New York City grandmaster Robert “Bobby” Fischer (1943-2008) defeated champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in the 1972 World Chess Championship. In July 1972, Spassky was credited with saying “Chess is like life” and Fischer was credited with saying “Chess is life.” In June 1972, Fischer said, “Chess is my life—my hobby, my recreation, my profession.”
“Chess is like life” has been cited in print since at least 1929 and “chess is life” since at least 1964, but neither saying had been frequently used. Fischer’s “chess is life” remark is remembered in the context of his 1972 victory and his complete dedication to the game of chess.
Wikipedia: Bobby Fischer
Robert James “Bobby” Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was an American chess Grandmaster and the 11th World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. Fischer was also a best-selling chess author. After ending his competitive career, he proposed a new variant of chess and a modified chess timing system. His idea of adding a time increment after each move is now standard, and his variant Chess960 is gaining in popularity.
Portraits and Reflections
By Stuart Hodgson
New York, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co.
But for some chess-players words clothed in fine raiment, so to speak, seem to have a natural attraction. Dr. Lasker, the old world champion, is rather fond of trying to prove that chess is like life.
14 October 1964, The Brazosport Facts (Freeport, TX), pg. 4, col. 7:
BOOKS IN REVIEW
Chess is life
(Review of ‘The Defense” by Vladimir Nabokov—ed.)
The British Chess Magazine
To Aloni (the “o” in his name being pronounced as in “on") chess is life; and life is chess.
28 June 1972, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “Battle for world title looms as chess greats prepare to meet” by Ted Thackrey Jr. (Los Angeles Times News Service), pg. 1, col. 4:
“I want the money,” Fischer said recently in an interview at the New York resort where he was undergoing rigorous training. “But I want the title even more. Chess is my life—my hobby, my recreation, my profession. I have proved that I am the best in the past...but now I want that fact officially recognized.”
30 July 1972, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 1, col. 3:
Fancy of World
As Macy’s department stor in New York reports quintupling of chess set sales, psychologists stew about the motivations of Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, and grandmasters try to decide who is the best.
“Chess is like life,” says the Russian champion, Spassky.
“Chess is life,” says Fischer, the American challenger.
The Battle of the Brains
Monday, July 31, 1972
Spassky says, “Chess is like life”; Fischer says, “Chess is life.”
Google News Archive
4 August 1972, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “Doctors Check Into Psychology of Chess, Masters” by William J. Cromie, pg. 17, col. 3:
Spassky says coolly, “Chess is like life.” Fischer proclaims passionately, “Chess is life.”
Google News Archive
11 August 1972, Florence Times—Tri-Cities Daily (Florence, AL), “Fischer Always Moves Toward Goal” by Milan Momic, pg. 2, col. 3:
Spassky has said that chess is like life and Fischer has said that chess is life.
Google News Archive
14 August 1972, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, pg. 2B, col. 7:
Spassky: Chess Life Life’
Chess IS Life—Fischer
“Chess is like life,” Boris Spassky, the Russian chess champion is reported to have said. His opponent for the title of World Champion, Bobby Fischer of the United States, countered, “Chess IS life.”
The Jewish Daily Forward
Remembering Bobby Fischer
By Sofia Polgar
Published February 13, 2008, issue of February 15, 2008.
Unquestionably the most famous chess player in the history of the royal game, Bobby Fischer died last month at the age of 64 — the exact number of squares on the chessboard. His lively games will be remembered for as long as the game is played.
“Chess is life,” Fischer used to say. But, alas, after he became world champion, his life and his chess diverged. And while his games were beautiful, his life away from the chessboard was often ugly. The chess genius harbored a delusional side whose antisemitic and anti-American rants brought shame on not only the speaker but also the game.