Magazine article Newsweek

For Him, the Game Was Everything

Magazine article Newsweek

For Him, the Game Was Everything

Article excerpt

Bobby Fischer, 64, Chess Master

He became a chess grand master at age 15 and a cold-war hero at 29, when he dethroned the Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in a storied 1972 match. Soon after, though, Fischer, a tempestuous personality, withdrew from the public eye. Following two decades of seclusion, he emerged briefly in 1992, defying an executive order by President George H.W. Bush forbidding him from participating in a rematch against Spassky in the former Yugoslavia, then under U.N. sanctions. (Fischer won easily.) Later, he was jailed in Japan, accused of a passport violation, and made headlines more than once for anti-Semitic comments. He eventually settled in Iceland. When he died last week of kidney failure, his longtime friend Larry Evans, a chess prodigy and writer, noted a fitting irony: Fischer died at 64, which is also the number of squares on a chessboard. Evans shared these memories of his late friend:

I was with Bobby from the beginning. I met him when he was 13, on the drive home from a Canadian tournament in 1956. Later, I became his collaborator on "My 60 Memorable Games," his masterpiece. Bobby remembered each game like it was a short story: he memorized opponents' facial gestures, their precise moves, the way in which they interacted. But getting those details out of him was like pulling teeth--he didn't want to give away his secrets. I'd say, "Well, if he makes this move, then what do you do?" I scribbled it all down and tried to be as faithful to his words as I could. …

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