Bobby Fischer's Tournaments and Matches
By Bill Wall
In February, 1952, Bobby Fischer played in his first chess match at the Nigro home, winning his match against 10-year-old Raymond Sussman, the son of a Dr. Harold Sussman. Bobby won the first game and drew the second game. Dr. Harold Sussman later became Bobby's dentist.
In February 1953, Bobby played in his first organized tournament, the Brooklyn Chess Club championship. He played four games and took 5th place.
In December, 1954 Fischer took 3rd-5th place at the Brooklyn Chess Club championship. It was during this period that Fischer later said "When I was eleven, I just got good" when describing when his chess improved. (Brady 1965, p. 8)
In early 1955 Fischer was playing in a Chess Review correspondence tournament (section 55-P-32). He was mentioned as a new postalite in the May, 1955 issue of Chess Review in the Class B at 1200 section. He had an 1198 postal rating in the August, 1955 list of Chess Review and a 1082 postal rating in the March, 1956 issue of Chess Review, p. 91 (ratings as of Dec 31, 1955). He remained at 1082 in the August, 1956 issue if Chess Review. He lost his only known postal game in 12 moves to A. Wayne Conger (1274 postal). Donald Reithel (1256 postal) recalls that he played Fischer in a correspondence game in 1955. Fischer wrote to Reithel that he was a Brooklyn Dodger fan. Fischer did not finish the correspondence game with Reithel because he was starting to play in over-the-board tournaments. Fischer lost to Conger (1274 postal), lost to Reithel (1256 postal), defeated L. Maxwell (1150 postal), lost to S. Frankel (1068 postal), lost to J. Ellis (1052 postal), and lost to V. Mattern (1256 postal). Frankel won his section with 5 wins and 1 draw. Conger took 2nd with 5 wins and 1 loss.
On May 20-22, 1955, Fischer played in his first U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) tournament. He scored 2.5 points (out of 6) in the U.S.Amateur Championship in Lake Mohegan, New York (played at the Mohegan Country Club). Carmine Nigro took him to the event. Fischer, age 12, only wanted to watch, but was persuaded to play by Nigro. Nigro paid the $5 entry fee for Bobby and his USCF membership. The only known Fischer game from this event was with Albert B. Humphrey (1780) - Fischer in round 6. Fischer drew that game. Fischer won 2, drew 1, and lost 3 (2.5-3.5). He tied for 33rd place. The event was won by Clinton L. Parmalee of New Jersey and organized by Kenneth Harkness (1896-1972). There were 75 entrants. The event was open to anyone except rated masters (masters were anyone rated 2300 or over). The event was covered in the June 5, 1955 issue of Chess Life and in Chess Review, June, 1955, page 164. Fischer's first post-tournament provisional USCF rating was 1826. There were 75 entrants. The event was open to anyone except rated masters (masters were anyone rated 2300 or over).
In June 1955, Bobby scored 4.5-3.5 in a Washington Square Park (Greenwich Village) 8 round Swiss tournament with 32 players. He tied for 15th place. The tournament director was Jose Calderon. The entry fee was 10 cents. The entry fee money was sent to the American Red Cross as a donation.
In June 1955, He joined the Manhattan Chess Club on West 64th Street and became the youngest member in the club's history. A few weeks after joining the club, he won a C group tournament. He then won a B group tournament. He was later promoted to the A-Reserves group. In less than a year after joining the Manhattan Chess Club, he finished 1st in one of the A-Reserves group.
In early July, Nigro persuaded Fischer to play in the 10th U.S. Junior championship. On July 3, 1955, Regina Fischer sent a postcard to Alexander Liepnieks (1910-1973) and asked if he could make any arrangements for Bobby Fischer to play in the US Junior Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lipenicks was the Nebraska State Champion at the time and organizer for the US Junior Championship.
In July of 1955, Fischer (age 12) and Charles Kalme (1939-2002) took a train from Philadelphia to Lincoln, Nebraska to play in the 10th annual US Junior Championship, organized by Alexander Liepnieks. The event was held July 15-24, 1955. Fischer won 2 games, drew 6 games, and lost 2 games (5-5) at the U.S. Junior Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska (held at the local YMCA). Fischer (rated 1830 from the U.S. Amateur tournament) took 20th place out of 25. Kalme (rated 2186) won the event at age 15. Fischer stayed with the Liepnieks family. Fischer's USCF rating was 1625 after this event.
In round 1 of the US Junior Championship, Fischer lost to Kenneth Warner (1550) of Bakersfield, California. In round 2 he drew with William Whisler (unrated) of Concord, California. In round 3 he beat Jimmy Thomason (1600) of Fort Worth, Texas. In round 4 he drew with David Ames (unrated) of Quincy, Massachusetts. In round 5 he drew with Kenneth Stone (1600) of Los Angeles. In round 6 he drew with John Briska (unrated) of Albany, New York. In round 7 he lost to Viktors Pupols (2027) of Tacoma, Washington on time. In round 8, he drew with Robert Blair (1650) of Midwest City, Oklahoma. In round 9 he drew with John Winkelman (1650) of Lincoln, Nebraska. In round 10 he beat Franklin Saksena (1600) of Ft. Worth, Texas. His total score was 5-5.
Fischer won a trophy for best player 12 or under (he was the only 12 year old in it and the youngest player in the event). His name first appeared in Chess Life, Aug 5, 1955 in an article about the US Junior Championship. The event was also covered in Chess Review, September 1955, page 260, but only mentioning that Charles Kalme, age 15, won the tournament. Bobby returned to New York alone by bus, carrying his trophy with him.
