Bobby Fischer

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I'm not as soft or as generous a person as I would be if the world hadn't changed me.

Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (March 9 1943January 17 2008) was a US-born chess Grandmaster who later renounced his US citizenship and became an Icelandic citizen in March 2005. He was World Chess Champion from 1972 to 1975.


Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.
I'm not afraid of him, he's afraid of me.
I am the best player in the world, and I am here to prove it.
I object to being called a chess genius because I consider myself to be an all around genius who just happens to play chess, which is rather different.


  • White can always play differently, in which case he merely loses differently.

Portrait of a Genius As a Young Chess Master (1961)


Interview with Ralph Ginzburg, "Portrait of a Genius As a Young Chess Master", Harper Magazine (January 1962)

They have nothing on me, those guys. They can't even touch me. Some people rate them better than me. That really bugs me. They think that no Americans play chess. When I meet those Russian patzers I'll put them in their place.
  • You don't learn anything in school. It's just a waste of time. You lug around books and all and do homework. They give too much homework. You shouldn't be doing homework. Nobody's interested in it. The teachers are stupid. They shouldn't have any women in there. They don't know how to teach. And they shouldn't make anyone go to school. You don't want to go, you don't go, that's all. It's ridiculous. I don't remember one thing I learned in school. I don't listen to weakies. My two and a half years in Erasmus High I wasted. I didn't like the whole thing. You have to mix with all those stupid kids. The teachers are even stupider than the kids. They talk down to the kids. Half of them are crazy. If they'd have let me, I would have quit before I was sixteen.
  • I don't like American girls. They're very conceited, you know. In Europe they're more pleasant.
  • Sometimes girls write me. One girl in Yugoslavia sent me a whole slew of love letters. I don't know how she got my address. She was in a crowd watching me play. She says when I left there the stars fell out of the sky over Yugoslavia, or something like that.
  • They're all weak, all women. They're stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know. They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man. There isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds to and still beat.
  • I read a book lately by Nietzsche and he says religion is just to dull the senses of the people. I agree.
  • Yeah, there are too many Jews in chess. They seem to have taken away the class of the game. They don't seem to dress so nicely, you know. That's what I don't like.
  • Part Jewish. My mother is Jewish.
    • responding to the question "You're Jewish, aren't you?"
  • I'm not as soft or as generous a person as I would be if the world hadn't changed me.
  • I don't keep any close friends. I don't keep any secrets. I don't need friends. I just tell everybody everything, that's all.
  • They have nothing on me, those guys. They can't even touch me. Some people rate them better than me. That really bugs me. They think that no Americans play chess. When I meet those Russian patzers I'll put them in their place.
Best by test.
  • When I was eleven, I just got good.
  • Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.
  • Best by test.
    • On 1.e4
  • I have never opened with the QP – on principle.
    • On 1.d4
  • Patzer sees a check, gives a check.


  • I'll play a lot, stake matches. Not like the Russians. They win the championship and then hide for three years. Every few months, anyway twice a year, I'd like to get up a purse and meet a challenger. It's good for the game, keeps up interest in chess, and it's good for the bank account. I want to get some money together. Like take professional football. All these athletes making hundreds of thousands of dollars. Contracts, endorsements. If there's room for all of them, there ought to be room for one of me. I mean, after all, I'm a great goodwill ambassador for the United States!
    • Interview by Brad Darrach for Life Magazine, 1971 [1]
  • I am the best player in the world, and I am here to prove it.
    • In Chess Digest Magazine, Vol. 4 (1971), p. 263
  • I have a minus score (against Spassky). I lost 3 and drew 2. I was better than him when I lost those games. I pressed for the win. My overall tournament record is much better than his. I'm not afraid of him, he's afraid of me.
    • Interview prior to world championship match, 1972 [2]
  • I'm not afraid of Spassky. The world knows I'm the best. You don't need a match to prove it.



Interview for Ambassador Report, 1977 BOBBY FISCHER SPEAKS OUT!

