Friday, January 18, 2008

Robert James Fischer-The King Is Dead (1943-2008)

I heard it a couple of minutes ago. Bobby Fischer died in a hospital of Reykjavik, Iceland, the very place where he became the king of chess players beating Spassky in the final match. This leaves a bitter taste to all chess fans, and more to Fischer fans like myself.

Child of divorced parents, he lived with his mom and older sister, which introduced Bobby to the game. He quickly left school and decided to be a professional chess player. At the age of 13 he played the 'Game of the Century' against D.Byrne, still considered as a masterpiece among chess enthusiasts (you don't see queen sacrifices very often)This was just the beginning and among other things Fischer became the holder of many best performance records in tournaments and matches escalating to being the World Chess Champion in 1972, at the heart of of Cold War, outperforming all Soviet chess stars. He was notorious for his passion to play each game to win.

Bobby Fischer disappeared soon after FIDE denied to accept his suggestions for changing World Chess Championship rules and refused to defend his title against Anatoly Karpov. This has been a mystery around the chess world until 1992 when Fischer re-appeared to the public and played against Spassky in Serbia (Former Yugoslavia). This had political interest since Serbia was under embargo from the US at the time. After that Fischer had to find a political asylum which he finally found in Iceland.

Bobby Fischer had early established the habit of dressing well and it is rumored he had a massive collection of shoes. Fischer himself describes that one comment after a chess tournament ('He may play well but he dresses like a homeless') is what triggered his behavior. All this have led many to call him 'arrogant' and 'self-centric'. At the last years of his life he has been accused of being racist and anti-semitic, things that he triggered himself after expressing strong anti-semitic opinions over the 9/11 incident on the radio.

One could write for days about Fischer's bad behavior but all this have little significance now. This has been a small tribute to Bobby Fischer who died today. His ingenuity has inspired a whole generation of chess players and his plays are of unmatchable beauty. In my eyes, he is the best chess player of all times. and beyond chess mastery one can discover lessons of life in his strategies: The first that comes to my mind: "No draws. Win or lose."


Tovi said...

Great work.

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