High school student, Bobby Fischer wins U.S. chess championship in 1958

Bobby Fischer, two months shy of turning 15 years old, becomes the youngest U.S. chess champion in 1958.

Bobby Fischer, two months shy of turning 15 years old, becomes the youngest U.S. chess champion in 1958.

The 14-year-old Bobby Fischer became the youngest player to ever win the U.S. chess championship, setting him on the road to becoming a world champion.

Brooklyn has itself a new triple crown winner today. What Duke Snider and Roy Campanella are to baseball, 14-year-old Bobby Fischer is to the world of chess. Chess fans about the country are calling Bobby “player of the century” and “greatest chess prodigy of the age.”

At a tournament completed early yesterday, at the Manhattan Chess Club, the smooth-cheeked sophomore from Erasmus Hall HS won the United States Chess Championship with a score topping 13 of the very best players in the country.

With the junior championship won last July in San Francisco and the open championship garnered in August in Cleveland, Bobby today is undisputed king of the ancient sport, and probably the only player to have held all three titles at one time.

Although Bobby was not announced winner until well after midnight and he did not get back to his home at 560 Lincoln Place until 2 A.M., he attended school as usual yesterday, apparently unruffled by his unparalleled achievement.

Bobby’s next step is the world championship to held in Yugoslavia next September. Bobby and another member of the American team will make the trip if sufficient funds can be raised to cover their expenses.

Bobby was to have played in Russia last summer but financial support for the tour was pledged too late. The boy turned down a bid to compete against a group of the world’s chess masters at the Christmas tournament at Hastings, England, in favor of the Manhattan tourney.

The prodigy will be awarded the Frank J. Marshall championship trophy a week from Saturday at the Marshall Chess Club 23 W. 10 St. Manhattan. The cub contains the names of every national champion since 1937, when individual matches to decide the champ were discarded in favor of the tournament practice.

The strain of the Lessing J. Rosenwald Trophy tournament, as the masters championship is called, has been severe, according to Mrs. Fischer, and Bobby was anxious to forget chess and concentrate on his studies and on other interests – tennis, swimming, skiing and the like.

But chances are the lustre added by his latest win will bring in another spate of invitations for further exhibitions. Talk of a trip to Russia has begun again and the State Department is said to be trying to raise the money.

(Originally published by the Daily News on Jan. 9, 1958. This story was written by Douglas Sefton.)

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