Friday, January 18, 2008

He's never coming home

Bobby Fischer and Susan Polgar, playing "fischerandom" chess in Budapest, Hungary, circa 1990.

When I was Executive Director of the United States Chess Federation, I had this crazy fantasy that I could coax Bobby Fischer into coming back to the U.S., apologize to everyone he had offended, make amends with the I.R.S. and the State Department, and play chess again. It went along with the fantasy that I could persuade Susan Polgar to come out of retirement, change her FIDE citizenship, and play for the U.S. in the chess Olympiad. They were both former World Champions and could serve as role models to promote chess, I reasoned. The difference was that Susan Polgar is rational, pragmatic and gracious. Bobby Fischer, however, was a crazy man. Today we learned, for certain, what many observers already knew: Bobby Fischer is never coming home.

Read more about his death here, and here.

Bobby Fischer won the World Championship of chess in a match against Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972. He forfeited his crown three years later when he refused to defend his title against Anatoly Karpov. On Thursday, January 17, 2008, he passed away at the age of 64 in Reykjavik, where he lived in relative seclusion since 2005.