It was assumed that Fischer would at some point reach grandmaster but would he become better than his Evans, Robert and Donald Byrne or Bisguier? Or how would he stack up against his contemporaries: William Lombardy and Raymond Weinstein? Few people thought he would be that good.
1956 had seen his introduction to top level competition in the 3rd Lessing Rosenwald Invitational in New York. In that event Fischer lost four games; three of them badly. The following summer Fischer drew Bisguier, who had mauled him in the Rosenwald, and thereby nosed out Bisguier the defending U.S. Open and U.S. Invitational champion, for the U.S. Open title. Interestingly, Fischer won the next 13 games in a
row against Bisguier.
1957 was the 100th anniversary of the First American Congress, and like Paul Morphy, Fischer was to become the dominating champion.
Every year there had been doubts as to whether there would be a championship that year. Financial crises and poor organization were the causes.
The USCF only had 2000 members, so money was scarce.
Fortunately a small group of wealthy men, collectively known as the American Chess Foundation kept the three year championship cycle going.
They promised they would choose the best players for small, topflight events and finance them. As a result three strong Rosenwald invitational tournaments and three
Matches were held.
Reshevsky won two of the tournaments, finishing third in the other behind Evans and Bisguier, and defeating Lombardy, Bisguier and Donald Byrne in the matches. It was obvious from these events that Reshevsky was far superior to everyone else: He never lost more than one game in each event.
Somewhat reluctantly the USCF agreed to let the fourth Rosenwald be designated as the 10th U.S. championship. This was especially fortunate because the tournament also served as a FIDE zonal where the first two finishers would qualify.
Fischer had played a lot during 1956 and 1957 giving simultaneous exhibitions, and winning the 1957 U.S. Open and losing a two-game match to former world
champion Max Euwe but nobody expected him to do well in the Rosenwald.
Bisguier declared Reshevsky was favorite and almost everyone agreed with him. Evans was also considered a contender as were Lombardy and Robert Byrne. Unfortunately Byrne declined his invitation.
Fischer started out this championship with a crushing defeat of Arthur Feuerstein, a 22-year-old computer
programmer in the first round. Then he narrowly escape defeat against Herbert Seidman, then battled Reshevsky to a draw. Two points out of three was not a bad start, but then things changed.
He defeated Sidney Bernstein and Arthur Bisguier and was a half point behind Reshevsky with a score of 4-1. There followed a game that could have gone either way against Hans Berliner but ended in a draw.
But then came a whirlwind of victories: James T. Sherwin, George Kramer Edmar Mednis William Lombardy Attilio DiCamillo all went down in defeat.
During Fischer's streak Reshevsky had been defeated by Sherwin and so was trailing Fischer by a half point. To win the tournament Reshevsky needed a last-round win over William Lombardy, who was battling for third behind Sherwin.
Fischer had White Abe Turner. Turner was an old blitz partner of Fischer and nobody expected Fischer to put much effort into the game.
In the last round Fischer did what everyone expected he would and something would never do again in his career: he drew with Turner in 18 moves! After the game he went to the analysis room and played 5-minute games.
What his draw with Turner meant was that a Reshevsky win would mean a tie for first
place while any other result would give Fischer a clear first. Fortunately for Fischer Lombardy played such a great game against Reshevsky that he won the brilliancy prize and so Fischer was the champion.
At that time in his career, Fischer did not have the ego he was soon to develop. When asked, “Does this make you the best player in the United States?” Fischer replied, "No, one tournament doesn't mean much," he
said. "Maybe Reshevsky .... "
Final Standings: 1. Fischer 10.5
2. Reshevsky 9.5
3. Sherwin 9.0
4. Lombardy 7.5
5. Berliner 7.0
6-8. Denker 6.5
6-8. Feuerstein 6.5
6-8. Mednis 6.5
9. Seidman 6.0
10-11. Bernstein 5.0
10-11. Bisguier 5.0
12-13. DiCamillo 4.5
12-13. Turner 4.5
14. Kramer 3.0