Mistah Fischer - He Dead

Because there's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. The good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point. Apocalypse Now

At his peak(?), 1971.

American chess genius Bobby Fischer ("tortured", "reclusive", "eccentric", "idiosyncratic", 'the pride and sorrow of chess") died in Reykjavik Iceland on Thursday.

On the Weird Guy scale of 1-10, they definitely turned the knobs up to 11 for Mr Fischer. IQ said to be 181. Twisted by something that went wrong with his preception of the rational and the irrational. Definetely the irrational won out. And he was probably a real prick in person, I would imagine.

The war on the chessboard fused into some obscure battle with reality and his obsession with Russian and Jewish (his parents were Jewish - even his newly discovered unknown father) conspiracies and his holocaust denial made it fairly impossible to deal with him rationally. He had his tooth filllings removed as he thought they were sending and receiving signals - a pathognomic sign of paranoid delusion in my book.

The 1972 match with Spassky was more than a chess match. It was, he said " the free world against the lying cheating hypocrtiical Russians... it is a microcosm of the world situation."

In actual fact, it was just his move.

And his mind moved out.

Image of Bobby Fischer Goes to War

Lots of details in the 2004 book by Edmonds and Eidinow "Bobby Fischer Goes to War" (click above) seem to indicate that, like most conspiracy theories, Fischers' obsession with the Russian's supposedly bugging him (he had the chairs x-rayed) had a healthy amount of truth in it. It's just that eventually it became unworkably unhealthy.

Fischer's life's endgame wasn't so brilliant, eh?

However, if it's about chess itself he was fantastic. As a 13 year-old, still sane, he whipped American master Donald Byrne in a freaking amazing match. You can replay it here - the display needs Java to work (so that excludes Opera users!)

After he went wonky up top and most chess-players moved to the other end of the bus, the world lost the chance to see any more examples of his flawless strategic (the queen sacrifice!!) power.

Addendum: "If he wasn't a chess player, he might have been a dangerous psychopath." Arthur Bisguier: quoted in BFGTW, p12.


Other great books about chess-players losing it - Nabokov's The Defense, Beckett's Murphy.



Posted by: expat@large on Jan 19, 08 | 6:29 pm | Profile


I'm for giving the guy a break. I know how hard it is to be a genius.

Posted by: Dick on Jan 20, 08 | 12:29 am

And the fun in that is, where?
Re: genius, yes, you had a heart to heart with E@L once that's true, which no doubt gave you a glimpse of what is must like...

Posted by: expat@large on Jan 20, 08 | 12:41 am


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