Bobby Fischer | St. Louis Public Radio

Bobby Fischer

On Chess: Classy Game Or Cutthroat Competition?

Mar 26, 2020
World champion and Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen playing in the 2019 Sinquefield Cup.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

Among the general public, chess has a reputation for being more refined and classy than other sports.

This seemingly positive reputation actually has a negative effect on chess. It leaves people with the impression that chess is too boring and sophisticated for the average person to enjoy.

Chess legend champion Garry Kasparov will take a break from retirement to play Fabiano Caruana in the 2019 Chess360 tournament.
St. Louis Chess Club

Chess960, otherwise known as Fischer Random, is a chess variant that has struggled to find its place. It was invented and advocated for by Bobby Fischer, who thought that chess was becoming too reliant on opening theory.

The basic concept is quite simple: All the pawns start on their normal squares, but the back rank pieces are rearranged at random before the game begins. There are a couple of stipulations, however, which separate it from an older variant called “Shuffle Chess.” 

One of Harry Benson's iconic photographs of Bobby Fisher in Buenos Aires, 1971. From the collection of Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.
Harry Benson

Harry Benson, world-renowned photographer and International Photography Hall of Fame inductee,was the only person to have private access to Bobby Fischer during the 1972 World Chess Championship match in Reykjavík, Iceland. Benson captured intimate images of this time with Fischer and was the first person to deliver the news to Fischer that he had won the match.

Benson began photographing Fischer when on assignment for LIFE magazine in 1971. He was sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to cover the 1971 Candidates Match, and began to cultivate a relationship with Fischer, who was known for being notoriously camera-averse, guarded and socially awkward. Fischer defeated Tigran Petrosian at the Candidates Match, qualifying him for the World Chess Championship match.

(photo courtesy of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis)

 A Japanese native who relocated to St. Louis from Seattle last year to take advantage of the city's growing chess infrastructure will go after one of the sport's top American records this week.