On October 17, 1956 Donald Byrne and Robert James Fischer sat down for a game of chess. What they did not realize is that that battle of the minds that was to ensue was to be dubbed by many as “The Game of the Century.”
Byrne, 26, was one of the top American Chess Masters at that time. He would go on to represent American in three Olympiads, and would earn the status of International Master.
Little Bobby Fischer was 13.
The fact that a child was able to defeat one of the top players in the country would be astounding enough, if it wasn’t for the fashion in which he was victorious. This youngster had both the foresight and the tenacity to offer up his most powerful piece on the board for sacrifice, in order for the opportunity to engage in the whirlwind attack that was to follow.
Fischer would go on to win the U.S. Open the following year and would achieve Grandmaster Status at the age of 15½ – the youngest player to do so. In an era of Soviet World Dominance, spanning about a half century, Fischer won the World Championship in 1972 against Boris Spassky, thus creating another bastion with which to defend the American ego against the onslaught of the Soviet machine.
After that match, Fischer not only failed to defend his title, but he withdrew from society and didn’t play chess for another 20 years.
Fischer Died yesterday at age 64. He was one of the brightest, most controversial, and least understood people to have lived in our lifetime.