Bobby Fischer

(1943—2008) American chess player

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Anatoly Karpov (b. 1951) Russian chess player


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US chess player, who was the youngest grandmaster in chess history and thefirst American to win the world championship.

Fischer was born in Chicago but soon after moved with his mother and sister to Brooklyn, New York. He was six when his sister taught him to play chess and in due course joined the famous Brooklyn and Manhattan Chess Club. He won his first title, the US Open, in 1957 and the following year came equal fifth in the Portorož interzonal tournament. At fifteen he became a grandmaster. Leaving school a year later to become a professional chess player, by 1964 he was seen as a world championship contender. Over the next five years Fischer twice opted out of competition chess for long periods.

On his second comeback he won the Palma interzonal in 1970 and the following year won the right to challenge Spassky for the world title. Fischer objected to the venue, Reykjavik, and the financial terms, repeatedly threatening to withdraw. Eventually he played, however, and after a very long match he won. While world champion Fischer played no competition chess at all. He was due to defend his world title against Karpov's challenge in 1975 but once again he objected to the conditions, refused to play, and so forfeited the title. Fischer did not break his self-imposed seclusion of twenty years until 1992, when he contemptuously defied US sanctions against Yugoslavia (then in the throes of civil war) to play his old adversary Spassky in Belgrade. Although he achieved a convincing victory, there were demands that he should forfeit the prize money and be prosecuted.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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