I think once you start distrusting your own mind you're finished.
  • Our mind is all we've got. Not that it won't lead us astray sometimes, but we still have to analyze things out within ourselves.
  • Most people are sheep, and they need the support of others.
  • I had some personal problems, and I started listening to a lot of radio ministers. I listened every Sunday all day, flipping the dial up and back. So, I heard just about every guy on Sunday. And then I heard Mr. Armstrong, and I said, "Ah, God has finally shown me the one, I guess."
  • Well, I kind of split my life into two pieces. One was where my chess career lies. There, I kept my sanity, so to speak, and my logic. And the other was my religious life. I tried to apply what I learned in the church to my chess career too. But I still was studying chess. I wasn't just "trusting in God" to give me the moves.
  • (The Worldwide Church of God) cleaned my pockets out frankly. I have some money left, but not that much. I've got some assets. It's amazing they didn't get everything. Now my only income is a few royalty checks from my books. I was really very foolish, but I thought I was doing what I had to do. When I sent those checks off, I really didn't have the slightest qualms, no regrets, not the slightest. I don't really regret it that much, to tell you the truth, even now.
  • I can remember times coming home from a chess club at four in the morning when I was half asleep and half dead and forcing myself to pray an hour and study (the Bible) an hour. You know, I was half out of my head-stoned almost.
  • Church members shouldn't let themselves be confused. They begin not trusting in their own judgment, and then they're finished. That's a terrible, terrible thing. First, they get conducted in with a nice sweet program, no money, everything free, free, free. And then they get sucked in, and suddenly a few lies get mixed in. They are told that their human nature is wicked and these nice people who gave them all these things wouldn't be lying to them, would they? And then I think once you start distrusting your own mind you're finished. From there you just get more and more confused. Once you think that your own mind is not your friend any more-your own conscience and your own mind is not your friend-then I think you are on your way to insanity. You have been stripped bare. All your defenses are gone.



1984 letter to Encyclopedia Judaica



  • "I don't know when, but I think we are approaching that [the end of chess] very rapidly. I think we need a change in the rules of chess. For example, I think it would be a good idea to shuffle the first row of the pieces by computer ... and this way you will get rid of all the theory. One reason that computers are strong in chess is that they have access to enormous theory ... I think if you can turn off the computer's book, which I've done when I've played the computer, they are still rather weak, at least at the opening part of the game, so I think this would be a good improvement, and also just for humans. It is much better, I think, because chess is becoming more and more simply memorization, because the power of memorization is so tremendous in chess now. Theory is so advanced, it used to be theory to maybe 10 or 15 moves, 18 moves; now, theory is going to 30 moves, 40 moves. I think I saw one game in Informator, the Yugoslav chess publication, where they give an N [theoretical novelty] to a new move, and I recall this new move was around move 50. ... I think it is true, we are coming to the end of the history of chess with the present rules, but I don't say we have to do away with the present rules. I mean, people can still play, but I think it's time for those who want to start playing on new rules that I think are better."
    • Press Conference, (September 1, 1992) [4]
  • Karpov, Kasparov, Korchnoi have absolutely destroyed chess by their immoral, unethical, prearranged games. These guys are really the lowest dogs around, and if people knew the truth about them, they would be held in more contempt than Ben Johnson, the runner, and they're going to know the truth when I do this book!
