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Fischer's Birthday

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If you're in a philosophical mood, here's an amusing YouTube mash-up with astronomy, "there's something out there" text, and Bobby Fischer video clips voiced over one by of the less scurrilous segments of the many interviews Fischer gave to Philippine radio during, I believe, his captivity in Japan. Most of it sounds like the epiphany of a 9th-grade science student, but there is an innocent charm to it for that. ht DC

"Can I go off the air singing a little "All You Need Is Love?"

And he does. Sort of. Fischer would have been 67 today. He died two years ago in Iceland, ending one of the greatest and then saddest stories in the history of chess. It's a pity that "the pride and sorrow" was already taken by his countryman Paul Morphy.


Luckily "the pride and embarrassment" was still available...

Sorrow alone will do for me.

That was an amazingly coherent conversation with Fischer. His stubbornness shows through, but it's intelligent and entertaining and convincing. Quite a dichotomy from the other interviews I've heard.

Refreshingly honest and insightful. Fischer was equally capable of great heights of intellectual endeavour and the depths of illogical thought. A tragic life in many respects.

I've given a great deal of thought over the past 30 years to Fischer's life and have purchased and read/viewed just about every, book, article and video available about his life and profession.

In the end, I can find reasons and justifications for just about all of his behaviors (deep study for many hours/days/weeks is required), but in the end, I just can't accept his hatred of Jews and his anti-American remarks. He was certainly mistreated by a few people who happened to be Jewish, and he was certainly not treated fairly by the U.S. government four or five times. But he was also treated more than fairly by Jews several times and was treated fairly by the U.S. government at least a few times (1972 for example).

I think in the end it all comes down to his father's (Paul Nemenyi apparently) absence and his mother's treatment (good and bad) and ultimately her abandoning of Fischer while he was in his teens (telling is his quote about children raised improperly becoming "wolves"). To me, he's a tragic study in the now all too prevelant abandonment of parental responsibilities in the United States since the 1960's (the "Me" generation, drug abuse, etc.).

I wish that he could have found better guidance and solace somewhere in his life.

"The Pride and Sorrow of Chess" was fitting for Morphy; perhaps something like "The Pinnacle and Tragedy of Chess" would be apropos for Fischer.

Yep, lets celebrate the birthday of an antisemit. Happy birthday!

Kramnik-Fan - Fischer was anti-Jewish, not anti-semite (not all semites are Jewish). Please check your facts before speaking out against someone. There are several youtube videos available where Fischer explains this.

As someone (rightly in my opinion) remarked, what Fischer actually did was not as much hating Jews as calling people he hated "Jews".

He was just ill, mostly. While I obviously cannot definitely diagnose it, I would suspect that Jews and Russians just fit his particular circumstances. If he had a different life, any other large group would have done. He just needed a large group to colour his paranoia and need for conspiracy theory.
That is not ruling out that he had some legit grudges v the Russians...

"Please check your facts before speaking out against someone."

Because after all, Fischer's Jew-hating was always carefully fact-checked, wasn't it? Anyhow he was indeed an anti-Semite in the truest demotic sense, flaunting the most toxic of human prejudices unabashed to the end of his immiserated life. Your cowardly apologia (with the incongruous attack on parenting in the decade of Fischer's 20s...??!) is the last thing the thread needs as we acknowledge the birthday of a Holocaust-denying philonazi who once played beautiful chess.

And WHAT tragedy?? He climbed the mountain and won the crown, after which he lived the way he wanted to live. Tragedy in death is more likely, but I'd bet far more were relieved than devastated at the news of his.

"(deep study for many hours/days/weeks is required)"

Sounds like you lost on time a while back.

Maybe Mark needs to spend a few hours studying the dictionary, to learn the ordinary English language meaning of words.

You can't always deduce meaning from the roots or origin of a word.

Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: an·ti–Sem·i·tism
Pronunciation: \ˌan-tē-ˈse-mə-ˌti-zəm, ˌan-ˌtī-\
Function: noun
Date: 1882
: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group

Fischer was himself a jew. Did he ever actual deny the Holocaust? I don't think he was stupid... to do that! I know he hated Jews but I don't think he took it so far as to change history in his own head.

Sem·ite (sěm'īt')
1. A member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians.
2. A Jew.

a person who discriminates against or is prejudiced or hostile toward Jews.

Peculiar, that...

