Shelby Lyman on Chess: A Non-Conformist
Sunday, November 2, 2014
(Published in print: Sunday, November 2, 2014)
Bobby Fischer, as we previously wrote, was an outlier tuned with steel consistency to an inner voice.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within.”
The example of Fischer more than a century later would have filled the Sage of Concord with delight.
To knee-jerk conformists, understandably, such men potentially are dangerous because they challenge the status quo that is so dear to conformists and from which they often comfortably benefit.
Admittedly, conformists have cause to be worried of the potential of non-conformity.
It is easy to think of a legion of examples. Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson are among the most unsavory to come to mind.
But non-conformists also can bestow benefits, even on those who scorn them.
In Fischer’s case, his chess was a beacon of light as he reinvented old ideas and discovered new ones.
Such people are rare. Few have the inclination or ability.
According to Garry Kasparov, Fischer was 10 to 15 years ahead of his time in both theory and practice.
His research, play and general approach to the game are central in defining modern chess.
Nakamura is 2 decades ahead of his time.