inheritance claims.

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