So, as usual, a Fischer anniversary takes the scab off the festering sore of his anti-semitism. There is no doubt the man was all that and much much more... But we should reflect on that old chestnut "Can we separate the art from the artist". It seems this is nowhere more relevant than in the world of chess. Alekhine was a piss-pot; Capablanca a philanderer; Tal, a morphinist (God, bless him); Karpov a conniving c*; Kasparov an over achieving control freak... the list goes on (and on)... And yet they illuminate a game that we all love to play, but cannot hope to understand like they do. Of course, I would be a tad concerned if one of these gents was to become betrothed to my daughter (not least because several have already passed on...), but from the safety of the algebraic notation of one of their games, I do feel enriched and enlightened (and indeed personally improved) by playing through their achievements on the chess board. I hate to say it, but Clubfoot put it more succinctly than I have seen it put before... Fischer was all of those things, and the man is not worth studying other than as the source of all that is f**ked and feckless; but the chess was beautiful.. Perhaps it might be better to celebrate the anniversary of one of his games with the Byrne brothers....Now they were worth celebrating!

Mark is not wrong at all in his analysis of Fischer´s condition , nor in his use of the word semite .

¨Your cowardly apologia (with the incongruous attack on parenting in the decade of Fischer's 20s...??!) is the last thing the thread needs as we acknowledge the birthday of a Holocaust-denying philonazi who once played beautiful chess.¨
Your attack is out of place , same thing with your use of the ¨philonazi¨ term , braveheart.

No really, let's rehash this all one more time, people.

We have a functioning language, English, in which words have customary meaning as used by modern speakers of the language.

Semite certainly is usually used with a broad meaning including both Jewish and non-Jewish (Middle Eastern) people.

However, the customary meaning of 'anti-semite' cannot be inferred directly from the meaning of 'semite'. 'Anti-semitic' is generally used in relation to Jews alone.

Probably, there are not many people who hate all semites with an equal passion.

Certainly, there are many people who hate Arabs/Moslems, but we do not seem to have a good word for this particular type of hate.

Quite a large proportion of the great players of past and present were Jewish, anyone got any stats on that?

That is not of much relevance here since Fischer used the wider (and more accurate definition) of the word semite , acknowledging that his hate were specially directed to jews.
Despite that , calling him a nazi would be a tremendous mistake .

A more appropriate song for Fischer at that point in his life would have been "Still Crazy After All These Years".

It would probably be wrong, i.e. a mistake, but not sure the mistake would be so "tremendous".

Among other things, this from Larry Evans comes to mind:

"We once watched a documentary on Hitler. Afterwards Bobby said he admired Hitler, and I asked him why. "Because Hitler imposed his will on the world," he replied. This explains a lot about Bobby's own power drive. Later he devoured Hitler's Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a proven forgery." http://www.chessville.com/Editorials/Interviews/GMLarryEvansInterviewOnBobbyFischer.htm

Bobby admired Husseim too , that doesnt make him a muslim .

To everyone who have been remarking that Fischer is anti this or anti that and thus is such a terrible individual, etc and etc: Look at his behavior before and after 1972 and we see two different individuals. It's clear that mental illness began to take it toll at some point. You can argue that signs problems were slowly emerging throughout the 60s. To me Fischer is still the conqueror hero of 1972. His behavior post 1972 should be looked at with the proper context.

Thank you for making my point chesshire cat - Exactly!

Sem·ite (sěm'īt')
1. A member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians.
2. A Jew.

"Semite" has more than one meaning. Certainly not all Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, etc. were/are Jews. This is part of what made Bobby so infuriated with the general public and led to some of the misunderstanding about his character. Some of them (obviously this includes some of the bloggers here) could not follow the intellectual complexity of concepts and definitions.

Again, and that definition cited proves the point, Bobby was Anti-Jewish and not Anti-Semite. And for the record, I find/found his Anti-Jewish sentiment to be ill-founded and abhorrent.

He only denied the Holocaust when afforded the chance to do so. One widely circulated quote from the early 80s: "Six million? Impossible. Maybe 100,000 thieves and troublemakers". He repeated it to several others and it appeared in an SI article about his vagrancy during the decade or more after he forfeited the title.

"Again, and that definition cited proves the point, Bobby was Anti-Jewish and not Anti-Semite."

Sheesh, English is tough but not that tough.

'Anti-semite' is an English word meaning 'Anti-Jewish'.

Of course ole Bobby wasn't Anti-Arabs, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, and Phoenicians.

Carthago delenda est!

