Fischer quotes

Chess is life.

All I want to do, ever, is just play chess.

I don't believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.

All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.

You can only get good at chess if you love the game.

Chess demands total concentration and a love for the game.

I give 98 percent of my mental energy to chess. Others give only 2 percent.

Your body has to be in top condition. Your chess deteriorates as your body does. You can't separate body from mind.

I prepare myself well. I know what I can do before I go in. I'm always confident.

Psychologically, you have to have confidence in yourself and this confidence should be based on fact.

People have been playing against me below their strength for fifteen years.

It’s just you and your opponent at the board and you're trying to prove something.

Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent's mind.

Chess is like war on a board.

I play honestly and I play to win. If I lose, I take my medicine.

You have to have the fighting spirit. You have to force moves and take chances.

That's what chess is all about. One day you give your opponent a lesson, the next day he gives you one.

I like to make them squirm.

I like the moment when I break a man's ego.

There are tough players and nice guys, and I'm a tough player.

I am the best player in the world and I am here to prove it.

You know, I can beat all those guys.

There's no one alive I can't beat.

Let's play. I'm willing to play anywhere.

I add status to any tournament I attend.

Genius. It’s a word. What does it really mean? If I win I'm a genius. If I don't, I'm not.

Patzer sees check, Patzer makes check.

When I was eleven, I just got good.

The turning point in my career came with the realization that Black should play to win instead of just steering for equality.

If I win a tournament, I win it by myself. I do the playing. Nobody helps me.

If you don't win, it’s not a great tragedy - the worst that happens is that you lose a game.

Don't even mention losing to me. I can't stand to think of it.

Chess is a matter of delicate judgment, knowing when to punch and how to duck.

A strong memory, concentration, imagination, and a strong will. (on what it took to become a strong chess player)

I know people who have all the will in the world, but still can't play good chess.

I really love the dark of the night. It helps me to concentrate.

It’s pretty tough because of all the tension and all the concentration, sitting there hour after hour. It’s...exhausting.

It’s like taking a five hour final examination.

Different people feel differently about resigning.

It doesn't pay to be petty like they are.

They've almost ruined chess.

The Russians have fixed world chess.

You know I'm finished with the old chess because it's all just a lot of book and memorization you know.

The old chess is too limited. Imagine playing cards, black jack for example, and every time the dealer has the same starting hand you have the same starting hand. What's the point?

I have nothing to do with politics. I came here (Yugoslavia) to play chess and nothing else.

I despise the media.

Is it against the law to kill a reporter?

They like to write only bad things about me.

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

I think it's almost definite that the game is a draw theoretically.

Tactics flow from a superior position.

Best by test. (on 1.e4)

I wanted to give them something to think about when they prepare for me in future tournaments. (on why he played 1.d4, 1.c4 & 1.Nf3 a few times)

It's just a matter of throwing in a few sacrifices, then checkmate! (on playing against the Sicilian Dragon)

For the first lesson, I want you to play over every column of Modern Chess Openings, including the footnotes. And for the next lesson, I want you to do it again. (advice to his biographer, Frank Brady, who had asked for chess lessons)

Concentrate on material gains. Whatever your opponent gives you take, unless you see a good reason not to.

My opponents make good moves too. Sometimes I don't take these things into consideration.

As Olafsson showed me, White can win... It's hard to believe. I stayed up all night analyzing, finally convincing myself, and, incidentally, learning a lot about Rook and Pawn endings in the process.

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.

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.

I'd like to travel around, be an international playboy. They have all that money; they could really do it right. Look at (Errol) Flynn.

You're a good guy. I like you. Twenty thousand will do it. (to a Dutch chess promoter)

Yeah, I used to dress badly until I was about sixteen. But people just didn't seem to have enough respect for me, you know And I didn't like that, so I decided I'd have to show them they weren't any better than me, you know? They were sort of priding themselves. They would say, 'He beat us at chess, but he's still just an uncouth kid.' So I decided to dress up.


Well, I'm not sure I know what you mean by a prima donna, but if something doesn't interest me or if someone bores me, or if I think they're a phony, I just don't bother with them, that's all.

I don't think so. I don't like to see millionaires in there. He has it too soft, you know. I don't think he's ever had any hardships. Besides, he doesn't have any class. He puts his hands in his coat pockets. God, that's horrible! (on whether he would vote for John Kennedy)

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.