    • Press Conference, September 1 1992 [5]
  • First of all, we have to understand what communism is. I mean, to me, real communism, the Soviet communism, is basically a mask for Bolshevism, which is a mask for Judaism.
    • Press Conference, September 1 1992 [6]
  • What is going on is I am being persecuted night and day by the Jews, for telling it like it is. They want to put me in jail, they're robbing me of everything I have, they're continuously lying about me. I've had enough of this shit. The latest thing they've done is I had some stuff in storage back in Pasadena for 12 years, spent a fortune on storage fees, a fortune on safes... and these God-damn Jews in America have just gone and grabbed it all.
    • Radio Interview, January 13 1999 [7]
  • They're lying bastards. Jews were always lying bastards throughout their history. They're a filthy, dirty, disgusting, vile, criminal people.
    • Radio Interview, March 10 1999 [8]
  • My main interest right now is to expose the Jews. This is a lot bigger than me. They're not just persecuting me. This is not just my struggle, I'm not just doing this for myself... This is life and death for the world. These God-damn Jews have to be stopped. They're a menace to the whole world.
    • Radio Interview, March 10 1999 [9]
  • I have a crazy quirk, Eugene. I like to say what I think. And if you're gonna work for the Jews, you can no longer say what you think. You can't say the holocaust never happened, for example. That is an absolute no-no. You can't say that circumcision is a crime. There are so many things you cannot say once you get on the Jewish bandwagon. … There used to be a lot of people like me, but little by little the Jewish spirit seems to be conquering all.
    • Speaking to Eugene Torre on Bombo Radyo Philippines, May 24 1999 [10]
  • I would rather be free in my mind, and be locked up in a prison cell, than to be a coward and not be able to say what I want.
    • Radio Interview, May 24 1999 [11]
  • America is totally under control of the Jews, you know. I mean, look what they're doing in Yugoslavia... The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense are dirty Jews.
    • Radio Interview, May 24 1999 [12]
  • The Jews have been hardened against Christ, against decency for thousands of years... They're gonna have to be annihilated, Eugene.
    • Speaking to Eugene Torre, Radio Interview, May 24 1999 [13]
  • I studied that first Karpov-Kasparov match for a year and a half before I cracked it, what they were doing, and discovered that it was all prearranged move-by-move. There's no doubt of it in my mind.
    • Radio Interview, June 27 1999 [14]
  • I love chess, and I didn't invent Fischerrandom chess to destroy chess. I invented Fischerrandom chess to keep chess going. Because I consider the old chess is dying, it really is dead. A lot of people come up with other rules of chess-type games, with 10x8 boards, new pieces, and all kinds of things. I'm really not interested in that. I want to keep the old chess flavor. I want to keep the old chess game. But just making a change so the starting positions are mixed, so it's not degenerated down to memorization and prearrangement like it is today.
    • Radio Interview, June 27 1999 (see 2:18 - 3:03) [15] (also see here from 39:04 - 39:49) [16]
  • The United States is supposed to be a government of laws, not people. But that's a lot of shit. The United States is totally controlled by dirty Jews. And these are ruthless, lawless, criminal people. They've been mutilating their kids for thousands of years, cutting off a piece of their penis. That's illegal too, but that never stopped the dirty Jews.
    • Radio Interview, June 27 1999 [17]
  • They are subhuman. They are the scum of the Earth. When you talk about Jews, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel of humanity.
    • Radio Interview, October 16 1999 [18]


