[<==1960] in 1972, he won the world chess championship. he put chess and reykjavik, where it was held, on the map. he was american. his opponent, boris spassky, was russian. the championship match, 21 games over 50 days (fischer won, 12½-8½), was larger than life. it was the cold war, personified. the soviets had dominated chess for decades, quietly. fischer became a superstar.
the world chess championships are held every three years, yet in 1975 bobby fischer, then 32 and ‘considered by many to be the greatest chess player who ever lived’, was a no-show and has rarely been heard of since. what happened to him?
[2008==>] well, first of all, he died in 2008 (‘from degenerative renal failure at the Reykjavík hospital. He originally had a urinary tract blockage but refused surgery or medications.’). this summarizes his decline: ‘Though brilliant, Fischer’s later years seemed to be marred by paranoia and mental illness. He famously spat on a 1992 statement from the U.S. Government while playing a rematch with Spassky in the former Yugoslavia, participated in numerous anti-semitic rants on radio programs, celebrated the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In short, he became looney.’ i mean, none of us can stay at the peak for long. but does one have to fall into a crevasse?
in his final decades, he never returned to his native america: ‘Fischer lived in Hungary, Germany, the Philippines, Japan, and Iceland. During this time he made increasingly anti-American and anti-semitic statements. After his U.S. passport was revoked over the Yugoslavia sanctions issue [in 1992–‘Fischer remained wanted by the United States government for the rest of his life [[for tax evasion]] and never returned to the U.S.’], he was detained by Japanese authorities for nine months in 2004 and 2005 under threat of deportation. In March 2005, Iceland granted him full citizenship. The Japanese authorities then released Fischer to Iceland, where he lived until his death in 2008.’
‘Kasparov calls Fischer “perhaps the most mythologically shrouded figure in chess”. Some leading players and some of his biographers have ranked him as the greatest player who ever lived. Other writers have said that he was arguably the greatest player ever, without reaching a definitive conclusion. Leonard Barden wrote, “Most experts place him the second or third best ever, behind Kasparov but probably ahead of Karpov.” ‘