On July 17, 1955, he took 3rd-5th place in the U.S. Junior Rapid Transit Championship preliminaries, behind Robert Cross and Ronald Gross. Every move was 10 seconds a move with a warning buzzer at 8 seconds and a bell at 10 seconds.
On October 2, 1955, Fischer, age 12, placed 15th among 66 players who entered the Washington Square Park tournament in Greenwich Village. Harry Fajans (1905-1986), rated 2096, said that when he beat Fischer in that tournament, Bobby walked away in tears (Brady, p. 10). Many who knew Fischer during this period confirm that Fischer often cried on being defeated. In 1963, when Frank Brady asked Fischer if this was true, Fischer replied, Of course not! Fischer played in the final open-air tournament of the season in Washington Square Park in New York City. He was the youngest player in the event, who held his own against many of his older and more experienced opponents (Chess Review, Nov 1955, p. 326). The winner was Charles Eastman, who won a $100 savings bond. Joe Livingston took 2nd and received a $50 bond and Charles Becker took 3rd and a $25 bond. Fischer had to weather the month-long contest and 32 eliminations before being beaten. (New York Times, Oct 3, 1955, p. 27). Bobby was awarded a $10 ballpoint pen for his efforts. As a result of his participation, Bobby's name appeared for the first time in a major newspaper. The New York Times ran a small story about the results of the tournament, with the headlines, EASTMAN WINS AT WASHINGTON SQUARE BOY 12, NEAR TOP. The reporter wrote, Many in the crowd of 400 onlookers seemed to think the best show was given by Bobby Fischer. Despite competition from his more mature and experienced adversaries, he was unbeaten until yesterday, when he came within 15 players of the championship. Fischer won 2 games, drew 5 games, and lost 1 game. His rating at the end of the year in 1955 was the average of his two rated tournaments in 1955, which were 1826 and 1625. His published USCF rating was 1726.
In January 1956, Bobby, age 12, won the class B prize of the first Greater New York City Open (January 20-26, 1956). It was held at the Churchill Chess and Bridge Club in Manhattan. Entry fee was $5. The event was won by Bill Lombardy, 6-1, on median tie-breaks over Dr. Ariel Mengarini. They split $50. 3rd-4th places went to Arthur Feuerstein and Edgar McCormick. Fischer won 5 games and lost 2 games (5-2). There were 52 players in this event. Fischer tied for 5th-7th (shared with Anthony Saidy and E.S. Jackson). In the final round, Fischer was playing Rhys Hays (2059). In a particularly difficult position, Bobby thought for a long time, and then decided on a move. Bobby moved a piece then punched the clock on the next table! His USCF rating for the event was 2157. (Chess Review, Feb 1956, p. 36 and Chess Life, Feb 5, 1956, p. 1-2)
In April 1956, Fischer won the class A championship at the Manhattan Chess Club. He won 7, drew 1, and lost 2. Max Pavey won the Manhattan CC championship.
Fischer also was the top scorer in the 1956 New York Metropolitan League A team with 4 wins and 1 draw. An award was to be given to him at Highland Park in Brooklyn for his efforts, but he never showed up. Carmine Nigro accepted the award for him. Nigro told Brady that Fischer was master strength.
At the end of April of 1956, Fischer's USCF rating was 2168. However, his published rating in the 10th national chess rating list (for tournaments ending before Dec 31, 1955) in the May 20, 1956 issue of Chess Life was 1726. One year later, it would be 2231.
On May 25-27, 1956, Fischer played in the 6th U.S. Amateur Championship at the Monterey Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey, winning 3 games, drawing 2, and losing 1 game (4-2). At 13, he was the youngest player in the 88-player event (won by USAF Lt. John Hudson on tiebreaks over Harry Lyman and J.N. Cotter). Fischer tied for 11th-23rd place (21st on tiebreak points). Before the event, he was rated 1726. His USCF rating after this event was 2003. (source: Chess Life, June 20, 1956, p. 1, and crosstable on p. 8)
In round 1 of the 1956 US Amateur Championship, Fischer drew with Michael Tilles (2040). In round 2 he beat Dr. J. F. Bacardi (1770). In round 3 he drew with Norman Hurttlen (1985). In round 4 he beat Samuel Sklaroff (1911). In round 5 he lost to Edmund Nash (1989). In round 6 he beat R. Riggler (1844).
From July 1-7, 1956, Fischer, age 13, took first place at the 11th Annual U.S. Junior Championship (open to American and Canadian players under age 21) held in Philadelphia with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss (8.5-1.5). He became the youngest-ever junior chess champion at age 13, a record that still stands. The event was held at the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club with Bill Ruth as tournament director, assisted by D. A. Gianguilio. There was no entry fee, but you had to be a member of the USCF ($5 annual membership dues). Fischer's USCF rating after this event was 2321, making him a master at age 13 years, 3 months, 29 days and ranked #33 in the nation. He had become the youngest master in history. The rating was not published until August of 1956. There were 28 participants from 12 states and Canada. (source: Chess Life, Jul 20, 1956, p. 1)
Fischer's opponents were Arthur Feuerstein (2150), Carl Grossguth (2022), William Whisler (1882), Sydney Geller (2150), George Baylor (2014), Charles Henin (2265), Charles Weldon (1927), Steven Friedman, Kenneth Blake (1877), and David Kerman (1927). Fischer drew with Feuerstein, lost to Henin, and won the rest. Fischer won his last game versus David Kerman on an adjudication which took more than two hours of analysis by a panel of three referees. (Chess Review, August, 1956, page 227). Feurestein and Henin took 2nd-3rd. Geller took 4th. Baylor and Levine took 5th-6th. The crosstable of the event appeared in the July 20 issue of Chess Life, page 3.
