Bobby Fischer

Birth Name: Robert James Fischer

Date of Birth: March 9, 1943

Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Date of Death: January 17, 2008

Place of Death: Reykjavík, Iceland

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Bobby Fischer was an American chess grandmaster. He was a chess prodigy, having won his first US Championship at fourteen; he holds the record for most US Championships won, eight, and for the only perfect score of the tournament’s history, 11-0. He was also World Chess Champion, from 1972 to 1975, when his opponent was named World Champion by a default technicality. Bobby wrote the book My 60 Memorable Games, patented a now-standard practice modified chess timing system, and invented chess variant Fischer random chess/Chess960. He lived outside public life for much of his lifetime, often outside the U.S.; also having been wanted by the U.S. government after playing a chess match that violated sanctions on Yugoslavia in 1992. In 2005, he was given Icelandic citizenship, and lived there until his death.

Bobby’s mother, Regina (Wender), was born in Zürich, Switzerland, to Polish Jewish parents. She was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., and was a teacher, registered nurse, and physician. She traveled to Germany to visit her brother in the 1930s, there meeting biophysicist Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, aka Gerardo Liebscher. Hans-Gerhardt was the son of Ernst Alfred Hans Oskar Fischer and Ida Helene Liebscher. He was German, of non-Jewish background. Bobby’s mother and Hans-Gerhardt had a daughter, educator Joan Targ, in 1937, in Moscow, and married in 1938. Bobby’s mother had later left for Paris, France, and then the U.S. in 1939. The couple divorced in 1945.

The identity of Bobby’s biological father is not entirely clear. It is possible that Hans-Gerhardt had never entered the United States, and even more likely that he was not in the U.S. at the time Bobby’s mother had conceived him. Bobby’s biological father is generally believed to have been Hungarian mathematician and physicist Paul Neményi. Paul was born in Rijeka, now Croatia, to a Jewish family.

Bobby’s mother moved him and his sister to Brooklyn, and then Manhattan, in the late 1940s.

During his life, Bobby was a prominent contributor to the Worldwide Church of God, a Christian denomination. He had a Catholic funeral. Bobby was noted for making anti-Jewish remarks; though as a teen he referred to his Jewish background, as an adult he often denied being of Jewish heritage in the first place.

Bobby’s likely paternal grandfather was Dezső Neményi/Neumann (the son of Siegmund Neumann/Nemenyi and Julianna Kohn). Dezső was born in Budapest, Hungary. Siegmund was the son of Salamon Samuel Neumann and Julia Berger. Julianna was born in Pécel, Hungary, the daughter of Rabbi Ábrahám Elye Moshe Kohn/Katz, who was born in Reisa, Poland, and of Sarah Rochel Rivka Leah “Rosalina” Rosenbaum, whose father was also a rabbi.

Bobby’s likely paternal grandmother was Olga Goldberger (the daughter of Sigmund/Zsigmond Goldberger and Bertha Klein). Olga was born in Budapest, Hungary. Sigmund was the son of Wilhelm Goldberger and Fanny Boskowitz.

Bobby’s maternal grandfather was named Jacob/Jack Wender (the son of Isaac Wender). Jacob was born in Łódź, Poland.

Bobby’s maternal grandmother was named Ethel/Nathalia Abramson. Ethel was born in Poland or Russia.

Sources: Genealogies of Bobby Fischer –

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