Lots of the time I'm traveling around. Europe, South America, Iceland. But when I'm home, I don't know, I don't do much. I get up at eleven o'clock maybe. I'll get dressed and all, look at some chess books, go downstairs and eat. I never cook my own meals. I don't believe in that stuff. I don't eat in luncheonettes or Automats either. I like a waiter to wait on me. Good restaurants. After I eat I usually call up some of my chess friends, go over and analyze a game or something. Maybe I'll go to a chess club. Then maybe I'll see a movie or something. There's really nothing for me to do. Maybe I'll study some chess book.

She and I just don't see eye to eye together. She's a square. She keeps telling me that I'm too interested in chess, that I should get friends out- side of chess, you can't make a living from chess, that I should finish high school and all that nonsense. She keeps in my hair and I don't like people in my hair, you know, so I had to get rid of her. (speaking about his mother)

My sister bought me a set at a candy store and taught me the moves.

Reshevsky and I are the only ones in America who try (to earn a living from chess). We don't make much. The other masters have outside jobs. Like Rossolimo, he drives a cab. Evans, he works for the movies. The Russians, they get money from the government. We have to depend on tournament prizes. And they're lousy. Maybe a couple hundred bucks. Millionaires back this game, but they're all cheap. Look what they do for golf: thirty thousand dollars for a tournament is nothing. But for chess they give a thousand or two and they think it's a big deal. The tournament has to be named after them, everybody has to bow down to them, play when they want, everything for a couple thousand dollars which is nothing to them anyhow. They take it off their income tax. These people are cheap. It's ridiculous.

It's the fault of the chess players themselves. I don't know what they used to be, but now they're not the most gentlemanly group. When it was a game played by the aristocrats it had more like you know dignity to it. When they used to have the clubs, like no women were allowed and everybody went in dressed in a suit, a tie, like gentlemen, you know. Now, kids come running in their sneakers. Even in the best chess club-and they got women in there. It's a social place and people are making noise, it's a madhouse. (on the lack of financial support for chess)

I don't care! I don't have to show anybody my games just because they're a big shot!

All my games are real.

There was open collusion between the Russian players. They agreed ahead of time to draw the games they played against each other. Every time they drew they gave each other half a point.

The Russians have held my title for ten years and they're going to be in for it when I win the Championship. They're going to have to wait and play under my conditions.

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 Patzer I'll put them in their place.

I usually never stay at the board after a game. Especially against Spassky. I made a dumb suggestion and he refuted it instantly! I know I'm going to have to play him some day and it was really stupid to look like such a jerk in front of him. (on a '66 post mortem)

I haven't had any congratulations from Spassky yet. I think I'll send him a telegram. Congratulations on winning the right to meet me for the championship. (after defeating Petrosian in the '71 Candidates Final)

I'm not afraid of Spassky. The world knows I'm the best. You don't need a match to prove it. (just prior to their '72 match)

Americans like a winner. If you lose, you're nothing. I'm going to win, though. It's good for the match that Spassky has a plus score against me. We've met five times. He's won three times and we've drawn twice. But I'm a stronger player and a long match favors me.

First of all, I'll make a tour of the whole world, giving exhibitions. I'll charge unprecedented prices. I'll set new standards. I'll make them pay thousands. Then I'll come home on a luxury liner. First-class. I'll have a tuxedo made for me in England to wear to dinner. When I come home I'll write a couple chess books and start to reorganize the whole game. I'll have my own club. The Bobby Fischer ... uh, the Robert J. Fischer Chess Club. It'll be class. Tournaments in full dress. No bums in there. You're gonna have to be over eighteen to get in, unless like you have special permission because you have like special talent. It'll be in a part of the city that's still decent, like the Upper East Side. And I'll hold big international tournaments in my club with big cash prizes. And I'm going to kick all the millionaires out of chess unless they kick in more money. Then I'll buy a car so I don't have to take the subway any more. That subway makes me sick. It'll be a Mercedes-Benz. Better, a Rolls Royce, one of those fifty-thousand-dollar custom jobs, made to my own measure. Maybe I'll buy one of those jets they advertise for businessmen. And a yacht. Flynn had a yacht. Then I'll have some more suits made. I'd like to be one of the Ten Best-dressed Men. That would really be something. I read that Duke Snyder made the list. Then I'll build me a house. I don't know where but it won't be in Greenwich Village. They're all dirty, filthy animals down there. Maybe I'll build it in Hong Kong. Everybody who's been there says it's great. Art Linkletter said so on the radio. And they've got suits there, beauties, for only twenty dollars. Or maybe I'll build it in Beverly Hills. The people there are sort of square, but like the climate is nice and it's close to Vegas, Mexico, Hawaii, and those places. I got strong ideas about my house. I'm going to hire the best architect and have him build it in the shape of a rook. Yeah, that's for me. Class. Spiral staircases, parapets, everything. I want to live the rest of my life in a house built exactly like a rook. (on what he'd do when he won the world championship)

When I win, I'll put my title on the line every year, maybe even twice. I'll give players a chance to beat me.

