October 11, 2009 21:26

Unknown Fischer photos posted on YouTube

Fischer in 1973In the week that YouTube let the world know about their new milestone of 1 billion views per day, we discovered several videos posted on the site which are of considerable historical value to the chess world. The videos contain unknown photos of Bobby Fischer visiting Japan and the Philippines in 1967 and 1973.

Fischer defeated Spassky in their Match of the Century in Reykjavik in 1972, but then the American didn't play an official game for twenty years. After unsuccessful negotiations with Karpov and FIDE he lost his title by default in 1975, and soon completely disappeared from the chess world, until the famous 1992 rematch against Spassky in Sveti Stefan. In 1973 the 11th World Champion paid a visit to Japan and the Philippines and as we read on both the Spanish and German versions of Chessbase, photos from Fischer's travels to Asia have appeared on YouTube.

As it turns out the user nirocal posted these videos already in June of this year. Besides, there are two more videos, one about Fischer visiting the Philippines already in 1967 and one in which the America legend meets a number of Heads of State in a South-American country (we assume it's in the province of Entre Rios in Argentina).

At the start of the first video it is suggested that the photos are part of Fischer's belongings which were stored in Pasadena for decades, before they were eventually auctioned on June 10, 2009 and purchased by Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield. Therefore it is well possible that the Sinquefields didn't obtain the full contents of the Pasadena container, and that more photos and / or other Fischer material will show up.

Below the four YouTube videos are embedded, including the information given by the uploader.

Bobby Fischer visit to the Philippines in 1967 for "Beat Bobby Fischer" chess matches

"Photos of Bobby Fischer's first visit to the Philippines in 1967. This album was a gift from the sponsor of the tournament (Meralco) to Bobby Fischer, and was part of his estate that he left behind in Pasadena when he left the country. His only official visit to another country after becoming world champion in 1972 was the Philippines in 1973, and that was because of this 1967 prior visit where he was treated like a world champion even before he became one. This is according to an article titled "A Month in Manila with Bobby Fischer" by Casto Abundo."


Bobby Fischer Meeting with South American? Heads of State


Bobby Fischer's Visit to the Philippines 1973 with President Ferdinand Marcos

"Photos of Bobby Fischer's visit to the Philippines in 1973, hosted by President Ferdinand Marcos, to open the International Chess Tournament. These came from albums that were a personal gift from Marcos himself to Fischer to commemorate his trip. Fischer abandoned a storage unit in Pasadena when he fled the United States, and these albums were part of his belongings left behind. Many of his chess memorabilia were in that storage and ended up in a local flea market in LA."


Bobby Fischer's Visit to the Philippines, Tokyo, Hong Kong 1973

"These are the last of the photos I have of Bobby Fischer. He opened the first Philippines International Chess Tournament in Manila in October 1973. There are pictures of him visiting Corregidor and the provinces. He then went to Tokyo and Hong Kong.The last picture is of Bobby in Pasadena dated 4/19/1974, taken by Svetozar "Gliga" Gligoric, Yugoslav Grandmaster, a longtime friend of Bobby's."



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Poek's picture

Jan, you do know that Marcos was a dictator?

nick burrows's picture

Nice to see him relaxed being a normal human being!

Call Zorbin's picture

Made my cry. This is the Bobby we want to remember!.
Thanks for posting,

Jan's picture

Great stuff. Great guy at that time. What a pity we also had to live with the Fischer of 1970 onwards...

Jan's picture

Never had any affection with Fischer, This has changed now. I didnt know he could be like this!

Floyd Boudreaux jr's picture

Great, heartwarming pictures of the Bobby Fischer we would all like to remember. The pictures of the young anglo (American?) lady with Fischer in the Phillipines are not of his sister, Joan (Fischer) Targ. She was several years older than Bobby. Perhaps, she was the daughter of the Ambassador to the Phillipines.

Castro's picture

Because of his sometimes childish or hallucinated behaviour, most people doesn't know, but besides being the absolute best chess player ever, he was also a VERY nice person (most of the time, eheheh).

LajosArpad's picture

I agree with Daaim Shabazz. Bobby's way of seeing the world is not necessarily a madness, I don't know why are people tending to judge him by his anti-semitism. He had seen the world in his way, it was his right to do so. We can agree or disagree with his political point of view, but we all should agree that he was a genious and IS an inspiration to all of us, chess players. Anti-semitism not equals madness, for example Radjabov doesn't like Armenians, but we don't consider him mad because of this. Personally I don't agree with any of the collective hatred, but I also don't see the connection between Fischer and the "Holocaust" in Poland.

Castro's picture

Madness... mental illness... More than the average guy? More than humankind itself? I don't see definitive proofs of that in Fisher's case. Maybe we're up to some surprising revelations about that kind of stereotyped concepts. I'd fear some (world or chess) big figures much more than Bobby, that's for sure.

And @rdecredico

Yes, fun by revisionism, specialy if one's being fooled for decades!

Jan's picture

In 1975 Fischer was probablz already crazy, considering his excessive demands for the match with Karpov. Or maybe he didnt want to play, I don't know. Even in 1972 Spasski had to suffer heavily to be able to play Fischer. It cost him the match. Maybe Bobby was indeeed schizofrenic, there was the gentle man we see in the pictures, and the Mr Hide that came to the fore in important events.

