Searching for Bobby Fischer

Himmler2339
Himmler2339
Dec 7, 2007, 12:00 AM |
2 | Chess Players

After winning the world championship in 1972, Bobby Fischer became an American folk hero, like Daniel Boone or John Wayne. Bobby is tall and broad-shouldered; his face is clean-cut, masculine, attractive. but on second glance this impression dislocates into a number of odd parts. His head, for instance. That amazing brain is lodged in a small oval skull that doesn't reach very far above the ears. His low forehead makes his jaw look large, at certain angles almost Neanderthal. When he feels weak or uncertain he resembles the dopey kid Jerry Lewis used to portray. Yet there is a sense of danger about Bobby. When he is angry or confident his face is alert but unthinking, the face of a big wild animal that hunts for a living His eyes are like a tiger's, with the same yellow-green serenity and frightening emptiness. When he laughs. his wide, full-lipped mouth opens into a happy cave filled with white teeth. Most of his facial expressions are rudimentary displays of fear, hunger, anger, pleasure, pain, suspicion, interest all the emotions a man or animal can have without feeling close to any other man or animal. I have rarely seen him register sympathy, invitation, acknowledgment, humor, tenderness, playfulness. and never love. Bobby wears a business suit about as naturally as a python wears a necktie. He stands six one, weighs close to 190, and a padded jacket makes his shoulders seem so wide his head looks "like a pea sitting on a ruler," somebody said. His torso is flaccid, his arms girlshly soft. But his hips and thighs are powerful and his movements vigorous. Sometimes they are comically awkward. Bobby walks twice as fast as the average hiker, but he walks the way a hen runs-and this hen fills a doorway. He comes on head forward, feet wide apart and toes turned in, shoulders lurching side to side, elbows stuck out, fingers flipping. Fastening his eyes on a point about four miles distant and slightly above everybody else's head, he charges toward it through the densest crowds. Bobby functions like Frankenstein's creature, a man made of fragments connected by wires and animated by a montrous will. When the will collapse or the wires cross, Bobby cannot execute the simplest acts. When  he loses interest in a line of thought, his legs may simply give out, and he will shuffle off to bed like an old man. Once, when I asked him a question while he was eating, his circuits got so befuddled that he jabbed his fork into his cheek. Bobby seems to keep only one thought in his mind at once, and a simple thought at that. He talks in simple sentences that lead him where he is going steppingstones, and his voice is flat, monotonous, the color of asphalt-the voice of man pretending to be a machine so people won't be able to hurt him. But Bobby is too vital to play dead successfully, Energy again and again escapes in a binge of anger. Every night, all night, it escapes into chess. When he sits at the board, a big dangerous cat slips into his skin. His chest swells, his green eyes glow. All the life in his body flows and he looks wild and beautiful. Sprawled with lazy power, eyes half closed, he listens to the imaginary rustle of moving pieces as a tiger lies and listens to the murmur of moving reeds.*

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