Monday, 21 January 2008

Bobby Fischer

As a chess enthusiast, Didactophobe cannot allow the funeral of Bobby Fischer to pass without comment.

Fischer was before my time. Of course. When I were a lad, Anatoly Karpov was world champion and one of my earliest memories was of him defeating Victor Korchnoi. However, one was always aware of Fischer as the king over the water, so to speak. Whilst the bland, loyal Communist Karpov went through the motions, everyone knew that a far superior player was lurking in the background. Then along came Gary Kasparov, and Russia had finally produced its own charismatic champion.

Fischer was a Jewish American chess grand master who hated Jews, America and chess grand masters. Armed with that knowledge, it is not hard to make the connection that what really destroyed him was self-loathing. The man hated everything that he himself was. Hated it with a passion. His relationship with his mother was said to be the root of it all. Very Freudian.

So, who was the greatest, Fischer or Kasparov? It is hard to say. It is a bit like comparing George Best to Pelé. In terms of natural ability, it is virtually impossible to separate them. In terms of their longevity as top players and their actual achievements, it is all too easy to separate them. However, in each case, the man who may be said to have ruined his career and his life was very arguably the more exciting player. The one who would have supporters most gasping at his genius.

Fischer was very troubled in this life. I pray for his soul as he enters the next one.