Saturday, January 19, 2008
Le Roi est Mort
At age 13 he defeated Donald Byrne an International Grand Master of Chess.* He was the youngest US Champion (14), the youngest Grandmaster of Chess (15), and the first American World Champion of Chess beating the Russian Boris Spassky in what was by far the most dramatic duel since Burr-Hamilton. He was an iconic national hero, a genius (his IQ was estimated at 181), and he made chess cool. He was also an incredible egomaniac, later a bitterly reclusive anti-Semite and in the end almost certainly mad. His slow descent into mental illness, early signs of which could be seen as far back as the 60's, was profoundly painful for the world to watch.
Bobby Fischer has reposed at the age of 64. May his memory be eternal.
"Oh for God's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings."
* A commenter corrects me in noting that Mr. Byrne was not yet rated as a grandmaster when he was defeated by Fischer. See comment # 1.