Fischer’s Views on Chess Masters

Edward Winter


Bobby Fischer (Chess Life & Review, front cover, October 1972)

We offer a compilation of Bobby Fischer’s recorded comments on other chessplayers, beginning with the full text of ‘The Ten Greatest Masters in History’ (pages 56-61 of Chessworld, January-February 1964). The article is reproduced with the kind permission of Frank Brady.

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chessworld fischer

chessworld fischer

chessworld fischer

chessworld fischer

chessworld fischer

chessworld fischer

In his idiosyncratic ‘ten best ever’ article in Chessworld Fischer said: ‘Many consider Alekhine a great opening theoretician, but I don’t think he was. He played book lines, but didn’t know them very well. He always felt that his natural powers would get him out of any dilemma.’

Finding this hard to accept, we put it to Hugh Myers, who replies as follows:

‘I have a good opinion of Alekhine’s opening play. Fischer was right in saying he played “book lines” but often they were book after he played them. Fischer, with his respect for Staunton and Anderssen, was more objective about players of the past than most modern GMs, but I think he underestimated Alekhine.


A Fischer Interview includes remarks by the American in conversation with Román Torán during the 1960 Olympiad in Leipzig, as published on page 648 of Ajedrez Español, July 1961 and pages 31-32 of “Bobby” Fischer su vida y partidas by Pablo Morán (Barcelona, 1971). The relevant extracts:

‘Torán: Who has been the best player of all time?

Fischer: Capablanca was possibly the greatest player in the entire history of chess.

Torán: When has better chess been played, in 1930 or now?

Fischer: There’s no comparison. Now there are far more good players, and technical knowledge is more extensive.

Torán: Who is currently the strongest player?

Fischer: It’s difficult to say. Botvinnik and Tal are among the best; I also like Spassky, but I think Petrosian is better than all of them. His weakness is too many draws, even against players he could beat easily. Maybe he lacks self-confidence.

The following quotes come from the press conference transcripts in No Regrets by Y. Seirawan and G. Stefanović (Seattle, 1992):

Fourth press conference, 21 September 1992 (page 116):

‘Paul Morphy was a great chessplayer, a genius. I’m a little embarrassed when I think that I’ve got a [commemorative] stamp and I’m still even alive. As far as I know he hasn’t got a stamp, at least not in America, and I think it is really outrageous that he hasn’t got a stamp. Nonentities have got a stamp. A few years ago, I think it was a hundredth anniversary of the birth of Capablanca, the Cuban world chess champion, and the Cubans sent me, I think, 30 stamps that they had published and printed about Capablanca just in one year. They already had stamps in earlier years of Capablanca. Morphy, I think everyone agrees, was probably the greatest genius of them all, and he’s never gotten a single stamp. That tells you something about our government.’

Regarding Alekhine, at the sixth press conference, 12 October 1992 (page 173):

‘... a very great player.’

See too: Articles about Bobby Fischer.

Latest update: 27 October 2022.

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Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.