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! Besides, I want money so I can tell some people I don't like to go ... yeah. (on what he'd do when he won the world championship)

Well, you know, in America everybody is interested in making the dollar fast. In Yugoslavia no matter how much you hustle you're not going to get rich, so you might as well play chess.

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 is like an idiot savant, outside of chess he knows nothing.

Karpov, Kasparov, Korchnoi have absolutely destroyed chess by their immoral, unethical, prearranged games. These guys are really the lowest dogs around.

Maybe I should publish the book. The world is coming to an end anyway! (on My 60 Memorable Games)

I don't need them to correct anything for me, even with the help of computers. Of course the book has mistakes, but I can correct them myself. They changed my things on purpose. (on changes made to the new edition of My 60 Memorable Games)

Most people are sheep, and they need the support of others.

I read a book lately by Nietzsche and he says religion is just to dull the senses of the people. I agree.

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. (on his involvement with a religious cult)

I know the Bible says, "Vengeance is God's." I'm not trying to "get" those guys. And I'm not interested in getting my money back. I'm trying to protect others. I just want to make sure that nobody gets ripped off mentally. (on the Worldwide Church of God)

You know, I didn't improve my living standard one bit either. It wasn't like I just didn't help my mom. I didn't do anything for myself either. You know I don't even have a car. About the only luxury I got was quite a few $400 suits. I got ten maybe. But still what I'm saying is that that is still not a lot of money spent on me considering all the money I made. It wasn't like I was living high on the hog and neglecting my mom, but she's living real poor in a crummy apartment in England. She doesn't even have a bathroom. I just saw her a few months ago. I have to help my mom now. She's an old woman. She could soon be gone and here I was giving money so that Rader and these guys can have their parties in Beverly Hills. This whole thing is so sick.

They 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. (on the Worldwide Church of God)

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.

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.

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.

Fischer is Fischer, but a horse is a horse. -- Mikhail Tal (upon hearing Bobby Fischer’s claim that he could beat any female player in the world giving her knight odds)

My God, he plays so simply! -- Alexei Suetin (speaking of Bobby Fischer)

It is difficult to play against Einstein’s theory. -- Mikhail Tal (on his first loss to Fischer)

Bobby just drops the pieces and they fall on the right squares. -- Miguel Najdorf

Do you realize Fischer almost never has any bad pieces? He exchanges them, and the bad pieces remain with his opponents. -- Yuri Balashov

Play out a boring game to the end and funny things can happen; Fischer knew it. -- Hans Ree

You know you're going to lose. Even when I was ahead I knew I was going to lose. -- Andrew Soltis (on playing against Fischer)

It began to feel as though you were playing against chess itself. -- Walter Shipman (on playing against Fischer)

When you play Bobby, it is not a question if you win or lose. It is a question if you survive. -- Boris Spassky

In complicated positions, Bobby hardly had to be afraid of anybody. -- Paul Keres

It was clear to me that the vulnerable point of the American Grandmaster was in double-edged, hanging, irrational positions, where he often failed to find a win even in a won position. -- Efim Geller (on Fischer)

In Fischer's hands, a slight theoretical advantage is as good a being a queen ahead. -- Isaac Kashdan

Nonsense was the last thing he was interested in, as far as chess was concerned. -- Elie Agur (on Fischer)

His chess was always razor-sharp, rational and brilliant. One of the best ever. -- Dave Regis (on Fischer)

Bobby Fischer has an enormous knowledge of chess and his familiarity with the chess literature of the USSR is immense. -- Boris Spassky

He turned the methods of the Soviet school of chess against it: Botvinnik-style scientific study of all areas of the game, in-depth openings preparation that has probably only been equaled or bettered by Kasparov, and a passionate will to win that only Alekhine and Larsen could match. -- John Nunn (on Fischer)

As with Steinitz, Fischer's genius has often been concealed by controversies away from the board. Like Lasker, Fischer has raised chess to new financial heights despite frequent retreats from serious play. And, like Capablanca, Fischer is recognized by millions of non-players and has won the game many new enthusiasts. -- Andy Soltis

President of the chess players' trade union. -- Boris Spassky (speaking of Fischer)

