08 June 2017

Young Bobby in Chess Life

My previous post, Young Bobby's First 'On the Cover', was about the January 1956 issue of Chess Review. When was Fischer first featured on the cover of Chess Life (CL)? In the early years of its existence, CL was published as a small newspaper twice a month, with eight pages per issue. There were few photos other than the likenesses of columnists or imagery on ads. The first half of 1956 used only a half-dozen photos, none showing Fischer. CL's first four photos of young Bobby are shown below.

Top left: CL 1956-07-20

'U.S. JUNIOR CHAMPION! Bobby Fischer (right) of Brooklyn in the process of defeating veteran Samuel Sklaroff of Philadelphia at the U.S. Amateur Championship in Asbury Park. Bobby is only 13 years old but shows strong indications of becoming a master.' • What does the U.S. Amateur Championship (May 1956) have to do with the U.S. Junior Championship (July 1956)? Fischer's victory in the U.S. Junior was announced on the same page as the photo, which was undoubtedly the most recent photo available.

Top right: CL 1956-08-20

'U.S. Junior Champion Bobby Fischer of Brooklyn, 13, poses for the cameraman of "The Oklahoman" before the start of the U.S. Open. Bobby stole the show at Oklahoma City, appeared twice on television, played like a master, finished in 8th place on tie-breaking points, scored 8.5-3.5 without losing a single game.'

Bottom left: CL 1956-12-05

'STUDY IN TENSION. Bobby Fischer fidgets, bites his nails and squirms in general when in trouble. Here, in the last round, facing acute time pressure (See the clock -- 12 is the deadline) and a very critical position, he falls into a characteristic pose. (Photography and comments by Dr. Harold Sussman)' • Sussman also wrote the full page report on the tournament, the 3rd Rosenwald, New York, October 1956. This was the tournament where Fischer beat Donald Byrne in the 'Game of the Century' and finished +2-4=5. The left half of the photo, cropped at Fischer's elbow, was reused in later issues of Chess Life.

Bottom right: CL 1957-09-05

'At the U.S. Open Championship -- Photography by Marshall Rohland. [...] Champion-to-be Bobby Fischer gets set to play Edmar Mednis in the eighth round.' • Fischer won the game. His final score was +8-0=4 at the event held in Cleveland, August 1957.

The tournament report started, 'At 14 years, Bobby Fischer, Erasmus High student of Brooklyn, becomes the youngest master to win the U.S. Open title, as in 1956 he was the youngest player to win the U.S. Junior title. Fischer scored 10-2 in a games-won tie with U.S. Champion Arthur Bisguier but gained the title on adjusted tie-breaking points, with Bisguier placing second.'

Chess Life shifted to magazine format in January 1961, with Fischer biographer Frank Brady as editor. The first cover featured a photo of Fischer playing Reshevsky in the 1960-61 U.S. Championship.

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