At 13 years and 4 months, Fischer was the youngest player to win the U.S. Junior Championship. He won a portable typewriter for his efforts.
On July 4, 1956, Fischer took 2nd place in the national junior speed championship with a 4-1 score (won by Arthur Feuerstein with 4.5-0.5 score). William Lombardy took 3rd, followed by Francois Jobin of Quebec and A. Rudy of New York who took 4th-5th, and Sanford Greene, who took 6th place. They were the 6 finalists in a field of 18 that played in the speed championship. (source: New York Times, July 5, 1956, p. 33)
On July 16-28, 1956, Fischer played in the 57th annual U.S. Open in Oklahoma City (111 players from 20 states) at the Biltmore Hotel. The event was directed by George Koltanowski, assisted by Kenneth Harkness, and organized by Jerry Spann. Play began at 7 pm. There was no play on Saturday, July 21, which was reserved for the Speed Tournament. The final round began at 12 noon. Time control was 50 moves in 2.5 hours. Entry fee was $15.
Fischer went undefeated in the 12 rounds. He won 5 games, drawing 7 games, losing none, (8.5-3.5), and tied for 4th-8th place (won by Arthur Bisguier on tiebreaks over Jimmy Sherwin). Fischer set some kind of record by going undefeated through all 12 rounds of a USCF Open at the age of 13 (Chess Review, September, 1956, page 260). His USCF rating was 2375 after this event, #25 in the nation. His game with Dr. Peter Lapiken was the first to appear in a chess magazine. It appeared in the August 5, 1956 issue of Chess Life and the September issue of Chess Review, p. 282. Fischer won in 19 moves. During this event, he was interviewed on television for the first time. He appeared twice on local television and was profiled by the Oklahoman magazine. A picture of Fischer posing for the cameraman of the Oklahoman appeared in the August 20, 1956 issue of Chess Life, page 7. At 13, he was the youngest player at the U.S. Open.
In the US Open, he defeated A. M. Swank (1687) in the first round (the oldest player at 78 vs. the youngest player at 13), drew with Henry Gross (2181), drew with C. Fred Tears (2123) of Dallas, beat Dr. Peter Lapiken (2209) of Los Angeles, drew Brian Owens (2222) of Long Island, drew Anthony Santasiere (2333), drew Ken Smith (2216), drew Wilmer E. Stevens (1872), beat Dale Ruth (1971) of Oklahoma, beat Dr. Orest Popovych (2176) of New Jersey, drew Dr. Stephen Popel (2328), and beat Jeremiah Donovan (2180) of Brooklyn.
Fischer's USCF rating in August 1956 was 2349. He was 13 years, 5 months old, the youngest US master ever. The record stood until July, 1977, when Joel Benjamin became a master at 13 years, 3 months.
From August 25 to September 2, 1956, Fischer played and tied for 8th-12th place at the first Canadian Open in Montreal (88 players 66 from Canada, 20 from the USA, and 2 from Guatemala). It was played at Redpath Hall of McGill University (entry fee was $10). The event was won by Larry Evans (winning the John G. Prentice Trophy) on tiebreak over Bill Lombardy, each with an 8-2 score. Each won $400. Bobby's score was 7-3. Fischer stayed at the home of William Hornung, one of the tournament's organizers. Between rounds, Fischer played 10 blitz games with Jimmy Sherwin, who tied for 1st at the U.S. Open, and Fischer won every game. (source: Chess Review, Oct 1956, p. 292 and Chess Life, Sep 20, 1956, p.1)
In the 7th round, Fischer played Hans Matthai, and the game ended in a draw in 108 moves. It turned out to be the longest game in Fischer's career (Fischer had a Queen against two Rooks and a Pawn). Frank Ross Anderson, Canadian champion, called it the most interesting game of the tournament.
Fischer defeated Gerard Lepine of Montreal, lost to Robert Sobel (2178) of Philadelphia, defeated J. Boyer, lost to Maurice Fox (former Canadian champion) of Montreal, defeated V. Judzentavicious, defeated W.A. Walz, drew with Hans Matthai, defeated Charles Sharp (1992), defeated Sidney Bernstein (2322), and drew with Frank Anderson.
From October 7-24, 1956, Fischer was invited to play in the third Lessing J. Rosenwald Trophy Tournament, limited to the 12 best players in the country. Fischer was invited as a result of him winning the U.S. Junior Championship three months earlier. Fischer took 8th-9th place (with Abe Turner) in the 3rd Lessing J. Rosenwald Trophy Tournament in New York. His score was 4.5-6.5 (2 wins, 5 draws, 4 loses). The event was won by Samuel Reshevsky with a 9-2 score. Fischer's win involving a queen sacrifice against International Master Donald Byrne in round 8 won the first brilliancy prize (and $50) and has been called 'The Game of the Century' (named by Hans Kmoch, Manhattan Chess Club Director). The tournament was held at both the Manhattan Chess Club on Central Park South and the Marshall Chess Club, located on Tenth Street. His USCF rating after the event was 2321. (source: Chess Life, Nov 5, 1956, p. 1)
The December 1956 cover of Chess Review had a picture of Bobby Fischer and the words Game of the Century. The game between Fischer and Donald Byrne was annotated by Hans Kmoch (source: Chess Review, Dec 1956, p. 374). The New York Times wrote, Fischer adopted the Gruenfeld defense and made one startling move after another. Byrne resigned at midnight after 40 moves. (source: The New York Times, Oct 18, 1956, p. 44) Al Horowitz, editor of Chess Review, said of the game, Nobody in the world could have played better than Fischer on this occasion. Fischer annotated his game with Donald Byrne in the Dec 20, 1956 issue of Chess Life, page 6.
