Bobby Fischer Wins World Chess Championship
In 1972, Bobby Fischer captured the World Championship from Boris Spassky of the USSR in a match widely publicized as a Cold War confrontation.
The match, held in Reykjavík, Iceland, attracted more worldwide interest than any chess match before or since. In 1975, Fischer declined to defend his title when he could not reach agreement with FIDE over the conditions for the match. He became more reclusive and did not play competitive chess again until 1992, when he won an unofficial rematch against Spassky. The competition was held in Yugoslavia, which was then under a United Nations embargo. This led to a conflict with the U.S. government, which was also seeking income tax from Fischer on his match winnings. Fischer never returned to his native country. After ending his competitive career, he proposed a new variant of chess and a modified chess timing system. His idea of adding a time increment after each move is now standard, and his variant Chess960 is gaining in popularity.
He played some of the most sublime chess ever seen. Then, as a new book and film illustrate, he disappeared from view. What made such a brilliant mind go into freefall?
How Bobby Fischer (Briefly) Changed America
This summer marks the anniversary of an extraordinary moment in U.S. history: the 1972 match in which the American genius Bobby Fischer defeated the Soviet wizard Boris Spassky for the chess championship of the world.
The battle probably should have been just one more headline in an eventful three months that saw the Watergate burglary, the expulsion of the Soviet military from Egypt and the humiliating dismissal of vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton from the Democratic ticket. Somehow the story of Fischer and Spassky and their epic match, which ended 40 years ago this month, captured our attention in a way that no struggle of intellect has since.