FISCHER'S LEGACY.

Himmler2339
Himmler2339
Nov 25, 2007, 12:00 AM |
4 | Amazing Games

Bobby Fischer was born in 1943. From the time he was a six year old living in Brooklyn until he won the world championship at twenty-nine, he was totally preoccupied with chess. At the age of fourteen, he won the United States championship, an unparaleled feat. But he was already becoming bitter about the shabby treatment of chess in the United States. He was incensed, for example, that while the Russians spent lavishly to field a well coached team for the Olympiad, Americans were hard pressed to raise the airfare to compete. In his biography of Fischer, Frank Brady suggests that the reason for Bobby's grandiose financial demands after his rise to fame was as much the desire to give chess in the United States recognition and stature as the wish for personal enrichment. In 1977, Bobby Fischer was offered a quarter of a million dollars to play a single game at Caesars Palace but turned it down: it was not enough money. President Marcos offered to sponsor a three million dollars championship match in the Philippines, and Bobby was said to have ten million lined up in commercial offers. Then, turning his back on fame unprecedented for a chess player and tremendous potential wealth, he surprised his fans by retiring from the game and becoming a recluse. He has not been seen in public for years. With his disappearance, Fischer created a chess wasteland. The new clubs of the seventies disappeared along with him, and many of the old ones withered in membership and grew shabby. For example, the Marshall Chess club has become badly run-down and is so financially depleted that frequently there are no chess pieces available for its members. It is empty most of the day, except for a few old men who snore in their armchairs, and its membership has shrunk from more than seven hundred in 1974 to only about two hundred today. Directors of both the Marshall and Manhattan chess clubs have speculated that without an unexpected infusion of money and interest in chess soon-perhaps the reemergence of Bobby or the coming of a new Fischer New York City may not be able to support a clean and respectable chess club. During the past fifteen years, the parents of some of America's strongest young players have forbidden them to pursue the game lest it become a dead-end preoccupation. Noted chess teachers have become computer programmers, art dealers and bookies. To survive as weekend players, some of the talented young men who were lured to chess by Fischer fifteen years ago now drive cabs, unload trucks or hustle chess in the parks. One international master  who for many years has supported himself by working at menial jobs says, "I can't make a living from ches, but I've devoted so much time to the game that I have no other marketable skill. Sometimes when I look back, I wish I hadn't seen Shelby Lyman on television. I would have done something else with my life."

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