  • I object to being called a chess genius because I consider myself to be an all around genius who just happens to play chess, which is rather different. A piece of garbage like Kasparov might be called a chess genius, but he's like an idiot savant. Outside of chess he knows nothing.
    • Radio Interview, July 6 2001 [19]
  • I was in Japan a couple of months ago, I saw a preview for the movie Pearl Harbor. And they showed the Japanese airplanes coming in to bomb Pearl Harbor, and I applauded. Nobody else in the theater applauded.
    • Radio Interview, July 6 2001 [20]
  • I'm very concerned because I think the Jews want to drive the elephants to extinction because the trunk of an elephant reminds them of an uncircumcised penis. I'm absolutely serious about that... Jews are sick, they're mental cases.
    • Radio Interview, July 6 2001 [21]
  • Look at all I've done for the US. Nobody has single-handedly done more for the US image than me, I really believe this. When I won the World Championship in '72, the United States had an image of, you know, a football country, baseball country, but nobody thought of it as an intellectual country. I turned all that around single-handedly, right? But I was useful then because there was the Cold War, right? But now I'm not useful anymore, you see, the Cold War is over, and now they want to wipe me out, steal everything I have, put me in prison, and so on.
    • Radio Interview, September 11 2001 [22]
  • Look at the history of the (United States). The history of the country is basically what? Get something for nothing, right? Take, kill. They invaded the country, they robbed the land of the American Indians, they killed almost all of them off... That's the history of the United States. A despicable country.
    • Radio Interview, September 11 2001 [23]
  • You know I'm finished with the old chess because it's all just a lot of book and memorization you know.
    • Radio Interview, January 27 2002 [24]
  • I follow the old chess, I follow all the pre-arranged matches, like the last Kramnik-Kasparov match. At the highest level it is all pre-arranged, move by move. You have very interesting, beautiful pre-arranged games being created by very intelligent players, working with computers, working in teams. I have no objections to people creating such games, but they must say these are pre-arranged games, but they must not claim that they are finding the moves over the board.
    • Radio Interview, January 27 2002 [25]
  • * "The old chess is you're banging your head against the wall with this theory. (...) You were trying to find some little improvement on move 18 or 20. It's ridiculous. It gets harder and harder and harder. You need more and more computers. You need more and more people working for you." 2005
  • I was going to do a book about the first prearranged Karpov-Kasparov match, '84-'85. But the God-damn Jews have stolen my entire file on that.
    • Radio Interview, January 27 2002 [30]
  • Jews hate nature and the natural order, because it's pure and beautiful, and also because it's bigger and stronger than they are, and they feel that they can not fully control it. Nature's beauty and harmony stands in stark contrast to their squalidness and ugliness, and that makes them hate it all the more. Jews are destroyers. They are anti-humans.
    • Radio Interview, February 19 2005 [31]
      I studied that first Karpov-Kasparov match for a year and a half before I cracked it, what they were doing, and discovered that it was all prearranged move-by-move. There's no doubt of it in my mind.
      Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorization and prearrangement. It’s a terrible game now. Very uncreative.
  • I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. So I'm too old, it's too late for me to adjust to the new world, the new world order.
    • Interview en-route to Iceland, March 24, 2005 [32]
  • Bobby Fischer was asked about his arrest in Japan. He responded: "This was not an arrest. This was a kidnapping. This was all cooked up by Bush and Koizumi. They are all war criminals. They should be hung."
    • Interview en-route to Iceland from Japan, March 24 2005 [33] [34]
  • The United States is an illegitimate country, just like Israel. It has no right to exist. That country belongs to the Red man, the American Indian... It's actually a shame to be a so-called American, because everybody living there is a usurper, an invader taking part in this crime, which is to rob the land, rob the country and kill all the American Indians.
    • Interview en-route to Iceland, March 24 2005 [35] [36]
  • The United States is evil. The United States has this 'axis of evil', blah blah blah. What about the 'allies of evil' – What about the United States, England, Japan, Australia and so on? These are the evildoers.
  • Kasparov is a gangster, he is a disgrace to chess, he is a disgrace to the human race. He is not something Russia should be proud of. He should join Khodorkovsky in prison. He has committed a terrible fraud with all these prearranged games and matches.
    • Radio Interview, May 15 2005 [40]
  • In chess so much depends on opening theory, so the champions before the last century did not know as much as I do and other players do about opening theory. So if you just brought them back from the dead they wouldn’t do well. They’d get bad openings. You cannot compare the playing strength, you can only talk about natural ability. Memorization is enormously powerful. Some kid of fourteen today, or even younger, could get an opening advantage against Capablanca, and especially against the players of the previous century, like Morphy and Steinitz. Maybe they would still be able to outplay the young kid of today. Or maybe not, because nowadays when you get the opening advantage not only do you get the opening advantage, you know how to play, they have so many examples of what to do from this position. It is really deadly, and that is why I don’t like chess any more.
    • Radio Interview, October 16 2006 [41]
  • [Capablanca] wanted to change the rules already, back in the twenties, because he said chess was getting played out. He was right. Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorization and prearrangement. It’s a terrible game now. Very uncreative.
    • Radio Interview, October 16 2006 [42]
  • Morphy and Capablanca had enormous talent, they are two of my favorites. Steinitz was very great too. Alekhine was great, but I am not a big fan of his. Maybe it’s just my taste. I’ve studied his games a lot, but I much prefer Capablanca and Morphy. Alekhine had a rather heavy style, Capablanca was much more brilliant and talented, he had a real light touch. Everyone I’ve spoken to who saw Capablanca play still speak of him with awe. If you showed him any position he would instantly tell you the right move. When I used to go to the Manhattan Chess Club back in the fifties, I met a lot of old-timers there who knew Capablanca, because he used to come around to the Manhattan club in the forties – before he died in the early forties. They spoke about Capablanca with awe. I have never seen people speak about any chess player like that, before or since. Capablanca really was fantastic. But even he had his weaknesses, especially when you play over his games with his notes he would make idiotic statements like 'I played the rest of the game perfectly.' But then you play through the moves and it is not true at all. But the thing that was great about Capablanca was that he really spoke his mind, he said what he believed was true, he said what he felt.
    • Radio Interview, October 16 2006 [43]

