With the death of Bobby Fischer chess has lost one of its greatest figures. Fischer’s status as world champion and celebrity came from a charismatic and combative personality matched with unstoppable play. I recall thrilling over the games of his 1972 Reykjavik world championship match against Boris Spassky when I was nine years old. The American had his share of supporters in the USSR even then, and not only for his chess prowess. His outspokenness and individuality also earned him the quiet respect of many of my compatriots.
Fischer’s beautiful chess and his immortal games will stand forever as a central pillar in the history of our game. And the story of the Brooklynite iconoclast’s rise from prodigy to world champion has few peers for drama. Apart from a brief and peculiar reappearance in 1992, Bobby Fischer’s chess career ended in 1972. After conquering the chess Olympus he was unable to find a new target for his power and passion.
Fischer’s relentless energy exhausted everything it touched – the resources of the game itself, his opponents on and off the board, and, sadly, his own mind and body. While we can never entirely separate the deeds from the man, I would prefer to speak of his global achievements instead of his inner tragedies. It is with justice that he spent his final days in Iceland, the site of his greatest triumph. There he has always been loved and seen in the best possible way: as a chessplayer.
Moscow – January 18, 2008