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I-Reporters remember passionate, controversial Bobby Fischer

Story Highlights

* I-Reporter Susan Polgar played chess, became friends with Fischer in 1992
* Polgar, a world-class chess player, says the chess world hoped for Fischer’s return
* Vietnam vet says Fischer inspired his love of chess, helped him recover from war

(CNN) — On Friday, January 18, 2008, chess master Bobby Fischer died at age 64, the same number, CNN.com reader Susan Polgar points out, as the number of squares on a chessboard.

No cause of death was given for Fischer, the eccentric genius who was renowned for his Cold War defeat of Russian chess champ Boris Spassky in 1972; his two-decade retreat from chess; and his trip to Yugoslavia in 1992, in defiance of U.S. sanctions, for a rematch with Spassky. After Fischer beat Spassky again, winning $3.5 million, he vanished from the scene once more. He spent his later life denouncing the U.S. and moved to Iceland, where he died.

CNN.com asked readers to share their memories of Fischer and his sometimes triumphant, often turbulent life. Below are a collection of their responses, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

Frank Taylor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Bobby Fischer was simply the best! His aura was the main reason I took up chess, and the more I understood about chess, the more I came to appreciate his sheer genius. Like many others, I did have a problem with his anti-America, anti-Semitic outbursts and views, but his chess playing was pure magic. I’d always hoped and dreamed he would make a final appearance and play Garry Kasparov. What a match that would have been. What a loss of talent.

Gregory Campbell of Lewisville, Texas When I returned home from Vietnam, the game between Bobby Fischer and Spassky had just started. I did not play the game that well, but watching Bobby play was a welcome home for me. He inspired me to learn more about the game, and in so doing, I was able to recover from the war. I will always remember that game and what Bobby has done for me through the game of chess.

Susan Polgar of Lubbock, Texas In spite of his obvious flaws, he will be remembered as “The King of Chess,” a genius on the board and the man who broke through the Iron Curtain. I mostly admired him as a chess player and what he did for chess. He put chess on the map in the U.S. and changed the economic opportunities for chess players. If it weren’t for him, demanding reparation and prizes in the ’60s and ’70s, players wouldn’t be making the money they are today.

He was fanatic about chess; he was working on chess most of his life, even years and years after he retired. His dedication, passion and love for the game, it was his life. It was his profession. It was how he expressed himself. It’s symbolic that he died at age 64, for the 64 squares of the chessboard.

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