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Douglaston's Own: Bobby Fischer

The controversial chess champion was a northeast Queens resident in the early 1970s.

Bobby Fischer was the 11th World Chess Champion and, for a time, a resident of Douglaston.

Born in Chicago in 1943, Fischer was already considered a brilliant chess player at age 13 following The Game of the Century, during which he played Donald Byrne in New York City.

Within a year, Fischer had played in and won eight United States Championships and, at 15, he became both the youngest ever grandmaster and World Championship candidate.

In the 11th World Chess Championship, he won with the only perfect score in the history of the tournament.

In 1971, Fischer became the number one rated chess player by the World Chess Federation and held onto the ranking for more than four years.

The following year, he defeated Russia’s Boris Spassky during the World Championship game in Reykjavik, Iceland in a match that drew great publicity for its Cold War overtones.

In the early 1970s, Fischer was living in Douglaston, but by the middle of the decade he had withdrawn himself from the public eye and became reclusive.

In 1992, he resurfaced to defeat Spassky in an unofficial rematch in Yugoslavia.

Fischer never returned to the U.S., where he owed income tax on the winnings from his games.

His life was later marked by several controversies.

The eccentric chess genius’s membership to the United States Chess Federation was permanently revoked after he applauded the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and sent a letter to Osama bin Laden.

Fischer, whose mother was Jewish, made frequent anti-Semitic statements as well as openly criticized the United States and Israel.

He later denied being a Jew.

The former chess champion eventually ended up in Iceland, where he lived until his death in 2008.

Fischer is still considered one of the greatest chess players of all time.

Stop by Patch every week to read about the neighborhood's famous former denizens in Douglaston's Own.

Lori Gross January 25, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Holy crud, he lived in Douglaston! That's nuts. The more you know!
Stuart Hersh January 26, 2012 at 04:12 PM
That he lived in Douglaston adds absolutely nothing to what is so good about Douglaston. Too bad Douglaston couldn't improve him. Being good at one thing, like chess, doesn't excuse being such an idiot about everything else. I hate speaking ill of the dead, but I'm afraid there is nothing but ill to speak of him.
Nathan Duke January 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Thanks for writing, Mr. Hersh. I agree with your comment "being good at one thing..." I thought it was important not to leave out such details in writing this profile of Fischer. Each week, I plan on doing a similar piece on well-known figures who have lived in the community. At some point, I'll write about John McEnroe, Angela Lansbury, Lidia Bastianich, Ginger Rogers and Hedda Hopper. If you know of any other ones you think would be good to profile, please let me know. Thanks!
Nathan Duke January 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
And I forgot to mention - this will cover both Douglaston and Little Neck.
Stuart Hersh January 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Nathan, Check the website for the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society (www.dlnhs.com) for a listing of many people of note who have lived in the area. You will find others whom neither of us has mentioned as yet.

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