Fischer lost to Arthur Bisguier (2460), lost to Abe Turner (2306), drew with Sidney Bernstein (2322), drew with Arthur Feuerstein (2277), defeated Herbert Seidman (2393), lost to Samuel Reshevsky (2648) on time, drew with Edmar Mednis (2405), defeated Donald Byrne (2468), drew with Max Pavey (2412), drew with George Shainswit (2255), and lost to Eliot Hearst (2298).
Dr. Harold Sussman observed this of Fischer during the tournament: Bobby Fischer was intriguing to watch, especially when he was in trouble. He would squirm, bite his nails, look uncomfortable, fidget, and still would answer with a decisive air about him.
On November 23-25 (Thanksgiving Day weekend), 1956, Fischer tied for 2nd-5th place (4 wins, 3 draws) in the 4th Eastern States Open in Washington, D.C. The winner was Hans Berliner with the score of 6-1, who appeared on the cover of the January 1957 issue of Chess Review. There were 56 players in the event. Norman Whitaker directed the tournament. Fischer's rating after the event was 2298. He defeated Attilio di Camillo (2367), Edmund Nash (2102), Erich Marchland (2135), drew with Norman Hurtlen (2020), drew with Arthur Feuerstein (2277), defeated Herbert Goldhamer, and drew his final round (unknown player). (source: Chess Review, Jan 1957, p. 3 and Chess Life, Jan 5, 1957, p. 2)
In December 1956, Bobby won the rapid transit play at the Manhattan Chess Club, scoring 10-0. Three of his opponents were Arthur Bisguier (2460), William Lombardy (2464), and Carl Pilnick (2325). (source: Chess Life, Jan 5, 1957, p. 3)
In January-February 1957, Fischer took 4th place (2 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses) in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship semi-finals (Fischer was seeded in the semi-finals and did not have to play in the preliminaries), but did not qualify for the finals. He drew with Ken Vines (1888), defeated Joseph Tamargo (1967), lost to lost to Abe Turner (2306), defeated Samuel Baron (1936), and lost to Max Pavey (2412) in the final round.
Fischer tied for 1st place with Aben Rudy in the 1956-7 Manhattan Championship Consolation Tourney. (Chess Life, April 5, 1957, p. 3). At the end of 1956, Fischer's published rating was 2231.
On Feb 22-24, 1957, Fischer took 6th-14th place (4 wins, 2 losses) in the Log Cabin Independent Open in West Orange, New Jersey. His USCF rating after the event was 2222. He lost to Herbert Avram (2072), defeated Faust, Hoeflin, and Sovel, lost to Anthony Santasiere (2333), and defeated Julious Goldsmith (1838). The winner of the event on tiebreaks was Saul Wanetick, with the score of 5-1. There were 61 players in the event (source: New York Times, Feb 25, 1957, p. 32 Chess Review, Apr 1957, p. 99, Chess Life, Apr 5, 1957, p. 1)
On March 9-10, 1957, Bobby played two games against former world champion Max Euwe (1901-1981) at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York, losing the first game and drawing the second game. Euwe was paid $65 for his winning effort and Fischer was paid $35.
In the May 5, 1957, issue of Chess Life, page 3, Fischer, age 13, was rated 2231 on the 11th USCF national rating list (for tournaments up to Dec 31, 1956). He had gained over 500 rating points in one year. This made him at that time America's youngest master ever. Reshevsky was the highest rated player at 2648.
On July 4-7, 1957, Fischer tied for 6th-7th place (5 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss) at the New Western Open, held at the Hotel Astor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His USCF rating at the end of the tournament was 2103. He defeated Richard Fauber (1885), defeated Arpad Elo (2025), lost to Milton Otteson (2100), defeated W. H. Donnelly, defeated Mark Surgies (2026), drew with Nikoljas Kampars (2115), drew with Povilas Tautvaisas, and defeated Erich Marchland (2135). Donald Byrne won the event on tiebreaks over Larry Evans. There were 123 players. (source: Chess Life, Jul 20, 1957, p. 1)
A few days later, on July 8-14, 1957, Fischer played in the U.S. Junior Championship in San Francisco and took first place (8 wins, 1 draw) and another typewriter and trophy. The event was held at the Spreckels Russell Dairy Company and had 33 players. He also won the U.S. Junior Speed Championship, 5-0. His prize for that was a copy of the 1956 Candidates Tournament book by Euwe and Muhring. His USCF rating at the end of the US Junior Championship was 2298. (source: Chess Review, Sep 1957, p. 260 and Chess Life, Aug 5, 1957, p. 1; crosstable, p. 8) In the US Junior championship, Fischer drew with California State Champion Gilbert Ramirez (2222) in the 5th round and defeated James Bennett (1725), Andrew Schoene (1842), Ronald Thacker (1888), William Haines (1950), Stephen Sholomson (2233), Mike Bredhoff (2000), Robert Walker (1780), and Leonard Hill (2038). Fischer also won the Milwaukee Journal, Independent-Press Telegraph Trophy for raning player under 15 and the Hermann Dittman Trophy. The event was directed by Bobby Fischer.
