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The Madness of A Master

Updated on July 4, 2013

The Rise and Fall of A King

One great tragedy is the genius or talented person who destroys himself or herself. Musicians Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston are two recent examples of this. But there were more spectacular flame outs; a more tragic case may be 1972 World Chess Championship Bobby Fischer.

Frank Brady chronicles this saga in his book Endgame. His book traces Fischer's life from his early years in New York City to his solitary death in Iceland. While I learned a lot about this mysterious master, I was left with a lot of questions.

For one, I wonder if Bobby Fischer had something on the Autistic Spectrum. Many of his actions and behaviors sounded similar to a person with a condition along those lines. His demands could border on the ridiculous, and those demands may have cost him the chance to defend his title.

A second issue though was Fischer's descent into paranoia and hate. I at first wondered if that had roots in a Christian Cult that he had gotten involved in. Research proved that was not the case. But could have his decision to drop out of high school and relative disinterest in education made him vulnerable to such ideas. Fischer knew chess, especially the openings and studied his opponents well. But was it at the expense of other knowledge and interpersonal skills. Fischer seemed to have a real problem with people.

I also wonder if at some level, Fischer was a pawn in the Cold War. That the United States saw him as a way to beat the "Red Menace" at what was seen as their game. I am sure that the 1972 Chess Championship, broadcast on PBS, was treated like a battle of the the two nations.

One final thing that the book mentioned, was Fischer struggled with faith. From the sect he started in, to following the teachings of a guru, to Catholicism. Could that lack of faith left him without a center?

Bobby Fischer was a complex, and perhaps confused person. A genius of a game who couldn't see past the board in many cases.

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