Friday, January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer is dead.


It's interesting how we attach symbolic significance to things above and beyond their reality. Regarding the Fischer/Spassky World Championship match, the article linked above says, accurately:

The event had tremendous symbolic importance, pitting the intensely individualistic young American against a product of the grim and soulless Soviet Union.

Which is EXACTLY how it was covered at the time. But what wasn't mentioned in the American Press at the time was that Boris Spassky, the "product of the grim and soulless Soviet Union" was (and is) a lovely, warm, kind and decent fellow who was liked or loved by just about everybody he ever met. Fischer - our "product of American individualism" - was rude, demanding, egotistical, impossible to get along with, and actually crazy. And he was pretty much hated - or at least very, very disliked - by just about everybody he ever met. And he appeared to be intent on making a total mockery out of that match with Spassky, inventing new and completely unreasonable demands daily. If you recall, for one game, he actually just didn't even bother to show up. Stayed locked in his hotel room with his phone pulled out of the wall while Spassky sat there for four hours and waited. The Soviets saw it as a clear-cut case of good vs. evil, and it had nothing to do with our respective economic systems.

Fischer, of course, got worse and worse with age, becoming a total recluse, and finally emerging from seclusion as ravingly anti-American and anti-Semitic, despite having a Jewish mother.

Mr. Spassky offered his condolences - something that I am certain Mr. Fischer would not have done if the shoe had been on the other foot.

He was an awesome genius as a chess player - probably the greatest ever - but he was a horrible human being, and I've often found it somewhat wrong that we, as a society, were all willing to overlook the fact that he was a horrible human being, simply because he was an American, and his opponent was Russian.

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