Thursday, March 24, 2005

Losing Bobby Fischer

The news story on Yahoo! reads as follows:
By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press Writer
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Chess legend Bobby Fischer walked free from a Japanese detention center Thursday and flew to Copenhagen en route to his new home in exile — Iceland — following Tokyo's nine-month fight to deport him to the United States.

The whole article can be read here:
Bobby Fischer

I won't go into detail about Bobby's current state of mind.
I don't doubt, however, that his state of mind is a result of one tumultuous life. The poor guy (yes, poor guy) grew up basically alone with nothing but chess as his friend. As a friend, chess wasn't a very good one. It ate at him, jeered him, demanded all his time and energy. He'd sleep thinking chess, he'd spend days analyzing one string of moves from the Sicilian Poisoned Pawn or Najdorf.
Yet, like a codependent boyfriend, Bobby needed chess to need him. The country wanted him to succeed, not because of him, but because he was not Soviet. He had to win, to show chess that it wasn't greater than he. And when he finally did beat Spassky, when he became the highest rated player of all time (eclipsed by Kasparov later), when he took everything that chess, the United States, the Soviet Union, and the world could hurl at him across a board, he started to break down. His purpose had been fulfilled, and he became lost. He spoke of building rook-shaped castles to live in, his anti-semitism began flowing more freely, and he lost his touch with everything around him. He refused to defend his title not because he feared losing, I doubt he thought anyone but himself could beat himself, but rather because he felt the Soviet-controlled FIDE was too demanding on the rules for the defense, a claim that may or may not have merit.

He's currently wanted in the U.S. for violating a law forbidding transit to Yugoslavia, where he went in 1992 to play against his old rival Spassky. He's painfully anti-semitic, ironic considering his mother was Jewish. He's made inflammatory statements against the US, Japan, Chess, the President, whomever you can think of. Yet, I don't harbor anger towards him. I disagree with his opinions regarding the United States and Jews. I think he erred in disobeying an order to not go to Yugoslavia; he committed a crime.
Instead, I choose to remember what he gave us when he was still somewhat stable. I will remember with awe the beauty of his chess, and aspire to understand anything in this world as well as he understood a chessboard. I hold his chess in awe; it was artistic to see his command of the board, his knowledge of position.

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