Jan

19

 We have read a fair number anecdotes, biographies and controversies, but perhaps another way to look at Bobby Fischer is to think about what we can learn from him in terms of both life and any applications of his life and chess as they apply to the markets.

Independent thinking and willingness and adaptability to live in any number of places: Iceland, Japan, Philippines, and Hungary. Having been to or lived in all of them I can attest to the fact they are all vastly different. Fischer also demonstrated his ability and the longevity of his talents by making a comeback, on his own terms, as in his match with Boris Spassky in 1992. Or, when it seems as victory is improbable to make a dramatic and hard fought comeback as in his 1972 match against Spassky. How many times does the market make us question our own abilities and how needed it is to focus on ones methods and talents while still evolving and improving to achieve success? The need to be aggressive at all times whether it is attacking or using subterfuge as seems to be the case in his match against the grandmaster Robert Byrne.

This is not a suggestion to disregard or ignore his many faults but rather so that we can focus and learn from many of his positive attributes as well. Fischer's almost single-mindedness on Chess and his many transfers and incarnations also seem to have limited the scope of his achievements and therefore what could have been learned from him. As in nature when a tree grows, or is transplanted, it needs the root structure to support a broadening of the branch material and growth above.

Not being an expert on chess or Fischer, or life, I welcome all other suggestions and observations.

Laurence Glazier adds:

An icon of my youth gone, and the same applies for many of us.

It's a big question what to do about great artists who became antisemitic. Most notably in music, Wagner; and there is an open debate in Israel whether to hear his music.

I was never a fan of the recently late Karlheinz Stockhausen, but I listened to him no more after he psychopathically described 9-11 as a great work of art.

We have to take a broader view. Should we deprive ourselves of the works of DH Lawrence and TS Elliot because they were tainted as children with pervasive cultural prejudice? To boycott all literature by antisemitic English authors pre 1950 would leave very few (George Orwell a notable exception).

Bobby Fischer?

Probably not an Icarus, more a Narcissus who, lacking a mentor to grab his shoulder, fell - ever unaware - through the squared pool into muddy waters.

GM Nigel Davies adds:

I think there are many things to be learned from Fischer. Here's what comes to my mind:

1) Work rate: Fischer's 'remarkable' comeback becomes more comprehensible when one realises that all he ever did during his 20 year break was to study chess. I heard stories about his time in Hungary, that anyone seeking an audience was well advised to send in some of the latest chess books and magazines as a peace offering.

If you read 'Bobby Fischer goes to War' the comparison with the Russians becomes clear. In their training camps they studied a little chess in the mornings and then got the cards and booze out at midday.

2) Ascetic Lifestyle: Bent Larsen told me a funny story once about how he had to rescue a bottle of cognac from Fischer when the latter was intent on pouring it down the sink. Fischer also took a lot of exercise during his best years, mainly swimming I understand.

3) Learning from history: Fischer had a remarkable breadth of knowledge, studying the old games as well as the new. Amongst the openings Fischer rehabilitated were the Bishop's Gambit, the Evans Gambit and the Exchange Spanish.

4) Will to win: Fischer's disdain for short draws is well documented, one of the most famous examples being to laugh when Geller (who had a big plus score against Fischer at the time) offered him a draw on move 7 in their game at the Sousse Interzonal.

5) Preparation: Fischer took opening preparation to new levels of excellence, a trait which Garry Kasparov was to emulate in later years.

A few more will probably occur to me, Fischer was a truly remarkable player whose play was greatly respected (feared) by his rivals.
 


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