On August 4-16, 1957, Fischer, age 14, tied for 1st-2nd place (scoring 10-2 with 8 wins and 4 draws) with Arthur Bisguier at the 58th U.S. Open, held at the Hotel Manger in Cleveland and won $750. He won the event on tie-break, making him the youngest U.S. Open Champion ever at the age of 14. He is also the only player to hold both the U.S. Junior and the U.S. Open titles in the same year. His rating after the event was 2264. There were 175 players in the event. Bisguier said, "Who could have seen in the early stages, by not winning against Fischer, I created a Frankenstein!" (Brady, p. 19) At the conclusion of the U.S. Open, it was assumed that Bisguier won the tournament, as he had better Solkoff and Sonnenborn points used in tiebreaking. He took the trophy and prize money home. When he got home, the tournament director called Bisguier to say he was not the winner. After recalculating the tie-break points using the Median tie-breaking system, it was determined that Fischer was the winner on tie-breaks (62 points vs. 61.5 for Bisguier). Bisguier later gave the trophy to Fischer. (Chess Review, September 1957, p. 260, and October 1957, pg. 297-298). (source: New York Times, Aug 17, 1957, p. 12, Chess Life, Aug 20, 1957, p. 1 and Chess Life, Sep 5, 1957, p. 1; crosstable Chess Life, Sep 20, 1957, p. 8)
At the US Open, Fischer won against H. Kemper who forefeited (scheduled, but did not appear) , Edward D. Stephans (1875), drew Rudolf Pitschak (2135), defeated John Rinaldo (1927), defeated Arthur Bisguier (2472), drew Charles Witte (2120), defeated Igor Garais (2014), Edmar Mednis (2405), Donald Byrne (2468), drew with Robert Byrne (2590), defeated William Addison (2274), and drew Walter Shipman (2377).
The August 20, 1957 issue of Chess Life published the first supplementary rating list for tournaments up to March 31, 1957. Fischer was rated 2298 on this list.
In August-September 1957, Fischer won the New Jersey Open championship with 6 wins and 1 draw, no losses. The event, with 80 players, was played at the Independent Chess Club in East Orange, NJ. His USCF rating after the event was 2605. He drew with Ariel Mengarini (2217) in the 3rd round and defeated Mitchell Saltzberg (2156), Matthew Green (2138), Attilo DiCamillo (2367), Robert Sobel (2178), Anthony Saidy (2367), and Jimmy Sherwin (2447). (source: New York Times, Sep 3, 1957, p. 33, Chess Review, Oct 1957, p. 292 and Chess Life, Sep 20, 1957, p. 1)
In September, 1957, the Pepsi-Cola Company sponsored a match with 19 year-old Philippines Junior Champion, Lt. Rodolfo Tan Cardoso (1937- ) and Fischer. Fischer won 6-2 and $325. Cardoso was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1957, making him the first Asian IM. The match was played at the Manhattan Chess Club. (source: Chess Review, Nov 1957, p. 323, Chess Life, Nov 5, 1957, p. 1)
In November 1957, Fischer took 6th place (4 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss) in the 4th annual North Central Open in Milwaukee. His USCF rating after the event was 2552. He defeated Curtis Gardner (1892), Angelo Sandrin (2066), Ed Buerger (2082), Tibor Weinberger (2276), lost to Charles Kalme (2208), drew Martin Harrow (2198), and drew Lajos Szedlaczek. The event, with 93 players, was won on tiebreaks by Stephan Popel over Charles Kalme. (source: Chess Review, Feb 1958, p. 36 and Chess Life, Jan 5, 1958, p. 2)
Fischer then played a match with Dr. Daniel J. Beninson (1931-2003), a strong Argentine player. He was a scientist with the Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation for the United Nations. The match was played at the Marshall Chess Club, and Fischer won (2 wins, 3 draws). Beninson later became head of Argentina's Atomic Energy Commission. (source: Chess Life, Dec 20, 1957, p. 3)
On January 7, 1958 Bobby Fischer at age 14 years and 9 months won the 10th U.S. Championship (the 4th Lessing J. Rosenwald Trophy and the Frank J. Marshall Memorial Trophy) and Zonal with 8 wins, 5 draws and no losses (he was the only player undefeated in the tournament). He drew his last round with Abe Turner. His score of 10.5/13 was a point more than 4-time champion Sammy Reshevsky, who lost in the final round to William Lombardy (Lombardy won the first prize for brilliancy for defeating Reshevsky). The event was played at the Manhattan Chess Club and Marshall Chess Club. At 14, he became the youngest US champion in history, a record that still stands. His USCF rating after the event was 2722. His USCF rating average for 1957 was 2626 (Chess Life, Mar 5, 1958, p. 5), and #2 in the USCF (behind Samuel Reshevsky at 2713). Players over 2600 were considered American Grandmasters, so Reshevsky and Fischer were the only grandmasters with the USCF. He now qualified for the 1958 Interzonal in Portoroz. Since this was a Zonal event, he qualified for the Interzonal and was given the International Master (IM) title by FIDE at the age of 14 years, 10 months. Except for Santa Monica 1966, Bobby Fischer would win every U.S. tournament he played in. (source: New York Times, Jan 8, 1958, p. 93, Chess Review, Feb 1958, p. 40, and Chess Life, Jan 20, 1958, p. 1)
In the US championship, Fischer defeated Arthur Feuerstein (2405), drew Herbert Seidman (2386), drew Samuel Reshevsky (2713), defeated Sidney Bernstein (2359), defeated Arthur Bisguier (2436), drew Hans Berliner (2406), defeated Jimmy Sherwin (2474), George Kamer (2266), Edmar Mednis (2444), William Lombardy (2499), Attilo DiCamillo (2319), drew Arnold Denker (2408), and drew Abe Turner (2376).
