In 2001, Nigel Short went public with the opinion that he had in fact played Bobby Fischer on the Internet Chess Club.

This was denied by Fischer himself, and the consensus seems to be that it was not in fact Fischer that he was playing. However, though I have the impression of reading something about who Short was really playing some time ago, I cannot remember this for sure and now cannot find a conclusive source on who Short's opponent actually was. Has there ever been a definitive statement on this?

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    I know of no definitive source as to the true identity of "ICC Fischer," but the notion that it was someone operating an engine always struck me as plausible and probable. Here's a piece by Frederic Friedel from 2001 making a case for that: chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=11 (Note the link to several games of "ICC Fischer" at the bottom of that page, for those curious.)
    – ETD
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 1:06
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    I asked the ICC this and they basically told me to shut up.
    – xaisoft
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 14:53
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    ICC are the only ones who can answer this question.
    – user2001
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 17:50
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    Except that Nigel Short asked the player in conversation a question to test his knoweldge of obscure chess masters of the 60's. Short asked this player if he knew Armando Acevedo (an obscure Mexican player). The instantaneous response was "Siegen 1970." Fischer had played Acevedo at the Siegen Chess Olympiad in 1970. If a chess computer had been used Short reasoned the response would not have been instantaneous. This was sufficient to convince Short. So if we're going to speculate on this we should consider Short's own view. Also computers tend to stick to well known opening theories ..
    – user34445
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 20:16
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    Except that even though Acevedo isn't a very famous chess player, his game against Fischer in these olympiads is pretty famous as an example of spatial domination and middlegame zugzwang. If the program operator had some chess knowledge and wasn't too young, it's not hard to answer instantly. It can also go pretty quickly to copy paste that name in google and click on the first link (you can copy paste texts from ICC chat afaI remember).
    – Emphyrio
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 5:08

4 Answers 4


Nobody knows who he played, because nobody has come forward to take credit; however, some chess sleuths compared the moves against various engines and found that there was considerable evidence to support a particular engine (I believe it was called "blitz tiger") as the mysterious Fischer. Because of the incident where Short chatted with Fischer, there must have been a human behind the account as well (many accounts on the ICC are run entirely by computers without any human interaction at all). The ICC can probably do some user profiling to figure out who the player is either by comparing the location/IP/e-mail to another user or by doing some internet forensics based on information they gathered from the incident. However, it seems like they either don't care or if they did find out, they don't want to share (based on what xaisoft said) so it will probably always be a mystery. And, to be honest, it's a better story that way, and because all this is is a good story, that's a good thing.

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    I doubt ICC keeps server logs for the 10+ years that would be required to do this kind of analysis. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 17:38

If you can believe that Fischer would play as white: 1.f4 e5 2.f5 d5 3.g4 Qh4# White checkmated 0-1 Unlikely. More likely it was someone with a chess engine having some fun, likely someone who is very inexperienced as provided by the example. He would make very poor opening moves and let the chess engine take over beating many GM's.


Well, as of 2021 a much more concrete answer can be provided: https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/mv0vz5/solving_the_fischer_chess_games_in_2001_gm_nigel/

In short (pun not intended): 'Fischer' was actually Deep Fritz using its second choice moves. (Apparently, every move played by 'Fischer' after the first few turns corresponded to Deep Fritz's second choice.) Another engine with high correspondence was Gambit Tiger.


Fischer never, ever denied it. What he said was he doesn't play chess anymore, and when a reporter told him what Nigel said, he responded "He can say what he wants". Not playing anymore means currently; that game happened prior to that interview, so it wouldn't be a lie. The fact that he didn't outright say that Nigel was lying seems... A little Fischy to me.


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