I was a nine-year-old boy making the first steps in his chess career, back in peaceful Baku.
I knew of course that Spassky, the reigning World Champion, was a very strong player, but I had the idea that Fischer, my chess idol then, was a player of another calibre, someone in a class of his own.
The chess scene has changed a lot since then, and I, too, have made some progress in those twenty years...
When I compare my own career with that of Fischer, I have to admit that I enjoyed a certain advantage over him. He had no-one besides himself to draw him up to the heights he reached, whereas I have been privileged in having a high-class player like Karpov, who forced me to exert myself and advance ever higher.
If one may judge a player's strength by comparing him with his contemporaries, it seems to me that Fischer's achievement is unsurpassed - the gap between him and his closest rivals was the widest there ever was between a World Champion and the other top-ranking players of his time. He was some 10-15 years ahead of his time in his preparation and understanding. This could be attributed in part to his dedication to the game, which was unequalled by any other player before or since.
I regard him as a mythological combination of sorts, a centaur if you will, a synthesis between man and chess.
It isn't this or that game of his which impresses me, though he played many remarkable games. It is his out and out professional attitude to the game and his fighting qualities that appeal to me so much.
Fischer was the first real professional player to emerge on the chess stage, and as far as this is concerned, I hope to be considered his follower. Studying Fischer's games is important, I think, for any player of any playing strength. Above all, it will give you a good idea how to approach the game, or, to put it another way. it will change your attitude to the game in a way that is bound to improve your own play.
Forward written for:
Bobby Fischer: His Approach to Chess
(C) Elie Agur, 1992