In March 1958, Fischer was seeded #1 and was supposed to play in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship. But he withdrew the day before the tournament. (Chess Life, Mar 20, 1958, p. 1)
On July 20-26, 1958, Fischer played a match with and Milan Matulovic at the Slavia chess club in Belgrade. Bobby lost the first game, then won the second game, drew the third game, and won the fourth game. He then played a match with Dragoljub Janosevic. Fischer drew both games. In 1967, Janosevic beat Fischer at the Skopje Interzonal, becoming one of the few players to have a plus record against Fischer.
From August 5 through September 12, 1958, Fischer, age 15, took 5th-6th place at the 4th Interzonal (won by Tal, both playing in their first international tournament) in Portoroz, Yugoslavia, qualified for the Candidates, and earned the International Grandmaster title after winning 6 games, drawing 12, and losing 2 games. He was only 1.5 points behind the winner, Tal. At the same time he became the world's youngest World Championship Candidate and Grandmaster for the world championship at age 15 years, 6 months. Pal Benko was in the Interzonal as a result of his 1957 victory at the Dublin Zonal. Sherwin was in the Interzonal after taking 3rd place in the U.S. championship. Reshevsky had qualified for taking 2nd place, but he refused to play in the Interzonal. Cardoso of the Philippines was in the Interzonal. He wanted revenge after he lost to Fischer during the Pepsi-Cola sponsored match. Cardoso told everyone that he was going to beat Fischer. When they sat down at the board, Cardoso said, "Would you like to resign now and save time?" Fischer laughed and beat him. (Brady, p. 24) (source: Chess Review, Oct 1958, p. 291, New York Times, Sep 11, 1958, p. 46, Chess Life, Sep 20, 1958, p. 1)
In one game, Fischer took an early draw with Yuri Averbakh. When Larry Evans asked why Bobby agreed to a premature draw, Fischer said, "I was afraid of losing to a Russian grandmaster and he was afraid of losing to a kid." (Evans On Chess, July 22, 1994)
Fischer drew with Oleg Neikirch, defeated Geza Fuster, drew Hector Rossetto, lost to Pal Benko, drew David Bronstein, drew Yuri Averbakh, defeated Bent Larsen, defeated Raul Sanguinetti, drew Oscar Panno, lost to Fririk Olafsson, drew Mikhail Tal, drew Tigran Petrosian, defeated Jimmy Shewin, defeated Boris de Grieff, drew Laszo Szabo, drew Ludek Pachman, drew Aleksander Matonovic, drew Miroslaf Filip, defeated Rodolfo Cardoso, and drew Svetozar Gligoric.
On September 11, 1958, at age 15 years and 6 months, he became the youngest Grandmaster in the world. The record stood until 1991 when it was broken by Judit Polgar.
The six qualifiers from the Interzonal that would go on to play in the World Championship Challengers Tournament were Mikhail Tal, Svetozar Gligoric, Pal Benko, Tigran Petrosian, Bobby Fischer, and Fridrik Olafsson. Already qualified or seeded for the Challengers Tournamenet were Vassily Smyslov and Paul Keres.
In September 1958, Fischer played in the Marshall Chess Club weekly speed tournament, the Tuesday Night Rapid Transit. Bobby tied for 1st with Edmar Mednis, scoring 13-2. The one game that Fisher lost was to Jack Collins. (source: New York Times, Sep 28, 1958, p. 273)
As of September 30, 1958, Fischers USCF rating was 2636. (Chess Life, Feb 5, 1959, p. 1)
In December 1958 - January 1959, Bobby Fischer again won the U.S. Championship (5th Rosenwald Tournament) with 6 wins and 5 draws (the only player undefeated). His USCF rating was 2665. First place was $1,000. He drew William Lombardy (2499), defeated Charles Kalme (2300), drew James Sherwin (2474), defeated Raymon Weinstein (2313), drew Pal Benko (2496), defeated Samuel Reshevsky (2713), drew Donald Byrne (2454), drew Larry Evans (2591), defeated Edmar Mednis (2444), defeated Arthur Bisguier (2436), and drew Robert Byrne (2538). (source: Chess Review, Feb 1959. p. 41, Chess Life, Jan 5, 1959, and New York Times, Jan 5, 1959, p. 38)
In March-April 1959, Fischer, age 16, took 3rd-4th place (8 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses) at the annual international tournament in Mar del Plata, Argentina. It was Bobby's first trip to South America. He drew Jaime Emma, Augusto Sanchez, lost to Ludek Pachman, beat Joao Mendes, lost to Rene Letelier, beat Rodolfo Redolfi, beat Ruben Schocron, drew Miguel Najdorf, beat Raul Sanguinetti, Herman Pilnik, Hector Rossetto, Bernardo Wexler, and drew Jacobo Bolbochan. Pachman and Najdorf tied for 1st place. (source: Chess Review, May 1959, p. 131, Chess Life, May 20, 1959, p. 1, and New York Times, April 10, 1959, p. 41)
From there, Fischer went to Santiago, Chile where he placed 4th-7th (9 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses) in the Arturo Alessandri Palma international chess tournament. Fischer withdrew from the tournament for a short while, stating that he had gone there with the understanding that there was $2,000 in cash prizes. It turned out that there was $1,000 in cash prizes and $1,000 in trophies. He was eventually persuaded to re-enter. He defeated Luis Sanchez, defeated Joao Mendes, lost to Boris Ivkov, lost to Raul Sanguinetti, defeated Moises Stekel, lost to Ludek Pachman, defeated Rene Letelier, defeated Julio Salas Romo, drew Rodrigo Flores, defeated Carlos Juaregui, won on a bye, defeated Herman Pilnik, and defeated Walter Ader. The event was won by Pachman and Ivkov. (source: Chess Review, Jun 1959, p. 163, Chess Life, Jun 20, 1959, p. 1, and New York Times, May 8, 1959, p. 36)
