The Boy Is the Master

When Bobby Fischer first won the U.S. chess championship three years ago at the age of 14, he was a shy, awkward, temperamental boy who wore corduroy trousers, ski sweaters, scuffed shoes, and unmatched socks. Last week, when the Brooklyn boy gained the title for the fourth straight time, Fischer, tall and assured, wore an olive-­tinted, Continental-style suit, Italian shoes, and a pastel shirt and tie.

At 17, the boy genius of the chess: board is becoming a man. His play has matured to match his clothes. Now, blended with the instinctive tactical brilliance he brings to chess, Fischer draws upon experience and finesse, two attributes born of competition against the finest players in the world.

For Fischer, 1961 is a decisive year. This summer, at a site still undetermined, he will join more than 30 international chessmasters in the biennial interzonal tournament. The six high scorers qualify for the candidates tournament next year.

Then the winner of the candidates tournament will meet the world champion.*

No American has held the world title since Paul Morphy in 1859, but Fisher stands a strong chance. "Bobby," said Jim Sherwin, an American chessmaster, "is the best player in the world--outside Russia. Can he beat the Russians? Maybe."

Fischer himself is more confident. "Give me two years," he said. "I'll win it."

*Russia’s Mikhail Tal will defend his world title against his countryman and former champion Mikhail Botvinnik in March.

Newsweek, January 16, 1961

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