Bobby Fischer is perhaps the most famous world champion in chess history – because of the way he played and because of his eccentric behaviour. In 1972, 50 years ago, he became World Champion by defeating Boris Spassky in a match in Reykjavik that made headlines all over the world as the “Match of the Century”.
However, after becoming World Champion Fischer no longer played and in 1975 he refused to defend his title against Anatoly Karpov. Fischer went into hiding but in 1992 he surprisingly reappeared and played a “revenge match” against Spassky in war-torn Yugoslavia. Fischer won the match but then disappeared again. But he still made the headlines, especially when he was on some radio station hurling wild anti-Semitic abuse, mixed with insults against the US.
In 2004, the USA had Fischer arrested in Japan because he no longer possessed a valid US passport. The USA sought his extradition because Fischer had violated a US embargo against Serbia when he played his match against Spassky in 1992.
But friends in Iceland saved Fischer: they managed to get him an Icelandic passport and political asylum in Iceland. Thus, Fischer spent the last years of his life in Reykjavik where he died on 17 January 2008 from kidney failure.
Bobby Fischer had learned to play chess as a child from his older sister Joan. Joan Fischer was born in Moscow in 1937, as daughter of Regina Wender Fischer (1913-1997) and Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German biophysicist. Regina’s parents were Polish Jews and she was born in Switzerland, but she was a US citizen and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.
Hans-Gerhardt and Regina met in Moscow, were both communists and almost certainly received training as Comintern agents in Moscow. Hans-Gerhardt Fischer fought on the side of the Republicans in Spain in 1937 and went to South America during the Second World War.
In 1939 Regina Fischer went with her daughter to the USA and split from her husband who was not allowed to enter the country. Regina initially went to Chicago, where she met the Hungarian Paul Nemenyi in 1942. Bobby Fischer was born in 1943 and his father is almost certainly Paul Nemenyi. Bobby and Joan Fischer were therefore half-siblings.
No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Bobby Fischer. On this DVD, a team of experts shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion.
Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur.
In 1949, Regina, who raised her two children as a single mother, settled in New York, where Fischer learned to play chess. For his sixth birthday, Joan gave her younger brother a chess set and taught him the rules. It was the beginning of a great chess career.
Joan Fischer went to Palo Alto, California and earned a master’s degree in education at the College of Notre Dame, Belmont, California. In 1958, she married Russell Targ, a physicist and parapsychologist. The couple bought a farm in the Portola Valley in 1976 and implemented the ideas of organic farming on it. In 1998, she died of a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 60.
Joan and Russel Targ had three children, Elisabeth, Alexander and Nicholas. It was Nicholas, who decided to visit the Meltwater Champions Chess Finals in San Francisco, where he had a short meeting with Magnus Carlsen, who proved well versed in chess history by immediately remembering the name of Fischer’s sister.
Tania Sachdev took the opportunity to interview Bobby Fischer’s nephew. Nicholas Targ tells what the encounters with his uncle were like: Not particularly spectacular. Fischer occasionally came to visit, had meals with his sister’s family and played chess with his nephews. But when Bobby Fischer left his sister’s family again, he usually made something “remarkable” in the chess world.