In May-June, 1959, Fischer took 3rd-4th at the Jubilee tournament in Zurich, Switzerland behind Mikhail Tal and Svetozar Gligoric, with 8 wins, 5 draws, and 2 losses. Fischer finished a single point behind Tal, and a half-point behind Gligoric. Max Euwe, in an interview in Swiss Schachzeitung, said of Fischer, "His chess technique is nearly a miracle. In their youth, only a few players could handle the endgame so precisely. Only two such players are known to me, Smyslov and Capablanca." (Brady, p. 29) Fischer drew Edgar Walther, defeated Edwin Bhend, defeated Fridrik Olafsson, defeated Joseph Kupper, drew Max Blau, drew Bent Larsen, defeated Andreas Duckstein, defeated Wolfgang Unzicker, drew Gedeon Barcza, defeated Erwin Nievergelt, lost to Svetozar Gligoric, defeated Paul Keres, defeated Jan Donner, lost to Dieter Keller, and drew Mikhail Tal. (source: New York Times, Jun 9, 1959, p. 49, Chess Life, Jul 5, 1959, p. 1)
In September-October, 1959, Fischer took 5th-6th at the Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade Candidates tournament, won by Mikhail Tal, age 22. Tal received $1,000 for 1st place. Fischer received $200 for two months work and 28 rounds. Tal beat Fischer in all 4 games that they played. 2nd-4th were Paul Keres, Tigran Petrosian, and Vasily Smyslov. Fischer tied with Gligoric. Fridrik Olafsson took 7th and Pal Benko took 8th. Fischer won 8 games, drew 9 games, and lost 11 games. The players were Tal, Keres, Petrosian, Smyslov, Fischer, Gligoric, Olafsson, and Benko. (source: New York Times, Oct 31, 1959, p. 20, 22, Chess Life, Nov 20, 1959, p. 1) Fischers second at the Yugoslavia Candidates tournament was Bent Larsen. Larsen received $700 as Fischers second (equivalent to $5,000 today). Fischer lost 10 pounds during the tournament.
In November 1959, Fischer took 3rd place in the first US Rapid Transit Championship, held in New Jersey. He won 7 games and lost 3.
In December 1959 - January 1960, Fischer again won the 12th U.S. Championship with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. For the third year in a row, he won the US championship without a loss. His rating was 2636. The event was held at the Empire Hotel. Fischer won $1,000 for first place. He defeated Arthu Bisguier (2506), drew Robert Byrne (2409), drew Raymond Weinstein (2313), defeated Arnold Denker (2408), defeated Robin Ault (2041), drew James Sherwin (2511), defeated Herbert Seidman (2386), defeated Sidney Bernstein (2393), defeated Edmar Mednis (2397), defeated Pal Benko (2504), and drew Samuel Reshevsky (293). (source: New York Times, Jan 4, 1960, p. 41)
In March-April, 1960 Fischer, 17 years old, tied for 1st-2nd with Boris Spassky at Mar del Plata, Argentina. He lost to Boris Spassky in round 2, drew with David Bronstein in round 12, and won all his other games (13 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss). It was Fischer's greatest triumph in an international tournament to date. He beat Bernardo Wexler, Olicio Gadia, Julio Saadi, Erich Elikases. Alberto Foguelman, Fridrik Olafsson, Osvaldo Bazan, Carlos Bielicki, Rodolfo Redolfi, Carlos Incutto, Jose Luis Alveres, Rene Letelier, and Luis Mariani. (source: New York Times, Apr 18, 1960, p. 41)
In June-August, 1960, he did poorly in Buenos Aires. He scored 8.5-10.5. He only won 3 games in 19 rounds. It was the worst result of his career. When asked to explain his results, he said the lighting was poor. Miguel Najdorf probably introduced Fischer to too much of the Buenos Aires night life.
Fischer took first place at Reykjavik, Iceland in October, 1960.
In October-November, 1960, he played board 1 for the United States at the Chess Olympiad in Leipzig, East Germany, winning 10 games, drawing 6, and losing 2. The USA took 2nd, behind the Soviet Union. He won the silver medal for individual result. The USA won a silver medal for team result. His rating was 2641. Fischer drew his game with current world champion Mikhail Tal.
In December-January 1961, Bobby again won the U.S. Championship for the 4th time with 7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses. His prize was $1,000 and he qualified for the next Interzonal. His rating was 2660.
In July 1961, he started a match with Samuel Reshevsky and tied it with 2 wins, 7 draws, and 2 losses before negotiations broke down to continue the match over the playing schedule and time of the start of each game. The games were played in New York and Los Angeles for a prize fund of $8,000. Bobby forfeited the match because the 12th game of the series was set at 11 a.m., and Bobby was not told of this time change. The game had been scheduled for play at the Herman Steiner Chess Club in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13 at 1:30 pm. At 10 am that morning, he received a call that the playing time had been moved up to 11 am to accommodate the wishes of the principal patron, Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky. She wanted the game to be over in time for her to attend a concert to be given that night by her husband, Gregor Piatigorsky. Bobby refused to play at 11 a.m. and cited a clause in his playing contract which stated that playing time had to be acceptable to both parties. The New York Times wrote that the playing time of 11 am was at Reshevskys request because Reshevsky did not want to play on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Fischer responded, saying he was unable to arise so early in the morning. (source: New York Times, Aug 14, 1961, p. 20)
In October, 1961, Fischer took 2nd at the Alekhine Memorial in Bled, Yugoslavia, behind Tal. He defeated Tal in the 2nd round. Fischer's rating was 2675.