To chesshire cat:
You mentioned a legitimate beef Fischer had against the Russians. Bobby's famous quote, "you all are Russians to me" is just one of many that prove your point. Should I hate Fischer because of that? I think not.
Personally, as a Russian, I'm not bothered by repeated anti-Russian (read anti-Soviet) statements that are ever-present in chess discussions.
Hatred for all things Soviet is something that a lot of people have build and maintained their careers of, and most of them are my former compatriots. Nothing new there, and people are welcome to keep on beating the dead horse.

I'm sure if Fischer ever had a reason to think of me he would probably refer to me as a cheating Soviet. He wouldn't have to call me a Jew because a stronger association (Soviet) would be available to denigrate me.

To Mark:
As for Fischer's anti-American remarks, he was hardly the only intellectual in the Western World who's gone on the record doing so. The difference is that he almost suffered a loss of a great financial opportunity (the Spassky match in 1992) because of the actions of the US State Department. I wonder how many people would shrug it off and agree to throw away millions of dollars because of their government taking a political issue with another country.

"pride and embarrassment" of chess fits just fine. Moprhy was a gentleman and maybe the greatest chess talent ever thst went mentally ill at a time when treatment for that did not exist unless lobotomies or spinal taps count. Fischer was who he was, there was no sorrow but but a bitter, hateful man. Away from the chessboard there was not even a modicum of pride for his actions, they were dispicable.

Fischer was just an unsympathetic person throughout his career, just read what he said when he was around 20 and you recognize the views of the later years on women, jews, russians, cheating opponents, matters like that. Naturally he got much worse, but he wasn't the nice guy suddenly going mental. I can pity him but not like him.

Does anyone know if there's any way of obtaining copies of the articles Bobby wrote, e.g., for "Boys' Life"? Have they ever been published elsewhere, or are they on the internet somewhere? I do have the "Bust to the King's Gambit" article, but I think I had to go to the library to get it & copy it from microfilm, which was a hassle.



There is definitely at least one other PDF article out there, where he annotates a game by Rogoff, cos I read it ages ago, but I can't find it so quickly. A bit of googling should get it...and maybe there's others too...

Rogoff himself hosts the Boys' Life column mentioned above:


Former Tenderfoot that I am, I remember that Larry Evans filled in for Fischer at least once, annotating a Fischer-Kholmov game.

Rogoff himself hosts the Boys' Life column mentioned above:


Former Tenderfoot that I am, I remember that Larry Evans filled in for Fischer at least once, annotating a Fischer-Kholmov game.

I just noticed: the Speckman mate-in-three relies on the same theme as this Benko mate-in-three.

Benko famously stumped Fischer with this one (very cute!)

8/8/8/4k3/8/8/8/2BQKB2 w - - 0 1

Amen, brother.

The sooner American chess gets over Fischer, the sooner American chess will again be great.

I wish things were so simple.

How do people feel about all the work Evans, Edmundson (he was practically begging Bobby for his own good), Benko (who gave up his spot in the candidates or no title for Fischer,Kissenger(though he was a professional ass kisser), Spassky (for allowing all of Bobby's whims), and all the sponsor's feel about what happened in 1972 and afterwards. Was it worth it to do all that for an ungrateful (gave no thanks to anyone), hatefilled, disgusting human bigot. And would they ALL do it again?

"And would they ALL do it again?"
I'd lay a large sum of money on it that they would..

I'm not so sure about Spassky, who might have kept his title if he hadn't accommodated Fischer's whims. On the other hand, if he had "held firm" (ala Karpov) he wouldn't have picked up 1.5 million for losing the Fischer-Spassky 1992 rematch.

jsy, thank you for your wise comment. Also:

"As far as Fischer's politically incorrect remarks are concerned, I never took them seriously, even thought the twin towers burning on 9/11 could be seen from my hometown in New Jersey. Fischer was an artist. As an undergraduate and graduate student, majoring in the arts, I studied many famous novelists, poets, painters, and composers. Put Bobby Fischer in a room with the rest of them, and he might have been the sanest person in the bunch!" -
James R. West, US National Master

Bobby Fischer--the Triumph and the Tragedy.

""Semite" has more than one meaning"

Yes it does, but "anti-semite" does not. Put together these words has a specific meaning solely directed at the discrimination of jews.

It's like listening to a kid eating a sausage in a bun while vigorously claiming ha has never eaten a hotdog. Grownups should be able to make the distinction.

Bobby Fischer filled in for Fischer at least once, annotating a Fischer game.

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