Confrontations during the Cold war (1): the rising star of the united states

The Cold War was a fight without head-on clashes. Had there been a real war, the nuclear weapons of the two superpowers would have taken billions of lives, and brought the earth endless devastating catastrophes. It had to be a contest for strength, where the United States and the Soviet Union competed for everything: spaceflight, nuclear weapons, technology… and the most popular mind game – chess.

The Cold War

It seems to be obvious that the Soviet Union possessed absolute advantage against the United States when it comes to chess. After the Second World War, the Soviets began to dominate the chess world. “Inheriting” the title of the world champion became a mission for Soviet chess players. When the Soviet grandmaster Spassky had taken the honor from the previous Soviet world champion Petrosian, a chess star was rising in the United States. His name was Robert James Fischer.

Robert James Fischer, also called Bobby Fischer

For Fischer, chess was the whole world. He began to be indulged in chess at a young age, and he even gave up middle school and devoted himself entirely to chess. At the age of 15, he won the championship of the United States and became one of the top 8 players in the world. The Americans marveled at his achievements, and he became the hope of the whole United States to take the title of the world champion away from the Soviets.

In 1962, Fischer was qualified for the Candidates’ tournament to challenge the world champion. But he only finished fourth. He began a series of protests, in which he complained some Soviet players of arranging quick draws so that they could conserve their energy for games against Fischer. In addition, he accused some Soviet players of deliberately losing to their “accomplices” to ensure that Soviet players were always the winner. These accusations were thought to be correct, as the Soviet government wanted to maintain the dominant position of the Soviet players in the chess world and outmatch the United States. Within two years, Fischer’s proposal was adopted by FIDE, and the previous Candidates’ tournament was replaced by the format of knockout matches, where result manipulation was no longer possible for Soviet players.


This is Fischer. He had a sharp disposition and an acute insight. He also complained a lot, and sometimes even protested against issues that we usually consider as insignificant. In the 1967 Interzonal held in Tunisia, Fischer quarreled with the organizers and quit the tournament. This is because Fischer claimed himself a pious believer of Worldwide Church of God, which forbad any events on Saturday, God’s seventh-day Sabbath. The organizers respected Fischer’s religion and changed the schedule of the tournament, but the new schedule deprived Fischer of several rest days, which Fischer could not bear.

Fischer studying chess

On the other hand, Fischer was so obsessed with chess that he did not grumble anything related to his games. He was invited to participate in the Capablanca Memorial Tournament in Havana in 1965, but the government of the United States forbad him to go to Cuba. This is because Cuba was influenced by the Soviet Union and became a communist state under the regime of Fidel Castro. Like the Soviet Union, Cuba was considered as a true enemy of the United States. Therefore, Fischer agreed with the local organizers to play by telegram. It was a tough match for Fischer. Sending telegram for each move needed time, and one game usually lasted for eight hours; but Fischer never complained, because it was never tiresome for him to devote time to his true passion. Though the tournament was painstaking, Fischer still won the second place. His love in chess and his tenacity led him to go further and finally qualify as the challenger for the world champion.

(To be continued…)


-Bobby Fischer (August 20, 1962). “The Russians Have Fixed World Chess”. Sports Illustrated. Vol. 17 no. 8. pp. 18–19, 64–65. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

-Victim of His Own Success: The Tragedy of Bobby Fischer”. The Wall Street Journal. January 22, 2008. p. D8.

-Schonberg, Harold C. (1973). Grandmasters of Chess. J.B. Lippincott.

-Bisguier, Arthur; Soltis, Andrew (1974). American Chess Masters from Morphy to Fischer. Macmillan.



Young and active tournament player with excellent results including a 1st place at the BSSZ Aranytiz International Master, 1st place at the Chinese Youth Chess Championship G16, and part of the top 10 contenders in two World Chess Championships for girls G16 and G18.

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

MustaChess mascot, a chess piece with moustache

This website uses cookies. To learn more or opt-out, see our Privacy Notice.