Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dead at 64

Fischer tried to abandon chess but chess refused to abandon him. He died, like Nabokov's character in "The Defense" at 64. Only non-chess playing writers would not see the poetry there. We talk about his anti-Americanism now but if you were a young boy still learning the ropes, his games are the best you can find because they go against the logic and so directed at winning. He may lose a queen but the opponent's king would be pathetically pinned down by a knight and bishop. At 13 years old, he was already KO'ing greats like Donald Byrne with this move (after Byrne's 17th move 17. Ke1-f1):
Fischer moved not his threatened queen but his bishop to e5. Quiet move. So after 18. Bxb6 (thanks for the Queen), Fischer gets the lowly bishop and checks. B's King moves to g1 and F's knight checks him at E2. So it was pinning back and forth (20. Kf1 Nxd4+ 21. Kg1 Ne2+ 22. Kf1 Nc3+ 23. Kg1 axb6). How great was that? A year after that game, Fischer won his first US championship. He would win seven more times including the 1963 to 1964 where he won 11 times with no tie or loss. That was US championship level!
Of course, out of the playing board, Fischer was another story.

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