In 1972, the year of the Fischer-Spassky Match, parents became eager to have their children take chess lessons.
The parental enthusiasm spawned an unanticipated phenomenon. Easily beating most of the adults they played, many children were hailed as chess geniuses in embryo.
The kids had quickly learned a few basic ideas and put them to use. Because the older generation usually knew nothing about chess strategy, it was child abuse in reverse.
For most Americans, chess had an aura of difficulty. Therefore, all the more impressive was the ease in which children had acquired their newfound competence.
The truth is that it is easy to quickly learn the rudiments of chess strategy and tactics.
Emanuel Lasker, philosopher, mathematician and World Chess Champion for 27 years (1894-1921), argued that any intelligent person could become a chess master with 200 hours of focused study.
Decades later, Fischer would say basically the same.
In rapid chess, an average player – even if far from the grandmaster level – is capable of winning an occasional game from a much stronger one.
Recently, the current world champion Magnus Carlsen confessed that his fans would be surprised at the level of players he had lost to when playing speed chess on the Internet.