September 1, 1972: American Bobby Fischer became the chess world champion
There is no board game in the world that takes more strategy and critical-thinking skills than chess. Its origins are believed to be traced back to 7th-century India, and it remains a popular two-player game. Compared to Scrabble or Monopoly, chess is the overlord of extreme intelligence. It’s a game that takes some serious practice and skill.
Only those who can think quickly and make tactful moves have proven to be successful, making this game super competitive. One man made history back in the early 1970s, and he is still a major name in the game decades later.
This young man was beyond talented in the game of chess
Bobby Fischer wasn’t your typical boy. After his sister, Joan, bought him a $1.00 chess set when he was only six years old, he began a remarkable journey as a living and breathing chess-playing prodigy.
Young Bobby became literally obsessed with the game, and in the year 1958, he became the youngest grandmaster ever recorded at the age of 15. His winning streak would continue far into adulthood, and his unprecedented win in 1972 would leave everyone in utter shock.
He earned a spotlight on the world stage
On September 1, 1972, Bobby Fischer single-handedly ended the 24-year Soviet Union winning streak in the world of chess. He defeated the defending world champ Boris Spassky in Iceland and proved his overwhelming prowess across the globe.
Fischer was even described by former world champion Mikhail Tal of Latvia as “the greatest genius to have descended from the chess heavens.”
Fischer was now known as the greatest player in all of history. But this recognition and pressure didn’t come without a price.
Bobby’s mental health rapidly declined
Fischer was known to be eccentric, especially when it came to the correct lighting and crowd behavior during a match. Although this may have seemed to be just a peculiar part of the young man’s personality, it became obvious that his obsession over the game was morphing into something more serious.
The game took over his life so forcefully that the world champ refused to play another game publicly after claiming his throne. Fischer rejected million-dollar deals and matches and chose to instead withdraw to obscurity.
The psychological toll the game took on Bobby Fischer became too much to bear, but one thing is for certain — this man caused chess to become more than just a board game. Long gone were the days when chess was simply restricted to a park bench. Bobby Fischer would forever be known as the man who didn’t play games when it came to winning.