Unknown date

  • Teach people to play new chess, right away. Why do you offer them a black and white television set, when there is a set in color?
    • in the only meeting with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, responding to the latter advocating "step by step" changes mindful of the heritage of chess (between September 1, 1992 and 2002) Gligorić (2002), p. 71.

Quotes about Fischer

What I admired most about him was his ability to make what was in fact so difficult look easy to us. I try to emulate him. ~ Magnus Carlsen
The loneliest chess champion in the world. He is also the strongest player in the world. In fact, the strongest player who ever lived. ~ Larry Evans
Fischer's beautiful chess and his immortal games will stand forever as a central pillar in the history of our game. ~ Garry Kasparov
It is difficult to play against Einstein's theory. ~ Mikhail Tal


  • Fischer has become more virulently anti-Jewish since ceasing to play competitive chess. In denying himself chess, therefore, is he, in fact, denying his own Jewishness? As Cockburn writes: 'No player has ever been such a walking advertisement for the Freudian interpretation of chess.'
    • The Observer (9 May 1999)


  • Bobby is a tragic personality... He is an honest and good natured man. Absolutely not social. He is not adaptable to everybody’s standards of life. He has a very high sense of justice and is unwilling to compromise as well as with his own conscience as with surrounding people. He is a person who is doing almost everything against himself. I would not like to defend or justify Bobby Fischer. He is what he is. I am asking only for one thing. For mercy, charity. If for some reason it is impossible, I would like to ask you the following: Please correct the mistake of President François Mitterand in 1992. Bobby and myself committed the same crime. Put sanctions against me also. Arrest me. And put me in the same cell with Bobby Fischer. And give us a chess set.
    • Boris Spassky [[44]] in an appeal to George W. Bush, August 7 2004 [45] Fischer is said to have responded to news of this letter with "I don't want him in my cell. I want a chick in my cell."
  • What I admired most about him was his ability to make what was in fact so difficult look easy to us. I try to emulate him.
  • Among this year’s worst news, for me, was the death of Bobby Fischer. Telling a friend this, I got, “Are you out of your bloody mind? He was a Nazi-praising raving lunatic and anti-Semite. Death is too good for him.” He did, indeed, become all that. But none of it describes the man I knew. Towering genius, riches, international fame and a far from normal childhood might be too heady a mix for anyone to handle. For him they proved fatal. I’m still sad about his death. In our three encounters on my late-night show, I became quite fond of him.
  • It must seem strange to people too young to remember that there was once a chess champion – of all things – who became arguably the most famous celebrity on earth. And that his long-anticipated match against the reigning Russian champion, Boris Spassky, was broadcast and watched worldwide as if it were the Super Bowl, except that chess drew a much bigger audience. … We ordinary mortals can only try to imagine what it might feel like to be both young and so greatly gifted at a complex art. And to be better at it than any other living being, past or present. There are plenty of geniuses and lots of famous people, but few are both. Is anyone really capable of surviving such a double burden?
    We assume that geniuses are blessed creatures who don’t have to work hard to achieve their goals. Hard for us, easy for them. But Bobby as a kid – IQ pushing 200 – put in 10 to 15 hours a day of brain power and heavy concentration that would kill an ordinary person. (Or at least me.)
    The chess world was already well aware of this kid prodigy. But they were unprepared for him to suddenly go up against the acknowledged top player of the day in the United States Chess Championship. And win – at the age of thirteen. When asked what happened, he said, “I got better.”
    • Dick Cavett, in "Was It Only a Game?" in The New York Times (8 February 2008)
  • The most individualistic, intransigent, uncommunicative, uncooperative, solitary, self-contained and independent chess master of all time, the loneliest chess champion in the world. He is also the strongest player in the world. In fact, the strongest player who ever lived.
  • It is difficult to play against Einstein’s theory.
  • In his play, Fischer was amazingly objective, long before computers stripped away so many of the dogmas and assumptions humans have used to navigate the game for centuries. Positions that had been long considered inferior were revitalized by Fischer’s ability to look at everything afresh. His concrete methods challenged basic precepts, such as the one that the stronger side should keep attacking the forces on the board. Fischer showed that simplification—the reduction of forces through exchanges—was often the strongest path as long as activity was maintained. The great Cuban José Capablanca had played this way half a century earlier, but Fischer’s modern interpretation of “victory through clarity” was a revelation. His fresh dynamism started a revolution; the period from 1972 to 1975, when Fischer was already in self-exile as a player, was more fruitful in chess evolution than the entire preceding decade.
    Despite the ugliness of his decline, Fischer deserves to be remembered for his chess and for what he did for chess. A generation of American players learned the game thanks to Fischer and he should continue to inspire future generations as a model of excellence, dedication, and achievement. There is no moral at the end of the tragic fable, nothing contagious in need of quarantine. Bobby Fischer was one of a kind, his failings as banal as his chess was brilliant.
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