Bobby Fischer - May 15, 2001

LOVE him or loath him, Bobby Fischer will always remain one of the games biggest stars, not to mention one of its biggest enigmas.

Thanks to the legions of fans who have kept the faith over the years, the erratic and often misguided American genius is still big news in the game despite the fact it's nearly ten years now since he last (officially) played a game.

The rumor mill on his whereabouts these days is always active. Prohibited from returning to the US due to an outstanding arrest warrant from the Treasury (though when I visited Seattle recently I have it on authority from a very reliable source Fischer managed to come back into the country via Canada to attend his sisters funeral last year), he's been known to favor living in Budapest (even Scotland's own Jonathan Rowson bumped into him one night there whilst on the metro), though its recently reported he now lives in Japan. Whilst in Budapest, he struck up a working friendship with the Hungarian No.1, Peter Leko. In return for some "free" advice and insight into the game from the great one, Leko played a number of (unpublished) Shuffle Chess games with him.

It's now claimed Fischer has been playing again under a pseudonym on an Internet chess server and smashing up several strong GMs - by playing weird openings such as 1. f3 followed by some bizarre king maneuvers in an effort to avoid book theory. Often the games are said to resemble his latest development for chess, "Fischer Random". As ever, all playing stories such as this is taken with a healthy pinch of salt, but it would be good for the game if substantiated.

Fischer even made it into the pop charts this year! The Sydney-based indie guitar band Lazy Susan managed to get a lot of airtime recently in Australia with a single, simply entitled, "Bobby Fischer", telling of the life and struggle of their hero.

Certainly no candidate for an Ivan Novello or Grammy award, the catchy lyrics go something like:

"Bobby Fischer beat Spassky in Iceland '72. I know a girl who's better looking but who thinks like Bobby Fischer too. When Bobby Fischer was a kid they knew he was a prodigy. I know a girl who's somewhat older but no less of an authority."

I wish I had the smarts to understand her charts. If I don't concentrate she'll have me in checkmate.

In Tampa Bay and Lafayette they all knew Bobby Fischer's name. I know a girl who made her mark in smaller cities but her fame's the same. When Bobby Fischer made his comeback in the 90s he was worse for wear. I know a girl who made a comeback but her mind was altogether there.

She said, 'I drink chocolate milk from a cow I built. Doot n'doot doot doot. Doot'n doot doot doot.'

They're all saying you'll never play again. They're all saying you're finished, you're washed up as a friend. All my life I have 'feather-dustered' but it's not how it's going to end. Oh no.

Spies in hideouts send their secret messages. There's a thief caught in the headlights of a car beneath a bridge. There's no lights on in the house except the light in the fridge. Oh yeah.

Reykjavik, no one ever says Reykjavik in a song. Reykjavik, no one ever says Reykjavik in a song."

Despite persistent rumors he'll play at some time a "Fischer random" or Shuffle Chess match against a top GM (one rumor had it he would play his long-time friend, the Philippines GM Eugene Torre), nothing ever materialized. Yet, despite declaring on winning the world crown in 1972 , "all I want to do, ever, is play chess", he never officially touched another piece for twenty years - and only then when he had reputedly run out of money.

He came out of his self- imposed retirement in 1992 to face his old rival, Boris Spassky, in a $4M match in war-torn Yugoslavia. Unbelievably, in first game it was almost as if he hadn't been away.

R Fischer - B Spassky,
Steffi Stefan 1992 Round (1)
Spanish Opening

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Ref b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 0-0 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb1 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bd2 Bg7 17. a4 c5 18. d5 c4 19. b4 Nh7 20. Be3 h5 21. Qd2 Rf8 22. Ra3 Ndf6 23. Real Qd7 24. R1a2 Rfc8 25. Qc1 Bf8 26. Qa1 Qe8 27. Nf1 Be7 28. N1d2 Kg7 29. Nb1 Nxe4 30. Bxe4 f5 31. Bc2 Bxd5 32. axb5 axb5 33. Ra7 Kf6 34. Nbd2 Rxa7 35. Rxa7 Ra8 36. g4 hxg4 37. hxg4 Rxa7 38. Qxa7 f4 39. Bxf4 exf4 40. Nh4 Bf7 41. Qd4+ Ke6 42. Nf5 Bf8 43. Qxf4 Kd7 44. Nd4 Qe1+ 45. Kg2 Bd5+ 46. Be4 Bxe4+ 47. Nxe4 Be7 48. Nxb5 Nf8 49. Nbxd6 Ne6 1-0

by John Henderson


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