Friday, March 25, 2005

Just noted in passing

Bobby Fischer, quite probably the best chess player who ever lived, arrived in Iceland on Friday, freed from nine months in captivity in Japan while he fought extradition to the US. He was wanted for the heinous crime of playing in an exhibition chess match against Boris Spassky in 1992 in the former Yugoslavia in violation of US sanctions on that country.

He was released after accepting Iceland's offer of citizenship.

Media accounts made much of his history of anti-Semitism and his diatribes against the US, which he called, among other things, part of the "allies of evil" together with Australia, the UK, and Japan - in deliberate contrast to Bush's "axis of evil." But Bobby has long been troubled by what seems to this admittedly untrained observer clear signs of clinical paranoia. As long ago as 1959, in fact: After a (to him) disappointing finish in the middle of the pack at the Candidates Tournament, he wrote a blistering "expose" in Sports Illustrated charging "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess!" His later involvement in the Worldwide Church of God just marked a further step along that tragic path.

I hope now he can find some peace or at least stability.

This is a pretty good article about him.

Footnote: R. Byrne-Fischer, 1963 is my favorite Fischer game. Byrne said afterward that the subtlety of Fischer's attack was go great that "at the very moment I resigned," grandmasters in the next room commenting on the match "thought I had a won game." (In the final position, the threat is 22...Q-h3+, 22 K-g1 [22 K-f2, Q-g2++], Bxd4+, etc. And if none of that makes sense to you, don't worry about it.)

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