20 amazing facts about the extraordinary life of Bobby Fischer

In honor of his birthday (March 9th 1943) we will uncover 20 interesting facts about Robert James Fischer, also known as ‘Bobby’ Fischer.

Bobby Fischer was an eccentric and odd person who was on the edge of both genius and insanity. He managed to rapidly ascend into the world of chess and just as quickly disappeared again into complete seclusion from the world’s public.


  1. Bobby Fischer had an IQ of 187 as well as a photographic memory
  2. Fischer’s biographer is convinced that he was suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome which is a kind of an autistic condition
  3. At an age of only 13 years old, Bobby played the so-called duel of the century against Donald Byrne and became youngest Junior Champions of all time
  4. At 14 years old (1958) he became US Champion for the first time – as the youngest player ever
  5. At 15 Bobby Fischer was announced youngest Chess Grandmaster and World Championship candidate
  6. Fischer left school as early as possible (at 16 years), as he considered school lessons a waste of time. Instead, he taught himself several foreign languages in order to be able to read foreign publications
  7. From 1957 to 1966 he won the US American Championship eight times in a row
  8. At 20 years old (1964) he achieved to win the US Championship with 11 out of 11 points – the only one to ever accomplish this task.
  9. Two years later he published the textbook “Bobby Fischer teaches Chess” in which readers can solve 275 checkmate exercises themselves. Until today, more than 1,000,000 copies have been sold which makes this book the commercially most successful chess book of all time
  10. Fischer became the first official player with No. 1 Ranking (FIDE) in 1971 and held this position for 54 months
  11. The same year he reached the highest ELO of 2785 that was ever reached until that point in time
  12. With the worldwide biggest interest, the public followed the match of Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky (so-called “Third World Confrontation”) in 1972 in which Fischer gained the World Championship title in Reykjavik
  13. In 1975, Fischer was supposed to defend his World Championship title from challenger Anatoli Karpov. This duel was never carried out, as the FIDE was not able to meet Fischer’s 179 (!!) requirements that differed from the usual set of rules for tournaments. Fischer’s title was therefore denied by the FIDE.
  14. After the World Championship tournament in 1972, Bobby Fischer did not play chess in public for about 20 years.
  15. Though he was considered a genius in matters of chess, he was always an object of critique in terms of human behavior. He made several anti-Semitic and anti-American comments
  16. Fischer became a member of a cult and went underground in Pasadena, California for several years
  17. Bobby Fischer’s FBI file is 900 pages long
  18. An American arrest warrant against him and a global search for him in 2004 hit the headlines of newspapers all over the world and ended in Tokyo with a stay in prison
  19. Fischer held Icelandic citizenship and spent the last few years prior to his death (17.01.2008) withdrawn in Reykjavik
  20. His early death is a consequence of his refusal for medical treatment. He severely distrusted pharmaceutical products and doctors. Thus, he had one of his dental prostheses removed as he suspected a Russian microwave transmitter underneath it.


Picture Bobby Fischer: chessmastercoach.com

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe