Whether you’re a seasoned chess enthusiast or just getting into the game, you must have heard about Bobby Fischer. The American chess prodigy is considered the greatest chess player of all time by many players and experts, and his games are still studied by chess players to this day.
What exactly was special about Bobby Fischer, though? Did he have an exceptional IQ level that helped him conquer the chess game for decades?
The answer is yes! Bobby Fischer reportedly had an IQ score of 180, which is higher than the average person’s score. However, Fischer was known for his controversial opinions; some people even believe he suffered from mental illnesses.
Bobby Fischer’s genius mind is worth studying and analyzing. So, in this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the mind of Bobby Fischer!
Bobby Fischer Early Life: Born Genius
Born on March 9, 1943, in Chicago, Robert James Fischer, aka Bobby Fischer, started learning chess at 6 years old.
Fischer’s parents separated when he was only 2 years old, and he went to live with his mother and elder sister in Brooklyn.
He started learning chess when his sister Joan bought a chess set from a candy store. Joan quickly lost interest, and the mother didn’t have much free time to play chess. So, Bobby spent most of his time playing games against himself.
Later, Bobby got a chess book and started studying the game extensively. Fischer started honing his skills and raw talent by joining Brooklyn Chess Club.
The chess prodigy says that the club’s president, Carmine Nigro, was his inspiration and the reason he decided to go further in chess. Nigro was astonished by Fisher’s gameplay and style and decided to teach him more about chess.
Later, in 1956, Fischer joined the Manhattan Chess Club and started getting into competitive chess by the age of 8. Fischer formed a strong relationship with the chess master and author John Collins.
Under Collins’s mentorship, Fischer improved his chess games by studying a ton of books in Collin’s chess library.
The Game of the Century
Fischer’s intelligence and talent were apparent from an early age. His remarkable and meteoric rise through the chess ranks began in 1956 when he won the US Junior Chess Championship at only 13 years old. He was the youngest ever to do so, and guess what? His record stands until today.
Fischer was notorious for his ability to defeat older and more experienced chess players. Relying on his intelligence, photographic memory, and strategic thinking, Fischer has always caught the attention of professionals and experts during official games.
In 1956, Fischer took part in the J.Rosenwald Trophy Tournament in New York. At that time, this tournament only included the 12 best chess players in the country.
Despite being only 13 at that time, Fischer took the chess world by storm in his game vs. Donald Byrne, the international chess master who was 26 by that time.
Byrne had the upper hand regarding age and experience, but young Bobby Fischer showcased his bold and brilliant playstyle.
Fisher sacrificed his queen in the 17th move to unleash an unpredictable counterattack on Byrne’s queen and eventually win the game.
This unpredicted sacrifice and unique counterattack have been the talk of the chess world for over 50 years in a game that’s still studied and analyzed by chess masters today.
Following the game of the century against Byrne, Fischer participated in eight US championships, winning all of them with astonishing results.
Fischer didn’t stop there and became the youngest to win the US World Championship at only 14 years old; he was also the first American chess player ever to do so.
Fischer dropped out of high school when he was 16 to focus on his chess career. But despite his outstanding chess skills and captivating intelligence, he didn’t behave so well.
He canceled many matches for many reasons and held grudges against many people and organizations throughout the years.
Quite strange for someone with such a high level of intelligence, right?
One of the most fascinating aspects of Fisher’s career is his famous win streak in the early 1970s. He went on a winning streak of 20 games against the world’s best chess professionals. This prominent win streak earned Fischer a spot to face the reigning champion from the Soviet Union, David Spassky.
Chess Match of the Century
Fisher has crushed the chess world on his way to becoming the undisputed world champion. He defeated some of the world’s best grandmasters like Mark Taimanov, Bent Larsen, and the former world champion Tigran Petrosian.
So, what’s left for Bobby Fischer to accomplish?
The Soviet Union had been conquering the chess world at that time, and it wasn’t normal for an American chess player to be able to compete at this high level.
