Did Bobby Fischer actually write his bestseller primer “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” (1966, 978-0553130539), or was it written by a ghost writer?

I often ask myself this question because it seems very unlikely (to me, at least) that Bobby could keep interest in writing a book in which half of the book is about one or two-move mates, in other words, very simple tactics, and the other half doesn't go much deeper than that.

Cover of “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.”

  • 6
    Somewhere in my readings I stumbled over an account of someone at a major tourney, who found Michail Tal watching TV in a corner. The program he was watching was a program for very early chess beginners. He author expressed his surprise, and noted Tals answer -- he said something about rediscovering chess with fresh eyes or something like that. Education is very different from professional interest -- I don't know just what Fisher did in the first area, but I would not hold it for entirely impossible that he might have had thoughts about it.
    – user18412
    Oct 12, 2019 at 10:48
  • 1
    Ok but Tal didn’t ever write such a basic book as the one Fischer (or better, his co-authors) wrote. Don’t get me wrong, I like the book, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to me “Fischer stuff”, having read his other book. Oct 13, 2019 at 6:30

3 Answers 3


Basically, no.

It was co-authored by Stuart Margulies and Don Mosenfelder, and while Fischer may have contributed a little, it is generally accepted that he just lent his name to the project.

Soltis, Andrew (2003). Bobby Fischer Rediscovered. B.T. Batsford Ltd. p. 10. ISBN 0-7134-8846-8.

  • 6
    That was my impression, too. Oct 12, 2019 at 10:44
  • 2
    Can we get some citations for this answer? Otherwise it comes across as pure speculation.
    – Pharap
    Oct 13, 2019 at 9:49
  • 5
    There is a whole WIkipedia article on this, and it cites GM Andy Soltis, in particular: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Fischer_Teaches_Chess. At this point in history, you are not going to get a definitive answer. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:53
  • 3
    @PhishMaster As long as that Wikipedia answer doesn't link to this question as a citation for their content ;) Obligatory xkcd.
    – Davy M
    Oct 13, 2019 at 21:05
  • 2
    No worries, he probably realized that trolling is the best he can do on the Internet. :) Mar 2, 2020 at 19:38

There isn't any way to give a definitive answer but I do believe he contributed to it. The thoroughness that covers such a basic concept lets you know that the author is very strong player. If you were that thorough in every aspect of your game you would probably be challenging for the world championship. That, in and of itself, is a lesson.

People say the book is simple but I guarantee most sub 2000 players will miss those tactics in 99% of their games.


Yes and no. I knew Fischer. I doubt that he was cabable of writing a book like that. What likely happened is that Two good , not great, players, who could write well, worked with Bobby and his ideas to create the book.

Now the real question is why. Was it because Bobby was hurting for money? Or did some friends impose on him to use his name to help them make some money? Otherwise I see no reason for it.

  • He probably needed money. I read that in the 1960s he sold all his chess books at least twice to book dealers. I think that’s because he needed some money. Dec 26, 2019 at 20:12
  • Could be. Or maybe he learned everything in them and wanted to buy newer books while not storing/lugging around the old ones.
    – yobamamama
    Dec 26, 2019 at 21:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.