FBI Files On Fischer

The person who did more than anyone else to bring glory to America by humbling the Soviets at chess during the Cold War was spied on by the FBI. Although Bobby Fischer detested "the Commies" and beat them at their own game, the FBI kept tabs on him and his mother, who had studied medicine in Moscow for five years from 1933-38.

"They once believed she might be a Soviet spy, and that Moscow might have tried to enlist young Bobby as well," reported the Philadelphia Inquirer on its front page (11/17/02).

The heavily censored 900-page file suggests his real father probably was Paul Nemenyi, a Hungarian physicist who worked on the atomic bomb project in Chicago, where Bobby was born in 1943. Nemenyi met Regina Fischer a year earlier when he taught at the University of Denver, and he paid child support until his death in 1952.

Her husband Gerhardt Fischer was denied admission to America when Regina and her year-old daughter Joan returned in 1939. He spent the second World War in Chile; they were divorced in 1945.

High tuition fees and limited vacancies prevented Regina from becoming a doctor. She worked as a nurse and moved to Brooklyn with her children to study at New York University, then left in 1960 and finally got a medical degree in East Germany. She remarried and walked to Moscow in a radical antiwar peace demonstration.

I only saw Regina a few times and have a fleeting memory of a dark- haired, slim, intense woman. Joan later said her mother had a great intellect, boundless energy, spoke at least six languages, and was "a professional crusader."

When I collaborated with Bobby on his 60 MEMORABLE GAMES in 1967 his shabby flat in Brooklyn was roach-ridden and jammed with chess books, many written in the 19th century. "I don't like people in my hair, so I had to get rid of my mother," he said. Later they reconciled.

An FBI report in 1959 states: "A review of this case fails to reflect that the subject has been involved in Soviet espionage, and actually, there has been no allegation that she has been so engaged."

-- Larry Evans, June 23, 2003
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