Bobby Fischer, Cold War Chess Hero: His Rise And Eccentric Fall

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Bobby Fischer in an undated photo. Right: Fischer poses for a portrait in the photographer's home in 1971 in New York City, New York. Credits: IMDB; David Attie/Getty Images

There’s no sports story quite like the rise and fall of Bobby Fischer. This eccentric chess genius went from a national champion to having the weight of the United States on his shoulders, facing off against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. He spent decades honing his craft in order to defeat Russian master Boris Spassky and that country's well-oiled chess dynasty in 1972. His World Championship win ended the 30-year reign of the USSR in the world of chess, but life wasn’t a bed of roses for Fischer afterward.

Following his win in ’72 Fischer became a recluse and dropped out of official play. When he popped up on the chess scene again in 1992 it was as a contestant and a fugitive. Fischer was strange, but in 1972 he was America’s Cold War hope.