The King is Dead
It's common knowledge by now that Bobby Fischer has died.
Fischer was a legend. His name was known far beyond the boundaries of the relatively minuscule world of chess.
Fischer was a genius. In spite of his limited education, he demonstrated a virtuosity in both languages and chess. His memory was phenomenal and his analytical skills tremendous.
Fischer was an artist. He sought perfection and almost achieved it on several occasions. He sacrificed himself totally for his art.
Preparing Alone in Reykjavík, 1972
At the time of someone's passing we like to remember their best points and put aside the negative, but we might also consider Marc Antony's words from Julius Caesar, "We have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."
The idea is that what we find both good and bad in a person all helps constitute our understanding of that person as a whole. In Fischer's case, the attributes that enabled him to become a chess legend also limited him in his social life. His total focus on chess to the detriment of all other areas left him seemingly underdeveloped in personal areas. While his chess play was nothing short of remarkable and his contributions to the growth of chess as a viable profession was essential -and often taken for granted, and his rise to the top was a tribute to his single-minded pursuit of a goal, his ability to relate to other people or to entertain other social truths than those that fit his limited sphere of involvement were brought about by the same almost paranoic and ego-centric perspective.
With Max Euwe at his 1972 Victory in Iceland
Fischer's great Chess battles will always be clouded by his private battles with his personal demons. It's unfortunate and sad that his legacy is so ambiguous when one dreams about what it could have been. But such is life.
Now, when I think of Fischer, I only think of the young unconventional genius. The rest of his story resides in the back of my mind, buried in a separate grave.