Saturday, 19 January 2008

More on Bobby Fischer

(8.45am) Went to the market this morning to pick up a copy of the New Straits Times to see what they had printed about Bobby Fischer. Quite disappointed with the coverage.

Just a single column of syndicated news (left). Compare it with The Star (right) which gave far more prominence to the story.

(1.30pm) Went to do a Google search again. There are now 1,359 news articles on his death.

(1.50pm) At the time of his match with Spassky in 1972, the news wire services had a field day with this match. It was very symbolic. Here was Bobby Fischer, the darling of the Free, Democratic West and here was Boris Spassky too, the iconic representative of the Evil, Communist East. The Cold War was at its height and nothing could be more representative of the Cold War than a match between the best minds from the Free, Democratic West and the Evil, Communist East.

Actually, it was nothing of that sort. Fischer was only looking after his own self interests. He saw the opportunity to earn Big Bucks from the match and he made sure that he would be able to extract the most from it. The professional chess player that he was, he also pressed for the most perfect playing conditions from the World Chess Federation and the organisers, and he got them!

But the world Press, dominated by the Free, Democratic West continued to milk this match by proclaiming it as a defacto war between the West and the East.

(6.30pm) In Malaysia, Fischer-mania spawned a lot of interest in chess. Even non-chessplayers had heard of this great chess player even though they tended to misspell his name as Fisher. I remember that in 1973 or so, there was even a weekly programme on RTM1 to teach chess to beginners. The presenter was High Court Judge Dato' Annuar who was the president of the Perak Chess Association. And I also remember that I was so disappointed with the show because it was all kid's stuff that was covered. But I suppose for the utter beginner, it was a good start to understanding the game.

(8.40pm) Here are the books on Fischer that I have in my library. The very first one I bought was Fischer- Spassky, Reykjavik 1972 which appeared within weeks of the end of the match. All the drama leading to the match was covered as well as the 21 games played, all annotated.

The Games of Robert J Fischer was a fine collection of all his games played until the end of the match. I loved this book, partly because it was also an historical account of Fischer's progress as a chessplayer from his early Manhattan days at the Marshall Chess Club to his world championship title.

And of course, My 60 Memorable Games. It should be a must-have for any chessplayer. It's Fischer's own thought process that went into this book. An awesome book in the 1970s, it's still awesome by today's standard.

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