The chess heroes nowadays should not forget that it was owing to Fischer that they are living today in four- and five- star hotels, getting appearance fees, etc. -- Lev Khariton

No other master has such a terrific will to win. At the board he radiates danger, and even the strongest opponents tend to freeze, like rabbits when they smell a panther. Even his weaknesses are dangerous. As white, his opening game is predictable - you can make plans against it - but so strong that your plans almost never work. In the middle game his precision and invention are fabulous, and in the end game you simply cannot beat him. -- Anonymous German Expert

Of course a great player like that has no weak spots. What a player like that does have are absolutely strong spots, so you surely don't want him to utilize his strengths, because then your chances decrease to zero. It's not surprising - chess being as complicated as it is - that Fischer had the greatest problems with positions, which were unclear in an unthematic way. When in effect everything just depended on accurate calculation. In those kinds of positions, he is still better than me of course, but the difference is not that great anymore, because it's just extremely difficult for both of us. The chance that he will make an error increases, whereas in a thematic or technical position he will just play perfectly from beginning to end and your chances of surviving are zero. -- Edmar Mednis

He only takes a draw when it's hopeless or when he's afraid he might get hurt in the position. When I analyzed with him he would say: "I kill him if I get this position." He deplores positions without counterplay. Even if he's in bad shape, there must be tension. This is the essence of his chess style. And that's the difference between him and Reshevsky. Sammy can defend a passive position. -- Arthur Bisguier (on Fischer)

Fischer was a master of clarity and a king of artful positioning. His opponents would see where he was going but were powerless to stop him. I like to say that Bobby Fischer was the greatest Russian player ever. All of his great opening moves came from the Russians. He studied all of their methods. But what made Fischer a genius was his ability to blend an American freshness and pragmatism with Russian ideas about strategy. -- Bruce Pandolfini

His opening repertoire was fairly narrow but virtually impeccable. He did not force play into particular channels but played with great objectivity into whatever offered the best winning chances, be it a tactical or positional middlegame or an ending. He rarely lost the initiative, but could defend well when it was necessary. He could be brilliant but did not seek brilliancy for its own sake; he preferred the point on the crosstable. Psychologically he was strong, usually coming back with powerful wins to avenge past defeats. -- Tim Harding

I consider Fischer to be one of the greatest opening experts ever. His adventures with the Poison Pawn Najdorf Sicilian are amazing, legendary in my mind. He challenged the world to out analyze him, they knew he would play that variation, many prepared special novelties against him, and still he consistently won with that risky line. Only Polugaevsky comes to mind in analyzing an opening to the level Fischer did, the Polugaevsky variation of the Najdorf Sicilian. -- Keith Hayward

Fischer proved to me how gifted (regarding openings) he was with his first match against Spassky. The guy played openings and defenses for the first time in his life almost perfectly against a world champion! As a human being, the guy's values are not in touch with the real world, but when it comes to pure chess knowledge, he has no equal! -- Keith Hayward

There is only one thing Fischer does in chess without pleasure: lose! -- Boris Spassky

There's never before been a chess player with such a thorough knowledge of the intricacies of the game and such an absolutely indomitable will to win. I think Bobby is the greatest player that ever lived. -- Lisa Lane

Bobby Fischer is the greatest chess player who has ever lived. -- Ken Smith

Fischer does not merely outplay opponents; he leaves them bodily and mentally glutted. Fisher himself speaks of the exultant instant in which he feels the 'ego of the other player crumbling.' -- George Steiner

Fischer is the profoundest student of chess who ever lived. He reads incessantly, forgets nothing, turns knowledge into action with monstrous precision and ferocity. -- Brad Darrach

After World War II, the chess scene was dominated by the Soviet Union, or rather by the Russians. The only exception, the only person who managed to put an end to Russian dominance was Fischer, which testifies to his genius. -- Zoltan Ribli

At this time Fischer is simply a level above all the best chessplayers in the world. -- John Jacobs

Fischer is the strongest player in the world. In fact, the strongest player who ever lived. -- Larry Evans

Our position - using here the royal "we" - is that the Fischer of 1971 and 1972 was the strongest player in chess history, whereas the Kasparov of 1985 - 2001 is the Muhammed Ali of Chess. Which is to say, the greatest. -- Larry Parr

Bobby Fischer is the greatest chess genius of all time! -- Alexander Kotov

Fischer is the greatest genius to descend from the chess heavens. -- Mikhail Tal

Geniuses like Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare and Fischer come out of the head of Zeus, seem to be genetically programmed, know before instructed. -- John Collins