In 1972, the World Chess Championship wasn’t just a match between two of the greatest to ever sit at a chessboard. It was a battle between two countries as the match took place during the Cold War, which added more political tension to the match.
Once again, Fischer’s bold attitude and special requests appeared; he didn’t want to play the match in Iceland. However, Fischer finally agreed to play in Iceland when the prize fund was brought up to $250,000.
Finally, the game of the century was played in Reykjavík, Iceland. Despite Fischer missing the opening game and forfeiting the second one, he still managed to beat Spassky after 21 games with a score of 12½–8½ and became the World Chess Champion.
Bobby Fischer’s IQ Score
As a super-intelligent chess icon, Bobby Fischer certainly has a genius-level IQ score, right? Bobby Fischer’s IQ has been controversial among chess experts, scientists, and fans.
Unfortunately, there’s no documented or official IQ score for Bobby Fischer; perhaps he didn’t even know his IQ score.
However, some sources have claimed that Bobby Fishcer’s IQ score was 180, according to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC).
It’s widely believed that a professor of psychology at California University tested a group of young chess players, including Fischer, in his study about the correlation between chess skill and intelligence. Well, how does Fisher’s score stand regarding today’s IQ tests?
The WISC measures various cognitive abilities in children, such as working memory, perceptual reasoning, processing speed, and verbal comprehension.
All these skills are highly connected to one’s ability to play chess. That’s mainly because chess is a complex game that demands a big deal of mental and cognitive ability to be good at. But still, there are many versions of IQ tests, we can’t even confirm which version Fischer took.
Though, a score of 180 is far beyond the average IQ score, which puts Fischer among the top 0.1% of the world’s population in terms of intelligence.
This may be surprising, but some books claim that Bobby Fischer’s IQ is even higher than 180. In the book “Profile of a Prodigy,” Frank Brady said that Fischer had an IQ score of 189.
Another book, “Bobby Fischer: The Career and Complete Games of Bobby Fischer,” says that the American chess prodigy had an IQ of 195 at 9.
Whether we agree with these theories or not, let’s look at the lowest speculated number, which is 180. The IQ of an average person ranges from 85 to 115. This puts Fischer about 65 points ahead of the average person, which is a huge gap.
The Argument Over Bobby Fischer’s IQ
Since Fisher’s IQ score isn’t officially announced or documented, many still question it, and some even believe it’s not relatable to today’s standards. But why?
Let’s first look at the relationship between chess skills and IQ scores to further understand this argument.
An IQ test measures one’s ability to utilize input, information, and common sense to solve problems and answer complex questions.
While every IQ test assesses different criteria, most IQ test measures one’s cognitive abilities, such as:
- Creative thinking
- Pattern recognition
- Abstract reasoning
- Perceptual reasoning
- Fluid thinking
Many believe these skills are highly connected to one’s ability to play chess. Even many studies have proven the high correlation between chess skills and intelligence.
However, other experts disagree with these studies and believe that chess skill isn’t related to intelligence. In other words, some experts think Bobby Fischer relied on many other factors to become such a great chess player, that includes studying openings, practicing, and reading chess books.
But let’s not forget one crucial point; Bobby Fischer didn’t have any access to modern technologies like chess computers, which every chess professional uses nowadays.
All Fischer had was his brain, chess books, and chess boards, and he still managed to establish himself as one of the best chess players of all time.
To Wrap Up
So, what’s Bobby Fischer’s IQ?
Bobby Fischer reportedly has an IQ score of 180, which puts him among the top 0.1% of the world’s population. However, Bobby Fisher’s IQ score was never documented or announced, opening the room for speculations and debates about his IQ score.
Looking at the life of Bobby Fischer, it’s clear that he was a gifted person who devoted his life to chess. From his spectacular performances, since he was a child to his controversial opinions on chess and politics, Fischer is a one-of-a-kind person who will forever be a reference in the chess world.