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These last few posts have been very thoughtful and I'll reread them in the morning (it's 230ish am where I am now) before jumping in too deeply. I will say however that I disagree with the notion that part of the reason we still obsess/talk about fischer is because there is so much material. I'd say quite the oppositie is true. Fischer lived much of his life as a recluse, even during his playing days he was quite the solitary figure. Frankly it reminds me of Howard Hughes...such a great success who essentially vanished from the public eye. Fischer did the same thing for 20 years and only really resurface to play Spassky in the second match...
I think we are all fascinated by greatness and long to see it. It doesn't matter if it's greatness in chess, baseball, basketball, track and field etc...
Whenever someone comes onto the scene that appears to be truly great at his chosen path, we get really excited. When he quits long before his potential is fully realized, we continue dreaming and fantsizing about what could have been and how great he could have been. That's what Fischer did and that's why we continue to discuss him.
I know what you mean...I was about 10 when the championship happened and I had been playing chess for about 4 years. My mother had been a strong player in Hungary in the 50's, she had a coach and was being groomed. Unfortunately she didn't like the structure and seriousness of the chess coaching and stopped playing as a teen. When she was about 25 she taught me and my older sister how to play to keep me amused. So, I was all primed for chess when fischer fever hit...and I've been fascinagted ever since.
Because he was the greatest chess player of all time...
I find it interesting that when modern World Class players (Carlsen, Anand, etc...) mention possible influences in their play they mention Fischer. AND not self-promoting others who claim they are the greatest because of elo scores.
Even Botvinnik recognised that TAL was a Genius,... And we still get delight from his games and the magnitude of his sacrifices.
Lasker said he had known one chess Genius,... Capablanca,...
We talk about Fischer because he he embodies the greatness of individualism that can overcome when it/we are willing to sacrifice everything to it (Unfortunately, he is like a tragic Shakespearean character, whose worse traits make his greatest fall away into the darkness of his dark mind and eventually destroy him)
I do not know what greatness is,... but a 100 years from now they will remember him,... Will they remember any of the other(s) from the last 20 years? Time will tell.
i think that fischer is so popular because when you start to get into chess seriously your first pro player learn about is fischer my teacher showed me the movie searching for bobby fischer the first chess book i read was bobby fischer teaches chess honestly i think if he had the computers we have now he would be better than carlsen
I think fans/participants in every sport or game are always looking for the next "great one" that will be so much better than everyone before them, it will bring tremendous excitement to all involved.
Every time a young prospect shows potential greatness, the excitement builds. The problem is that 99 out of 100 times they fall short of hopes.
At his peak, Fischer held that level of promise. So people are still fascinated by what could have been and wonder whether he would have achived their fantasies if he was more mentally stable.
I will say this,... I went and bought from an antique dealer at very high cost 60 Memorable games. Honestly, I have not gone over all of them, except the Gligoric (Exchange Ruy) and the last game with Stein (Another true genius). Also, Keres Study ending that results in a draw and of course the Varna Olympic game with Botvinnik.
I will say one thing,... I have never regretted nor doubted that I got my money's worth.
Maybe that is what we like about Fischer,... He gave you it all. Like Monseratt, Victor Hugo, Pele, Pancho Gonzalez, or that guy in America LIN on the NY Knicks team.
You knew he never spared himself, or his opponent, to get the last drop of blood out the game,... Ultimately, he loved the game like a hacker, but played like a GOD. Which is what we all wished we could do.
And Fischer also gave up on the game and stopped playing (kinda like CombatVision seems to have done).
Fischer was the Vincent van Gogh of chess. nuff said.
So he wrote lots of letters, drove his roommate to the South Seas and then shot himself?
Precisely. Also cut of his own ear and produced art that will withstand the ages...
Obviously the fascination with Fisher will fade with time, when all the living grandmasters who grew up in awe of him are themselves gone. And of course it's not surprising that there is more interest in him in the U.S. than anywhere else. But as someone has already remarked, it's amazing how many of todays grandmasters still cite him as one of their greatest influences. There really was somethng special about his chess. Aside from his tremendous skill, his level of fighting spirit and committment to the game were unparalleled, and set a new, higher standard.
It's also interesting to note that despite his difficult personality, he seemed to be on excellent terms personally with almost all his fellow GMs. Spassky was a good friend, of course, but he also seemed be on excellent terms with Tal, Petrossian, and Leonid Stein, among many others.
Perhaps, but people are still talking about Beethoven, Michaelangelo, Socrates, etc... My point being that the greatest masters of their art forms endure through time immemorial. Shakespeare, Mozart, Euclid...of course we could go on and on. So, I don't think it has so much to do with latent americanism, so to speak. But rather Fisher's reputation (well earned I'd argue) as the man who created the modern revolution of chess; taking down the soviet chess machine by creating a new way of batteling in chess designed in reaction to soviet dominance. This is a big part of why the modern GMs still look at fischer with such high regard.
During Fisher's playing career he was always regarded as a proper gentleman, good sport and gracious opponent. His problems, as a player, were only with organizers. Of course his fellow GMs appreciated his over the board behavior as proper but they probably held an even deeper appreciation for him as the man who brought "big time money" in to the game of chess. If not for Fischer very few GMs would be able to make a living as ches players/teachers in the we western world.