Bobby is the finest chess player this country ever produced. His memory for the moves, his brilliance in dreaming up combinations, and his fierce determination to win are uncanny. Not only will I predict his triumph over Botvinnik, but I'll go further and say that he'll probably be the greatest chess player that ever lived. -- John Collins

Only the young generation of fearless fighters can destroy the Fischer myth. You must not let him impose on you his style, which is like snake poison. The old- fashioned way, heavy with security devices, incessant tiptoeing on shallow waters of draws, offers no hope against Fischer. -- Henrique Mecking

The life of a chess master is much more difficult than that of an artist - much more depressing. An artist knows that someday there'll be recognition and monetary reward, but for the chess master there is little public recognition and absolutely no hope of supporting himself by his endeavors. If Bobby Fischer came to me for advice, I certainly would not discourage him - as if anyone could - but I would try to make it positively clear that he will never have any money from chess, live a monk-like existence and know more rejection than any artist ever has, struggling to be known and accepted. -- Marcel Duchamp

He was in the perfect atmosphere to learn chess. There weren't so many good books then but guys like Artie Bisguier, Bill Lombardy, Kmoch and Walter Shipman would help him all they could. Anything he wanted to know, they would try to help him with. -- Ron Gross (on the young Fischer)

I like to analyze as well as most, but Bobby would just go on and on. I had to get out of there sometimes and take a break. -- Ron Gross

Fischer was a good kid but very unsophisticated about anything but chess. It was all chess for him, every waking moment. We'd go down to the Four Continents bookstore and he'd buy any Russian chess material he could get his hands on. He'd learned enough Russian to get the gist of prose and he just absorbed the chess part. -- Ron Gross

I was expecting to meet a young boy in strange clothes, making rude remarks all the time, but it was a great pleasure for me to see quite another person. -- Alexander Kotov (on meeting a young Fischer)

Bobby liked to look at pretty girls all right. He had a good eye. He was way too shy to ever go up and talk to them though. -- Ron Gross

Bobby wouldn't go out with women who knew who he was, but he was too shy to ask out the ones who didn't. -- Mike Franett

When I was ill in Curacao, Bobby Fischer made a point of visiting me in the hospital. -- Mikhail Tal

When I asked Fischer why he had not played a certain move in our game, he replied: "Well, you laughed when I wrote it down!" -- Mikhail Tal

Many chess players were surprised when after the game, Fischer quietly explained: "I had already analyzed this possibility" in a position which I thought was not possible to foresee from the opening. -- Mikhail Tal

Suddenly it was obvious to me in my analysis I had missed what Fischer had found with the greatest of ease at the board. -- Mikhail Botvinnik

Well, he was pretty intense all right but when something struck him as being funny, he had a great laugh. It's like he tried to hold it in and then this big, booming laugh kind of escaped. We always got along well. He could be fun but the subject was almost always chess. And, by the way, there was no trace of anti- Semitism in him back then. That came later, after his religious phase in the early 70's. When he got involved with The Church of God he blamed the Jews for killing Christ and then, when he became an atheist, he blamed them for everything. -- Ron Gross

He helped my mother in the kitchen and was very friendly. My sister Sophia and I played blitz with Bobby occasionally and we realized that he was still a very strong and capable chess player. -- Susan Polgar (on being visited by Fischer in Hungary)

Do you want to come with me to the boys' room, then we'll see who is Jewish? (on being reminded by a reporter that he was half Jewish)

I am not today, nor have I ever been a Jew, and as a matter of fact, I am uncircumcised.

Being Jewish myself, I somehow didn't see the problem: who cares what a mentally ill (but strangely likable) individual says? If he didn't make some money at chess, I could see him becoming a street person, shaking his fists at cars as they passed by his corner of the block. Isn't it preferable to have him in a self-sufficient position rather than as a liability of the state? -- Jeremy Silman (on Fischer)

He had a funny habit: while his opponent was pondering a move, he would now and then brush off specks of dust, real or imaginary, from the opponent’s side of the chessboard. Eventually, Petrosian broke him of the habit by giving him a rap on the fingers. -- Alexander Koblentz

He knew what was going on. He just waited until someone broached the subject. He had learned that people were often hesitant to say anything to him he might not want to hear and he used that to his advantage. -- Ron Gross

Being a friend of Fischer obviously is no undivided pleasure, though being Fischer seems sadder. -- Hans Ree

