Friday, January 18, 2008

Remembering Bobby

Today I learned of the death of Bobby Fischer, arguably the greatest chess player who ever lived. When I was in my teens, in the 1970s, Fischer was a hero of mine. This young man, who took the world by storm when he earned the title of International Grandmaster in 1958, at the age of 15, was the first Western player to seriously challenge the hegemony of the Soviet (now Russian) Chess machine has dominated the game since World War II. His victory over Boris Spaasky in their 1972 World Championship match made him a hero in the eyes of many Americans, and was seen by many as an American victory over its Cold-War opponent.

Later, Fischer seemed to go astray. He never defended his world championship. His paranoia about the Soviet chess machine became an obsession, and that obsession spread to distrust of the world chess federation and eventually the US chess federation and even the American government. He left the US, played a match against Spaasky in Yugoslavia in violation of a US embargo against the Milosevic regime, and seemed to burn his bridges to America with anti-American comments. He lived in Japan for several years, and occasionally would call into a Phillipine's radio program in which he would make outrageous anti-American and anti-Semitic comments. After his US Passport was revoked, he was jailed in Japan until Iceland granted him citizenship.

A sad ending for such a brilliant young man.

Chess fans didn't even realize he was sick before they learned of his death.


Blogger tysdaddy said...

I remember first learning about Bobby Fischer in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer". Sad to see him go . . .

10:07 PM  

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