Mig 
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Ice Fisching III

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The latest:

Japanese Justice Minister Chieko Nohno agreed Tuesday to consider fugitive US chess legend Bobby Fischer's plea to go to Iceland to avoid deportation and potential jail in the United States. ... "Generally speaking, the destination of his deportation will be the United States but we will consider his wishes and whether he has a country willing to accept him as we decide where to deport him," Nohno told reporters.

Japanese authorities earlier said that people are deported to their countries of origin barring exceptional circumstances, such as their homelands being at war.

No one seems to be considering the effects of Fischer living in Iceland. It's not an easy place to hide in, assuming he wants to stay out of the spotlight. Every chess event in Iceland would be obscured by "will Bobby show up?" speculation. Every visiting player will be inundated with Fischer questions. If Kasparov, Kramnik, or Karpov set foot in Iceland the rumor mill would be out of control.

Iceland has hosted many great events in recent years, thanks partly to the work of the amazing Hrˇkurinn chess club. Having all future chess activity overshadowed by Fischer is of dubious value, unless he has a dramatic change of heart (and brain) and decides to be helpful and/or quiet. Fischer remaining a recluse would be better than Fischer sounding off with outrageous statements.

Of course it would be fantastic if Bobby got his head on straight and became a positive ambassador of the sport, although it's probably too late for that in more ways than one. A fresh start can do wonders, and just maybe the Icelandic show of kindness might spark something. More likely, we'd see more of Fischer's habit of biting the hand that feeds.

10 Comments

Mig, you don't seem to have much (if any) personal experience with people who are mentally ill. Sadly, there is no cure. It doesn't make any sense to expect a "change of heart" from a mentally ill person. Yes, they say terrible things, but the illness is not under their control. To blame them for the manifestations of their illness seems unreasonable.
If we have to blame anyone, it's the people who give them air time. They know exactly what they are doing and they are acting completely irresponsibly.

I'm sure the millions of psychiatrists and psychologists out there will be relieved to know there's no cure for mental illness. As for Fischer, I have personal experience with him and have long said he is ill. I have also harshly criticized Eugenio Torre and others who have uncritically given Fischer air-time to voice his views and who call themselves his friends when they are only exploiting him, as well as enabling and exacerbating his problems.

Be that as it may, I'm not willing to entirely excuse Fischer for his words and deeds. He has shown himself to be canny enough that I am not sure he is totally gone. Nor do I think anyone has enough information to make that diagnosis right now.

What many people don't seem to understand is that you can have perfectly normal or even insightful ("canny") conversations with mentally ill people (for example with schizophrenics) about many topics, and yet their overall view of the world is completely distorted by their illness.

As to the question of having sufficient information to make a diagnosis: his mother was Jewish, his father probably was Jewish and I don't think that there are any sane Jewish anti-Semites.

Anti-Semitism is abominable and there should be absolutely no tolerance (nor air-time) for it, but a self-hating Jew is just an incredibly sad personal tragedy.

Personally, I've never been happy with this diagnosis of Fischer. He is what he is. I hold him to every word and really don't believe that he is even neurotic let alone clinically insane. He certainly never grew up properly and never learned to treat others with respect and kindness. I do hope that the Japanese send him to Iceland or anywhere else where he will be out of the public eye. The last thing I want to see is him brought to the US for trial as this would just give him a mountain top to shout hate. Let him go! Let him have his asylum and he will probably not squeak if we agree not to listen.

To my mind it is amazing how people can just look the other way. Here is someone languishing in a Japanese jail cell, as an (indirect) result of playing chess. Yet the chess community are more interested in discussing/debating the merits of someone's mental condition (and if you want to see real mental illness, I'd suggest any amateur chess tournament will give you more cause for gossip than looking at Fischer). The parable of the Good Samaritan springs to mind, and the chess community (with the noble exception of a few people in Iceland) conveniently fits into the category of the first two helpers, and should hang their head in shame.

And the interview Mig was bragging about with Kasparov on chessbase.com re Vol 4 of My Great Predecessors has still to turn up, as far as I'm aware. One question I would have asked is why Kasparov made the outrageous and unsubstantiated claim in the book (that I've never seen elsewhere) that effectively Fischer paid $5000 to stop a woman taking him to prison for assault, and what the sources for this story are.

There is little doubt in my mind that Fischer is seriously ill. This doesn't excuse his awful behavior, but it is a partial explanation.

While I have no desire to see him prosecuted, I'm a bit surprised that Iceland has agreed to take him. His presence in the country could indeed turn into a circus. However, I tend to doubt that he'd show up at chess events there, unless Fischerandom is being played. Fischer says he has foresworn "old chess." It's been many years since he turned up at a chess event where there was no Fischerandom angle.

martin - even if your parents are jews - you don't have to be a jew - it is not a question of race or genetics, it is a question of belief.

the justice department says : fischer is in jail because of playing a chess match in ex yugoslavia. I think fischer wouldn't be in jail if he didn't make those disgusting remarks about 911. an interesting detail about the embargo is that the chess informator (from yugoslavia) sold thousends of books to the us during the war. Will those booksellers go to jail? Probably not. Justice should be blind.
Just an other sophistic idea: Japanese authorities earlier said that people are deported to their countries of origin barring exceptional circumstances, such as their homelands being at war. according to president g.w. bush the us are at war.......

Anti-Semitism is a form of racism and there can be no doubt that many of the horrible things Fischer says are anti-Semitic. He is clearly not referring to religion.

My point is that he can't be anti-Semitic and sane at the same time, because as both of his parents are Jewish he could always become a target of anti-Semitism himself.

I am really astonished that some seem to be able to believe that such an enormous amount of self-hatred could be the expression of a sane mind.

There is even a simple psychological mechanism to explain it:
A child deprived of parental love transforms this rejection into auto-aggression. This always leads to some form of mental problems. In some cases this auto-aggression can "spill over" into aggression against everything and everybody else who just happens to be around, including friends.
All this can be aggravated if there is a pre-disposition for mental illness.

I guess that chess was an ideal form of therapy for Fischer because he could channel his aggressions into the game with its well defined set of rules.

BTW, happy new year to all !

>>There is even a simple psychological mechanism to explain it:
A child deprived of parental love transforms this rejection into auto-aggression. This always leads to some form of mental problems. In some cases this auto-aggression can "spill over" into aggression against everything and everybody else who just happens to be around, including friends.<<

It's cute that you have composed a "just-so" story to explain this. Maybe next you can explain which gods were angered to create the earthquake last month and where to sacrifice virgins to prevent more.

Science, on the other hand, documents chemical changes in the brain (no fault of anyone's parents, unless you blame them for their genes) that often occur in the early to mid twenties and result in the sort of harmful and destructive neurotic behavoir Fischer exhibits. It is a shame nobody has had a chance to treat and document such a brilliant and high-functioning case in a clinical setting with modern antipsychotics and neurotransmitter regulators.

You should read more carefully what I said. When I spoke of a "pre-disposition" for mental illness, I clearly alluded to genetic (and other possible) causes.

On the other hand I have absolutely no doubt that parental love (or lack thereof) has a profound influence on individuals and that a difficult childhood can result in mental problems later in life. I don't think that there is any scientific evidence to the contrary.

Sadly, psychology is not an exact science. I am aware of the immense social strains between the different camps in the field of psychology (often leading to false oppositions). Your post only proves that.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 30, 2004 4:09 PM.

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