It was simple. Bobby hadn't played in a long time. He knew Spassky was a much more dangerous opponent for him than Petrosian and he got to save all his preparation for another day. -- Ron Gross (on why Fischer agreed to play second board in the 1970 USSR vs. The World match)

He wanted to give the Russians a taste of their own medicine. -- Larry Evans (on Fischer)

Russians have held the chess World Championship in all but three of the past thirty-four years. Bobby is the man who will break that chain. Definitely. Maybe not in 1963, maybe not even in 1966, but eventually, for sure. -- Frank Brady

It is hard to say how their match will end, but it is clear that such an easy victory as in Vancouver (against Taimanov) will not be given to Fischer. I think Larsen has unpleasant surprises in store for him, all the more since having dealt with Taimanov thus (a 6-0 victory), Fischer will want to do just the same to Larsen and this is impossible. -- Mikhail Botvinnik

Not that the two whitewash matches were against wimps (Taimanov and Larsen, both powerhouses) or as easy as the scores suggest, but heck, after you lose three or four in a row against a player like Fischer you may as well call in sick with the old "the dog ate my preparation" and get out of town. -- Mig Greengard

I knew of course that Spassky, the reigning World Champion, was a very strong player, but I had the idea that Fischer, my chess idol then, was a player of another caliber, someone in a class of his own. -- Garry Kasparov

Spassky will not be psyched out by Fischer. -- Mike Goodall (on their '72 World Championship match)

If you aren't afraid of Spassky, then I have removed the element of money. -- Jim Slater (on doubling the prize fund for the '72 championship match)

Dear Bobby, Your convincing victory at Reykjavik is eloquent witness to your complete mastery of the world’s most challenging game. The championship you have won is a great personal triumph for you and I am pleased to join countless of your fellow citizens in extending my heartiest congratulations and best wishes. -- President Richard Nixon (telegram sent to Fischer upon winning the world championship)

Bobby Fischer won. And this is only the beginning! -- Burt Hochberg (on Fischer's winning the championship in '72)

When I played Bobby Fischer, my opponent fought against organizations - the television producers and the match organizers. But he never fought against me personally. I lost to Bobby before the match because he was already stronger than I. He won normally. -- Boris Spassky

There is little doubt that the Soviet Chess Federation had been severely embarrassed by Fischer's victory over their boy in 1972 and in view of the long- standing Fischer-USSR conflict were unlikely to agree to anything suggested by the "American". -- Nigel Davies

Fischer's victories brought problems for many people in the Soviet camp, because it was thought there had been failures of training or discipline that should be corrected. No one could accept that it was simply Fischer's genius that was causing the trouble. -- Garry Kasparov

He's completely natural. He plays no roles. He's like a child. Very, very simple. -- Zita Rajcsanyi (Fischer's supposed girlfriend)

Bobby pulls me out of oblivion. He makes me fight. It's a miracle. -- Boris Spassky (on their '92 rematch)

My God, it is a miracle! Bobby is so kind, so friendly. He is normal! -- Boris Spassky (on their first meeting before the '92 rematch)

Well, I must prepare to bite the crocodile. -- Boris Spassky (on preparing for the '92 rematch with Fischer)

Spassky and Fischer were chess artists each trying to paint the Mona Lisa while grabbing at the other’s brush. -- Larry Parr (on the '92 match)

It was clean, crystalline, pure, like Capablanca in a way. This is what no one knew in advance. How would he play? Not even Bobby knew. -- Lothar Schmid (on Fischer's play in the first game of the '92 rematch with Spassky)

The legend of the best player of chess has been destroyed. -- Garry Kasparov (on Fischer's play during most of the '92 rematch with Spassky)

He is too lazy to study the new opening theory and he believes that he is World Champion, so why should he play? -- Boris Spassky (on Fischer playing again after their '92 rematch)

I was astonished to discover how unorthodox his views were about the great chess masters of the past. Lasker, considered by many the greatest chess player who ever lived, was dismissed by Bobby as "a weak player". He told me he had played through the games of Alekhine but they were "nothing too interesting...he'd make some maneuvers and then the other guy would fall for some combination." -- Leonard Barden

I still hope to kill Fischer. -- Boris Spassky

I had the pleasure of introducing Boris Spassky to the great American player (Fischer). They became friends instantly and have remained so until this day. -- David Bronstein

Already at 15 years of age he was a Grandmaster, a record at that time, and his battle to reach the top (sometimes, it seemed, a battle with himself) was the background for all the major chess events of the 1960s; when he didn't play (as in the two Candidates series won by Spassky) he was like Banquo's ghost at MacBeth's feast. -- Tim Harding

FIDE has decided against my participation in the 1975 World Chess Champion title.

