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
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.