Bobby Fischer to play in Mainz?

by ChessBase
5/7/2003 – The Chess Classic will be staged from August 14 to 17 in Mainz, Germany. As reported it includes a "Fischerandom" match between Peter Svidler and Peter Leko, as well as a Chess960 Open in which the players start each game with a random shuffle position. Now the Mainz-Rheiner newspaper is speculating that Fischer himself may be present at the event.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


The Mainz-Rheiner newspaper reports (in German):

"It is unlikely, but not utopian," said the main organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt, who is trying to tempt the reclusive chess genius to visit the tournament in Mainz. If Schmitt were to succeed this would be a world sensation.

Hans-Walter Schmitt, experimenting with Vishy Anand and new roads in chess

After his famous victory over Boris Spassky in 1972 the excentric American did not play a single tournament but disappeared from the scene. Then, in 1992, almost exactly 20 years after the triumph of Reykjavik, Fischer beat Spassky again in an exhibition match in Belgrad. But his spectacular comeback in the middle of the Yugoslav civil war came at the price: Fischer went on the wanted list for breaking the American embargo against Yugoslavia and for spitting on a notification of the of the US foreign office during a press conference in Belgrade.

Fischer at the press conference, and playing Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992

The chess ghost Fischer has good reason to appear in Mainz in the year of his 60th birthday. The Chess Classic in the Rheingoldhalle is trying to make "Chess960" popular, a version of the game which the ex world champion, disgusted with the bland and unimaginative chess played at tournaments, invented. In his version the pieces behind the pawn rows are randomly shuffled, making all openings theory obsolete. Instead of theory you need creativity. During the Chess Classic in August Schmitt in fact wants to create a world Chess960 organisation and nominate the winner of the Leko-Svidler match the first Chess960 World Champion.

The connection to Fischer is very tenuous. Last year the Hungarian GMs (sic) Vlastimil Hort and Lajos Portisch were enchanted by the Mainz chess spectacle. Both belong to the few people who had the honour of playing a game against Fischer after his exile. Leko too has sat opposite the living legend at the chessboard. Will they be able to convince Fischer to come to Mainz?

Unfortunately there is a serious problem, the international arrest warrant. "Fischer would be immediately arrested at the airport," Schmitt fears. But he is determined to find a way to get the difficult genius to Mainz. "For $3000 per day we could hire a double in England," he jokes. "He looks exactly like Fischer, but plays miserable chess."

But Schmitt has another "big Fish" on his line: Fischer's 66-year-old rival Boris Spassky, who lives close to Paris and who seems willing enough to come to Mainz in August – either to comment on the games or to play himself. Best of all of course against Bobby Fischer.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register