Bobby Fischer had barely reached six years of age when he first started learning chess. It sparked his interest like nothing else. Fischer started devouring books on chess strategy and studying under the guidance of some of the top chess minds in the world. At the age of twelve he went with his chess club to Cuba, playing 12 simultaneous matches, winning ten and drawing two. His play caught both national and international attention, and Fischer began to be invited to world-class competitions.
On this day, January 8th, in 1958 the U.S. Chess championship concluded with Bobby Fischer as the clear points leader. Competing against the brightest chess masters in the United States, Fischer was widely expected to finish in the middle of the pack, but he did not lose a single match and finished in the standings a full point ahead of the man who won several of the previous ten times.
Although Fischer gained prominence in the chess circuit, he was still fairly unknown to the public. Several months after his championship he appeared on the TV game show “I’ve Got A Secret,” where a panel gathered to unsuccessfully figure out what Fischer’s secret was (that he is a U.S. Chess champion.) For his stumping of the panel, Fischer won a flight for two to Europe.