Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008

Bobby Fischer

Americans like a winner. If you lose, you’re nothing. I’m going to win, though. It’s good for the match that Spassky has a plus score against me. We’ve met five times. He’s won three times and we’ve drawn twice. But I’m a stronger player and a long match favors me.

— Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer died last week in Reykjavik, Iceland, the site of his greatest triumph — the 1972 World Chess Championship. He was 64 years old, one year for each square on a chessboard.

For the first half of his life, his brilliance as a chess player mostly outweighed his irrational judgment and paranoia. For the second half of his life, it was the other way around.

In the middle of the Cold War, he beat the Soviets at their own game. He became as famous as a rock star while playing a game that absolutely no one in this country cares about. I’d bet a dollar to a doughnut that most Americans can’t name one other chess grandmaster, living or dead, such is our apathy for chess and the people who play it — but by god, we do love a winner!

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