Bobby Fischer- The Man, The Mystery

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Other
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Having been a professional chess player in my childhood, I had always heard of Bobby Fischer. My teacher used to hail him as the greatest of all time. He loved Bobby’s offensive and creative playing style. At the time, I didn’t read too much into it. I was busy reading about  Alekhine as he was my favourite player. I liked Alekhine for strange reasons. First and foremost, he was a risk-taker. His combination play was absolutely fantastic. Alekhine’s repeated championships and his sudden and lonely death also increased his like-ability  in my eyes. In many ways, Fischer was the same. At the time, I remember asking my tutor: “If Fischer is so great and the greatest of all time, then why was he the world champions for only 3 years?” . He never gave me a clear answer.

I was 10 at the time. Back in the late 90s, internet wasn’t as popular for kids of my age as it is now. Years went on and I stopped playing chess professionally. It wasn’t until 2008 that I heard about Bobby again. Sadly, it was the news of his passing. I didn’t know much about his personal life, but once I saw an ad regarding a chess tournament in his memory, I didn’t hesitate. What better chance to get back into the game?! It ended up being my most productive day during my stay in Canada. I won the tournament  in 5 hours pocketing $400 in space of half a day. It’s some dream for a 17 year old, isn’t it?! I love you Bobby. That day in February of 2008 was the last I hash heard of Bobby until a few weeks ago. Packing to move south to Texas, I found the newspaper article reporting on my championship in Bobby Fischer Memorial tournament. I searched about the old man, and I came across things that I always suspected they exist. It was wonderful.

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The most popular documentary about Fischer’s life is called “Bobby Fischer Against the World”. I watched it three times in three consecutive nights. Their coverage of Fischer’s match of the century against Spassky is brilliant. A chess game, drawing attention from tens of millions of people. You don’t see it happening today, do you?? Which leaves you thinking why the stock of such a brilliant game has fallen in the eyes of public. Is it the fault of chess, or the new society ?! Fischer predicted fall of chess decades ago, but I believe he didn’t predict a tweet containing “hello” by Justin Bieber would generate millions of time more attention than World Chess Championship in 2013. This is the same game that decided the cold war back in the early 70s ! Something has definitely gone wrong.  In my experience, chess isn’t a game you can learn late on. You may be able to grasp the idea and moves, but you’ll never really understand chess if you don’t learn it early on in your life. That is one of the reasons its stock has fallen nowdays. Other activities and games have emerged and most kids find them more entertaining. A few years ago, I was working as a chess tutor for kids of under age of 10. In my first session, I immediately noticed that almost all the kids aren’t mentally there and have probably been forced by their parents to attend the classes. The myth of “Chess is boring, I’d rather watch paint dry” was in their heads. I simply had to change their mindset about the game. So I totally ditched what I was going to teach. I focused on explaining the game as a war. Something serious to generate excitement.

Chess isn’t just played on the board, it’s a psychological battle as well and so many people fail to understand it. I am sure Fischer would agree. He used a fair bit of psychological tactics in his triumph over Spassky in Reykjavik. It really is a must see documentary. In years to come, we’ll celebrate Bobby Fischer’s chess. It’s a shame that we couldn’t see more of his genius, but thanks to the Icelandic government, he at least spent the last few years of his life in peace and now rests peacefully at Laugardælir.


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