While it is a cause for regret that Fischer did not continue to produce scintillating games, he perhaps had a greater impact on chess than any other twentieth century player -- John Nunn

Fischer prefers to enter chess history alone. -- Miguel Najdorf

Since all these books so distort what I consider to be the true Bobby, I've become skeptical about chess biography. A hundred years from now no one's going to have the slightest idea what Bobby Fischer was like because very few people today have a true idea of him. -- Ed Edmondson

Bobby is the most misunderstood, misquoted celebrity walking the face of this earth. -- Yasser Seirawan

While there can be no excuse for the public statements he has made, there can be understanding and even sympathy - for him, if not for his illness. -- Frank Berry Jr. (on Fischer)

Many people allow their judgments concerning Fischer the individual to influence their judgment of Fischer the chessplayer. -- Ed Kennedy

The only positive contribution to chess from Fischer in the last 20 years. -- Viktor Korchnoi (on the Fischer clock)

Is Fischer quite sane? -- Salo Flohr

Bobby is not crazy like they say. And believe me, I know crazy. He simply failed to keep up normal relations. -- Viktor Korchnoi

No. Not crazy. Irrational judgment. Trauma of the childhood. No, the father. If you mention the father, he will not speak the whole night. Mother, he calls every day. And the sister. Trauma of the childhood. Bad instruction. Poor Bobby. -- Jezdimir Vasiljevic (on whether he thought Fischer was crazy and whether his problems stemmed from his relationship with his mother)

Fischer, who may or may not be mad as a hatter, has every right to be horrified. -- Jeremy Silman (on changes made to the new edition of My 60 Memorable Games)

He just wouldn't listen to reason. -- Larry Evans (on Fischer)

Fischer is a law unto himself. -- Larry Evans

Even as a boy, Bobby was his own man. He knew what he wanted, he felt that he knew what was right, and he made his own decisions. Once convinced of something, his integrity, pride and absolute independence ruled out any compromise. Once he made up his mind there was no changing it. Many often had a go at it; Ethel and I never did. And even when the general consensus was that he was dead wrong, it turned out more often than not that he was right. As the heart has its own reasons, so has genius. -- Jack Collins

Fischer became paranoid about giving away his secrets. -- Larry Evans

Fischer is under obligation to nobody. -- Joseph Platz

I guess a certain amount of temperament is expected of geniuses. -- Ron Gross

The huge egos of great chess players are legendary. Psychologists have been amazed by their vanity, have studied it, and anecdotes concerning it are abundant. But never before has there been such a prima donna as Bobby. Already he has managed to alienate and offend almost everybody in the chess world. That includes officials, patrons, writers, almost everybody and anybody who might be in a position to help him in his career. -- Al Horowitz

It is, sadly, altogether too easy, in fact effortless, to find legions of people, not just chess players, who have every reason to say, and have (and please believe me that I do not do this out of spite or rancor) from the earliest days of Fischer's career to this very day, he has been labeled: brash, arrogant, selfish, self-centered, boorish, loutish, cruel, unreasonable, difficult, impossible, inconsiderate, ungrateful, petty, petulant, sulking, crass, insensitive, irrational, contentious, argumentative, aggravating, insulting, crazy, wicked, and mad. I would tend to agree. -- Paul Kollar

He has hurt and abandoned those who have helped him, those who have admired him, and those who have loved him. He has rejected calls from his friends, his community of fellow chess players, and from his country to do what was right or fitting. He has displayed a McCarthyite, commie-bashing, jingoistic political stance while inexplicably avoiding military service, despite having been a 1A-draft candidate, attaining a very convenient rejection from his local draft board. His erstwhile cold war patriotism was later much diluted by his defying, and spitting upon, State Department edicts. He skulked away from the first challenge he had for the, not his, world title, and was happy to let the world think he was victimized. He cloaked his fearful evasion with an over- elaborate pretense of remaining steadfast and principled, a favorite trick of his, and gulled many thanklessly loyal supporters into making tortured and quasi-moral excuses for him. Yet before this pathetic farce, he played not one single game, not one, as champion. What cabal or KGB conspiracy was responsible for this craven non- performance? -- Paul Kollar

Ironically, if Fischer had behaved impeccably at Reykjavik, his overall superior skill would have carried him through anyway; such was the level of his play then. And if Fischer, three years later, gave FIDE, or even Karpov, the right to decide all the match issues, and behaved as graciously as any perfect host, he would have won that match too. He was inhumanly great. He was indisputably the best chess player of all time. But this is very difficult for some of us to see and admit unless we turn off all peripheral vision, and suspend all moral judgments until...when? Is near-perfect chess worth this sacrifice? If we were to learn, nightmarishly, that Beethoven was an arsonist, or an abuser of children, would his string quartets still thrill and lift us? It's a bit of a dilemma. What can we legitimately excuse for the sake of art? Fischer has not, of course, physically hurt anyone. But he has, in my opinion, been guilty of chronic, execrable bad behavior for forty plus years. He has, by repeated, continual assaults on common standards of decency and social decorum, approached, if not reached, the level of the sociopath. His actions immediately before the match at Reykjavik and during the first three games should have resulted in a permanent censure, or at least a day or two in the stocks. -- Paul Kollar

Fischer sacrificed virtually everything most of us "weakies" (to use his term) value, respect, and cherish, for the sake of an artful, often beautiful board game, for the ambivalent privilege of being its greatest master. He even sacrificed his mother, Regina, to become the King of Chess. Anything is permissible if it wins...sac the queen...the king's the thing...isn't it, Father? Wherever you are, isn't it? -- Paul Kollar


Bobby Fischer’s current state of mind is indeed a tragedy. One of the world’s greatest chess players - the pride and sorrow of American chess. -- Frank Brady (on Fischer)

Regardless of Bobby’s recent hate-filled rantings, which I abhor, he is nonetheless one of the greatest chessplayers of all time. -- Frank Brady

The Unknown remains, probably forever inexplicable, regardless of how many yellowed game scores, cracked newspaper clippings, and curled and faded old photos are uncovered. My appreciation, even awe at his chess talent aside, the nicest thing I can say about Bobby Fischer is that he's a genuine enigma. -- Paul Kollar

You want to know what I want? I'll tell you what I want. I want back what Bobby Fischer took with him when he disappeared. -- Ben Kingsley (from Searching For Bobby Fischer)

What is chess, do you think? Those who play for fun or not at all dismiss it as a game. The ones who devote their lives to it for the most part insist that it's a science. It's neither. Bobby Fischer got underneath it like no one before and found at its center, art. -- Ben Kingsley (from Searching For Bobby Fischer)

The beauty of his games, the clarity of his play, and the brilliance of his ideas have made him an artist of the same stature as Brahms, Rembrandt, and Shakespeare. -- David Levy (on Fischer)

Chess is not to him a means to an end, a subsidized sport, a forum for testing philosophic hypotheses, or an outlet for baser emotions. To Fischer, chess is an end in itself. -- Anthony Saidy

I regard him as a mythological combination of sorts, a centaur if you will, a synthesis between man and chess. -- Garry Kasparov (on Fischer)

If one may judge a player's strength by comparing him with his contemporaries, it seems to me that Fischer's achievement is unsurpassed. The gap between him and his closest rivals was the widest there ever was between a World Champion and the other top-ranking players of his time. He was some 10-15 years ahead of his time in his preparation and understanding. This could be attributed in part to his dedication to the game, which was unequaled by any other player before or since. -- Garry Kasparov

It’s impossible to compare two players from different epochs. It’s extremely unfair because we know more now and also because my opponents are stronger than those Fischer had to face. I am not trying to underestimate Fischer’s achievements! The only real point of comparison between the two of us is the size of the gaps between ourselves and our respective opponents. I think that the gap between Fischer and his opponents is still the widest in chess history. The only possible way to compare Fischer, Botvinnik, Morphy, Steinitz and Kasparov is to place them in the context of their eras and to measure the distance between themselves and their opponents. Fischer’s distance was vast! -- Garry Kasparov

By this measure, I consider him the greatest world champion. -- Garry Kasparov (on the gap between Fischer & his contemporaries)

Bobby never cared about money, though. His only desire was to prove that his choices were correct: He wanted chess to be important, because he was a chess player, and he wanted to be important. Bobby knew money was important, but he didn't have a clue why, outside of clothes and status. The only way he could accomplish what he wanted was to fight for a lot of money. Once he got it, he gave it away. He did not know how to spend it. And once he'd become champion, after, essentially, sacrificing his life for it, he didn't know how to spend his time. -- Bob Wade

There's no doubt that the title meant something to him. It meant more than anything. Proof of that is the fact that after winning it he stopped competing. But with or without the title, Bobby Fischer was unquestionably the greatest player of his time. -- Burt Hochberg

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