Chess Legend and Eccentric Bobby Fischer Dies

January 22, 2008 10:39 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Chess prodigy Bobby Fischer dies at the age of 64 in Iceland. His off-the-board antics often overshadowed his sporting prowess.

30-Second Summary

Former chess world champion Bobby Fischer died of kidney failure on Thursday, Jan. 17, in a hospital in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

Showing exceptional promise as a chess player from his elementary school years onward, he dropped out of high school to focus exclusively on the game. At age 14, he became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Championship.

But it was his victorious World Championship match in 1972 against Russia’s Boris Spassky that would remain etched in the minds of the West, which was then in the grip of the Cold War.

U.K. paper The Daily Telegraph's obituary called Fischer “an unrelenting purist, whose game was founded upon a mathematical simplicity and logic, Fischer was unarguably the finest player of his generation, perhaps of all time.”

In his last 30-odd years, it was Fischer’s eccentricities that drew him the most attention. His political views and behavior became so extreme that he was invited onto a Manila radio station for the sheer entertainment value of allowing him to let off steam.

The Atlantic detailed his typical behavior once given a public podium. After his trademark karaoke interlude, he typically blasted his perceived persecution “by world Jewry” and spout his belief that “the U.S. government is a ‘brutal, evil dictatorship’ that has falsely accused Bobby Fischer of a crime and forced him to live in exile.”

Fischer, who was prone to anti-Semitic and anti-American diatribes, thumbed his nose at the West when he played Spassky in a 1992 rematch in Yugoslavia, in contravention of sanctions against then President Slobodan Milosevic.

News network Russia Today points out an irrefutable fact: regardless of Bobby Fischer’s personal shortcomings, he remains “America’s first and only world chess champion."

Headline Links: ‘An unrelenting purist’

Opinion & Analysis: ‘America’s first and only world chess champion’

Reference Material: The life of a chess king

Related Topics: Susan Polgar's blog


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