Jessica Fischer's picture

Rest in peace Bobby I will always love you.

rdecredico's picture

Revisionism is always fun, isn't it?

rdecredico's picture

Setting it to music is a highly manipulative effort to pull at heartstrings and create a euphoric feeling about the subject matter.

I'd prefer to see photographs without being told how I am to feel about them.

Samthecat's picture

A happy Fischer prior to his split with the Worldwide Church of God, after that he was never the same.

Castro's picture


"a highly manipulative effort" (to which --- of course! ---- you are imune) is an overstatement, don't you think?
I just say we are daily fed with much MUCH worse, only to mention in chess!


Maybe happy before "seing the light" of how some things realy are?

Daaim Shabazz's picture

This is also the Fischer before people starting stabbing him in his back. He became very, very bitter as a result. Of course he lived a full life, but the extraordinary change in his attitude (however one sees it) coincided with the extraordinary circumstances he had to endure.

nanna's picture

rdecredico go to chessbase

k's picture

RDECREDICO Thank you for that fine critical sense. I agree, people should be able to make judgements of their own without music dictating them how to feel. I got to visit death camps from the time of the Holochaust in poland, and in one of the places the guide put on music, which was obviously meant to make people sad and emotional. But it did not allow free thinking and properly "digesting" of what we saw. Many times, a person may experience an emotion much more vigorously when it's NOT introduced to him by force, but when he sees things bare and raw as they are.
If Anyone's interested, I warmly reccomend Tolstoy's "kreutzer Sonata", a wonderful novel in which this affect is magnificently depicted.

About bobby Fischer: I was especially interested in the pictures of him sweeming and doing such "normal" activities. Somehow sheds light on the person behind the familiar figure.

ed's picture

Fischer died last year but we actually lost him many, many years ago when he lost his battle against mental illness. Many mental illnesses such as schizophrenia set in after an important life event and for Fischer I always thought that event was his victory over Spassky in 1972. Judging by these pictures I am wrong as he looks truly happy in all pictures, one cannot detect a single trace of mental illness in here. Mental illness must have set in later, perhaps when Karpov was declared world champion in 1975. I am thankful for whoever put these pictures on at youtube, I don't think it is a violation of Fischer's privacy as some have argued. These pictures actually help to recover Fischer's humanity, a great chess artist whose career was prematurely interrupted by the kiss of madness from lady destiny. Are you happy Mrs Destiny?! Rest in peace Bobby, we will always admire you.

Noskcaj's picture

Bobby wasn't schizophrenic, since he continued to play very good chess according to reports of personal friends. Schizophrenics have disordered thinking and would not be able to play logical chess. Bobby sounds as though he had excessive paranoia combined with narcissistic personality disorder. From his point of view everyone was out to get him. Too bad for chess, since we lost out on at least 10 to 15 years of great chess games. It would have been fantastic to see him play US chess players like Benjamin, Serawan, Christiansen, not to mention Karpov and Kasparov, but....not to be.

Rini Luyks's picture

The photos in South-America could be from the period after Fischer'e match against Petrosian in Buenos Aires 1971 (post stamp "Entre Rios" could be in Argentina).
But the politician shaking hands doesn´t look like Alejandro Lanusse, the Argentine president at that time. Who knows?

ed's picture

Fischer had his dental fillings removed because he was afraid somebody would install an electronic device in his teeth to influence his thinking. Give me a break do you guys really believe he did not suffer some sort of mental illness?! I am no psychiatrist but it does not take a genius to notice he suffered from some sort of paranoia, which run totally out of control sometime after he won the 1972 world championship match from Spassky. I had a girlfriend who used to work in a mental institution and she used to tell me the sad stories of some of the patients (and their families). People with extreme paranoia can trick you into thinking their stories make sense when in fact such stories are just a figment of their imagination. Some of the patients looked quite "normal" until you realized the lights were on but nobody was there. As someone once said Fischer never hurt a fly and his rants were just the expression of a sick mind, which the media explored with gusto. Some people simply don't get the fact he became mentally ill post 1972 and would rather believe he was some sort of bad guy with strange opinions. The cold kiss of madness took him away from us too early; the Bobby Fischer that the media depicted to the world for the last 30 years is not the same one who defeated the Soviet machine single handedly in 1972. These moving pictures posted at youtube offer a glimpse of Fischer pre mental illness and I am grateful for that.

Jonathan Berry's picture

Rini Luyks - You beat me to the punch. Entre Rios is a province of Argentina, North of Buenos Aires. Heads of state? Well, of course, men like to look important.

Daaim Shabazz's picture


I know people who get all mercury-laced dental fillings removed for a number of reasons. Does that make one crazy?

Are you saying that you know mental illness because your girlfriend said she worked with mentally ill patients? Get real. If he was indeed mentally-ill, then why did people say such horrible things about a mentally-ill person immediately after his death? That would have been cruel. However, I don't believe people felt he was mentally-ill.

Fischer was perfectly sane and knew exactly what he was saying. THAT is what angered people so much.

Jim Gagliastro's picture

Thanks for the great photos. My wife is from the Philippines and, although she knows very little about Bobby Fischer,she enjoyed them from a nostalgic perspective. I looked upon them as a time before Marcos became the oppressive corrupt dictator he was to become and before Fischer lapsed into total mental illness.

youtube proxy's picture

I don’t think it is a violation of Fischer’s privacy as some have argued. These are the pictures that actually help to recover Fischer’s humanity, he was a great chess artist whose career was prematurely interrupted.

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