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JULY 2, 2012
Bobby Fischer
On July 11, 1972, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer faced off in an arena in Reykjavik for the first game of the World Chess Championship. After 21 games and nearly two months of behind-the-scenes drama - including countless bizarre demands from Fischer - the eccentric 29-year-old American became the 11th World Chess Champion. The Cold War trappings of the match made it a media sensation. Fischer was lauded as a hero for bringing down the Soviets, who had long used chess as an example of their intellectual superiority over the West.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the “Match of the Century,” here are a few books and films about Bobby Fischer and the game that obsessed the country in the summer of ‘72.
Shenk chronicles chess from its beginnings in fifth-century Persia to the present, including historic matches and eminent players (the author’s own great-great-grandfather among them). Readers will come away with an understanding of the game’s perennial popularity.
Frank Brady met Bobby Fischer when the prodigy was 10 and shared some of his most dramatic triumphs - from becoming the youngest chess champ in U.S. history at age 13 to the 1972 world championship, which made Fischer the most famous man in the world. Brady charts his entire life - his unconventional Brooklyn childhood and his baffling poverty on L.A.’s Skid Row; his exile in Iceland and his pathological anti-Semitism (despite the fact that Fischer himself was Jewish) - in an attempt to answer the question: just who was Bobby Fischer?
This story of the notorious chess duel focuses less on the games themselves and more on the people, politics, and psychology of the championship. This entertaining account details the KGB presence at the games, the friction between the rebellious Spassky and Communist officials, and just how Fischer was able to bully officials into meeting his demands.
Bobby Fischer Against the World (a film by Liz Garbus)
More in the mood for a documentary? This haunting, beautiful film details the politically-charged climate surrounding the World Championship and explores the nature of genius and chess itself, enhanced by footage of Fischer throughout his life.

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