In early March, 1962, he won the Interzonal in Stockholm with 13 wins, 9 draws, and no losses. This was the first interzonal that a Soviet player did not take first place. Fischer earned $750 for his 1st place finish at the Interzonal. Fischer's rating was 2713.
In May 1962, he took 4th place at the Curacao, Dutch West Indies, Candidates tournament, won by Tigran Petrosian. Fischer later accused the Russians of cheating in this event and that interview was published in the August 20, 1962 edition of Sports Illustrated under the title "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess." Viktor Korhnoi confirmed Bobby's accusations in his book, Chess is My Life.
In October 1962, he played Board 1 for the United States at the 15th Chess Olympiad in Varna, Bulgaria and scored 8 wins, 6 draws (one draw against Botvinnik), and 3 losses. The USA took 4th place, behind the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Argentina. His USCF rating was 2659 after the event.
In January 1963, Bobby won the U.S. Championship with 6 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss (to Edmar Mednis). His rating was 2664.
In July, 1963 he won the Western Open in Bay City, Michigan, winning $750. His USCF rating was 2674.
In September 1963, Fischer won the New York State Open, held in Poughkeepsie, with a perfect score of 7 wins, no draws, and no losses. His USCF rating was 2685. This was the last Swiss system event that Bobby would play in.
On January 2, 1964, Bobby Fischer won the 1963-64 U.S. Championship with a perfect score of 11 wins. First prize was $2,000. Frank Brady was the arbiter for the event. The event was held at the Henry Hudson Hotel.
In August 1965, Bobby participated in the 4th Capablanca Memorial in Cuba by playing through a teletype machine at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. He tied for 2nd-4th with 12 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. The United States did not have diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the State Department would not authorize him to travel to Havana. Fischer thus had to play by teletype and the Cuban government paid for the services, over $10,000. Fischer's USCF rating was 2706. Fischer was given a $3,000 appearance fee to play in the event.
In December 1965, he won the U.S. Chess Championship with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses. His 1st place prize was $2,000. Fischer's USCF rating after the event was 2708. He also qualified for the 1967 Interzonal in Sousse, Tunisia.
In July 1966, Bobby took 2nd place at the Piatigorsky Cup, played at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, behind Spassky. Over 1,000 people watched his game with Boris Spassky, the largest audience for a chess game in U.S. history. His USCF rating was 2713.
In November 1966, he played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana, scoring 14 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss (to Florin Gheorghiu). He took the silver medal, just behind World Champion Tigran Petrosian. He gave Fidel Castro an autographed copy of his book, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. His USCF rating was 2748.
In December 1966, he won the 1966-67 U.S. Championship with 8 wins, 3 draws, and no losses. This was his 8th U.S. Championship title (winning in 1957/58, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1965/66 and 1966/67). Fischer did not play in the 1961-62 championship and there was no 1964/65 championship. In 8 US championships, he only lost 3 games (to Edmar Mednis, Samuel Reshevsky, and Robert Byrne). His USCF rating was 2758.
In April 1967, Fischer took 1st place at Monaco. His USCF rating was 2762. He received an appearance fee of $2,000 and a 5,000 franc first prize. The trophy was presented to him by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. Fischer refused to pose for a photograph with the prince or princess.
In August 1967, he won at Skopje, Yugoslavia. His USCF rating was 2741.
In October 1967, Fischer participated in the Sousse Interzonal, but withdrew after leading the event with 7 wins and 3 draws. He forfeited his game with the Soviet international master Gipslis because of too many games he had to play in succession as a result of the tournament organizers re-scheduling his games around his religious holidays and Sabbath. Since the organizers would not let him replay the forfeited game, Fischer withdrew. His USCF rating was 2754 after this event.
In July, 1968, he took 1st place at Nathanya, Israel. His USCF rating was 2739.
In September, 1968, he took 1st place at Vinkovci, Yugoslavia. His USCF rating was 2745.
In April 1970, he played Board 2 in the USSR vs. REST OF THE WORLD match in Belgrade, beating Petrosian with 2 wins and 2 draws. Fischer asked for and received a $2,500 appearance fee. All the other players were given a $500 honorarium. The prize for the winner of board 1 was an Italian-built Fiat. The prize for the winner of board 2 was a Russian-built Moskvich. The Soviets won 20.5 to 19.5. His USCF rating was 2755. Fischer wanted to win the car to sell it, not keep the car. He sold it immediately. He said, Last year in the United States, we had 56,000 deaths as a result of car accidents, and I decided I'd rather use buses. (Endgame, p. 165)
He then went on to Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia and won the unofficial world 5-minute championship with 17 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss (to Korchnoi). He score 4.5 points more than 2nd place finisher Mikhail Tal. Fischer spent no more than 2 minutes on any game. After the tournament he called off from memory all of the moves from his 22 games, involving over 1,000 moves.
In May, 1970, he took 1st at Rovinj/Zagreb. His USCF rating was 2748.
In August 1970, he took 1st place at Buenos Aires. His USCF rating was 2762.
In September 1970, Fischer played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 19th Olympiad in Siegen, West Germany. He scored 10 out of 13 and took the Silver Medal for Board 1. The US team placed fourth. His USCF rating was 2755. This was Fischer's last chess Olympiad. He won 40, drew 18, and lost 7 for 49/65 or 75.4%.
In November, Pal Benko gave up his spot at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal for $2,000 so that Fischer could play. Bobby won the event with 15 wins, 7 draws, and 1 loss. His USCF rating was 2771. His December 1970 FIDE rating was 2740.