Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bobby and Howard

There is a passing similarity between the decent into madness of social isolation that Bobby Fischer suffered and the decent into madness of social isolation that affected Howard Hughes. Given time perhaps Martin Scorsese will make a movie about this Brooklyn kid. He remained Bobby through out his life, never Robert. Perhaps his madness was that of never really growing up after having grown up too soon.

Or perhaps his paranoia was justified,given how he went from Red Diaper Baby to American Chess ChampionWho Defeats The Reds.

For it turns out from now declassified FBI files that Bobby’s biological parents, Paul Lemenyi and Regina Fischer (née Wender), were for many years spied on by the federal government, which feared they had pro-Soviet sympathies. Her husband, Gerhardt Fischer, whom she divorced in 1945 when Bobby was 2 years old, had in 1939 been permanently barred from entering the United States on account of his suspected Commie sympathies, and according to the FBI never did so. Short of also being possessed of magical powers of impregnation by a process of thought or telepathy, he could therefore not have fathered young Bobby.

His paranoia was the same as that of the culture of Cold War America in which he grew up. A paranoid culture of the American Military Industrial Complex which also impacted on Howard Hughes. And it is a culture that continues today Post 9/11.That Bobby Fischer like Hughes saw conspiracies running the Chess World and then America even if he mistook the source, is understandable.

Unfortunately his criticism of the Israel US domination of the Middle East was tainted by his own self loathing of being Jewish and by holocaust denial in effect the denial of his own parentage and heritage.

Such social schizophrenia resulted in a very personal madness of social isolation. He went from Cold War Prodigy to Social Pariah in a few short years resulting in his further break down. As a result he is another victim of the emotional plague.

Influenced as he was by the Cold War propaganda of American Culture such social schizophrenia is understandable, it still exists today on the right. A right which sees Bolshevism and Communism as a Jewish conspiracy and even attributes that same conspiracy to the development of the anti-communist/anti-Stalinist neo-con movement of the Sixties being that it was made up of former leftists from the New York Jewish intellectual circles.

BOBBY FISCHER: 1943-2008

By the end of his life his eccentricity and paranoia had come to overshadow his achievement.

Even in his strange exile from the chess scene, however, Fischer continued to haunt it. He became the Howard Hughes of chess, with fans eager for his return reporting sightings at tournaments and continuing to analyze his games years after other champions had taken his place.

On the day after Bobby Fischer’s death it was clear that Icelanders felt they had lost a friend. Many had grown accustomed to seeing this bearded man in central Reykjavík. Even though he was a very private man who kept to himself it is clear that he had a small group of very good friends. Those remembered him yesterday with fondness even though they made it clear that he had been very difficult at times.

Remembering Bobby Fischer, chess's Cold War warrior

An Appreciation From an Heir

Q: What was Mr. Fischer’s place in chess history?

Mr. Kasparov: Definitely, Fischer’s contribution was the most revolutionary. He made chess more professional in terms of overall chess strategy and proper education in chess, in bringing everything he had into the game.

Q: What do you mean?

A: He exhausted himself, his opponent and all the resources at the chess board. He was a real fighter, at a time when short draws were often agreed. Fischer was unstoppable. They [other top players] had nothing to offer to conquer his dedication to the game. He also added an element of psychological warfare.

Q: Did he influence your career?

A: I was seven, eight, nine in the early 1970s. We didn’t know much about the Cold War, of Fischer being the symbol of individualism and freedom fighting the great Soviet machine. Only later when I worked on [writing the book] “My Great Predecessors” did I realize the full impact of the Fischer revolution. He was a unique combination of a great researcher and fierce fighter and great chess player — a man with tremendous chess capacity.

Excerpts from Associated Press coverage of the Bobby Fischer-Boris Spassky Match of the Century in 1972

Fischer-Spassky, 1972, Game 6

Click on the diagram to replay a crucial game from the tournament.

After losing the first game and forfeiting the second, Bobby Fischer had stormed back to tie the match after five games. In Game 6, he played an opening he had never played before, and in which Boris Spassky had never lost. In a masterful display, Mr. Fischer pushed Mr. Spassky off the board, took the lead in the match and never looked back.

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