Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008


Chess master Bobby Fischer has died in Iceland, the country that adopted him in 2005 after he became a pariah in most of the western world. Reuters reaches Garry Kasparov for comment:

…Kasparov hailed Fischer as "the pioneer and the father of professional chess".

Kasparov said he had followed the 1972 clash of the U.S. and Soviet titans closely. "Fischer's chess was so fresh and so new and we all grew up under the strongest impression of Fischer's victories," he told Sky News television.

"From an ideological stance it was the fight of an individual against a totalitarian system. He had a lot of supporters even in the Soviet Union. No one viewed him as an American fighting Soviets, it was more a great man fighting the mighty machine," Kasparov said.

Fischer ended life, sadly, as a public freak, a deranged and bitter man overflowing with conspiracy theories, mostly about the Jews. Rene Chun's heartbreaking 2002 profile of Fischer included these ruminations about Kasparov.

Chess is nothing more than "mental masturbation." Not only is the game dead, it's fixed. Gary Kasparov, the world's top-rated player, is a "crook" and a former KGB spy who hasn't played a match in his life in which the outcome wasn't prearranged.

You can see a short documentary of Fischer's 1972 match against Boris Spassky here. Spassky's comment to Reuters is as short as anything I heard this week:

Asked by Reuters for his reaction, he replied: "It's bad luck for you. Bobby Fischer is dead," then hung up without further comment.