With the passing of the great Bobby Fischer, chess has lost its undisputed king. Chess has lost its Richard the III. Nobody was so demonised in his later years as Bobby Fischer was. After winning the cold war singlehandedly on a chess board in Reykjavik in 1972, he became more and more reclusive and was despised and hated for refusing to play the role that everybody expected from him. Outspoken against the United States and rightly so in his later years, he was pushed to exile in Iceland where he eventually died.
Taking over from my previous post on the Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, I recalled that Mingus refers to a chance meeting with a young (but unnamed) Fischer at the Bellevue Psychiatric Observation Ward in his autobiography "Beneath the underdog". Here is the extract posted in the memory of the great Bobbie Fischer:
"There was a boy sitting across the table from me, reading a book on mathematics - I could see the equations and symbols. I saw him walking around earlier that morning - very tall and gangly, sandy haired, only about eighteen years old. I later learned he was a champion chess player and spoke seven languages. He was a genius, I guess. His parents had him committed, he told me, but he didn't say why. He didn't seem to mind. He was quiet and good-natured and always busy doing something. When he saw me looking at him he asked if I wanted to play a game of chess and he brought out his board. I showed him what I had just wrote.
He looked very thoughtful, and said, "I don't have time to hear everything, but I'm interested in music and keep abreast of what's happening. It's odd you say you haven't been productive. It seems to me you have several-Let's see-" and he counted in his head - "I'd say six or seven albums that came out last year. That isn't bad." I was amazed, but he was right, and I realised last year seemed like ten years ago to me.
He checkmated me three times in a row, and I could see he was getting bored, so I went back to my bunk and tried to write some poetry..."