What Chess Owes Bobby Fischer
February 18th, 2011 at 7:45 pm
Peter Worthington

When Bobby Fischer died in Iceland in 2008, at age 64, it ended one of the most bizarre lives of our times; one that really has no parallels.

What most people know of Bobby Fisher is that he was a chess genius (IQ 180). That’s it. He was born in Brooklyn in 1943 to an erratic, nomadic Jewish mother and an uncertain father.

No one – not his friends nor fellow grandmasters – fully understood him. At the slightest provocation, real or imagined, he could end a friendship, never to talk to that person again.

More than a chess prodigy (he was U.S. chess champion at age 14), Bobby Fischer, in the opinion of many, was the greatest chess player who ever lived – in a class all of his own, without equal. Ever.

This fact alone made him special, and accounts for why grandmasters of all nationalities, and those who revere chess, were willing to endure his eccentricities, paranoia, weird anti-social behavior. And come back for more.

…A reason to pay attention to Bobby Fisher today is that his like has never before been seen, and likely never will again. While chess is not everyone’s forte, great chess players tend to be eccentric studies—Alekhine, Capablanca, Steinitz, up to the more recent Botvinnik, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov and Kasparov.

As a chess prodigy, Fischer more or less kept to himself in school, unaware that a classmate had a crush on him as “sexy – Barbra Streisand, whom he recalled as “this mousy little girl.”

That Fischer became world champion is one thing, how he did it another. Until Fischer, world champion tournaments included the top players in a round robin, each win worth one point, a draw ½ point. In event of a tie at the conclusion, the defending champion was declared the winner.

On his way to winning the world title in 1972 and cracking the Russians hold on international chess, Fischer first defeated Grandmaster Mark Taimanov 6-0, then crushed Denmark’s Bent Larsen 6-0, then beat Tigran Petrosian in the first game before succumbing briefly to stomach flu, and then finally beating Petrosian 6½ to 2½ .

Fischer put together 20 wins in a row against grandmasters—not one draw. This feat is the baseball equivalent of pitching a series of no-hitters.

Full article here.

Posted by Picasa
Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar