He still haunts me. And, his ghost does. They chess me up. They chess me down.
Five years after his untimely death, Bobby Fischer is still very much a moving force.
His chess chases me, checks me, and mates me up.
Sometimes, he and I are still mates. In stalemates.
His dark, white-supremacist, anti-semitic identity is a Mr. Hyde. Monstrous. Evil. Devilish. A xenophobic Bobby Fischer is scary, to think such a super-intelligent man is hatefully anti-equality, anti-humanity. That Bobby Fischer drives me like a terrible nightmare. And, he has so much power with his sinister, little pawns that they can destroy me in just a few, quick moves.
Yet, his genius as one of the greatest chess players of all time, only if you can separate Bobby Fischer the super grandmaster from Bobby Fischer the Hitler-worshiper, is unbelievably inspiring! You follow his games with a teenager’s passion, you try to learn his grandmaster plans with a wide-open mind, and you are simply blown away!
And if you can then extrapolate some of his opening plays, and mid-game strategy, and end-game maneuver with your own life and its unfolding events, you would be amazed how they help you to enrich your analytical power! If you can find parallels with Bobby Fischer’s sacrifices on the chess board with the real sacrifices you have made willingly, perhaps to win your own life’s game, you’d be awestruck to see how education and training, vision, insight and well-designed action plans can help you have the last laugh!
I was simply awestruck to find those parallels. I was following the so-called Game of the Century Fischer played with Donald Byrne in 1956. Fischer was 13 years old!
I am not a highly-ranked chess player myself to analyze the game the best possible way. I am not the current world champion Vishwanathan Anand of Tamil Nadu or even the young Calcutta grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly. I’m only a lifelong admirer of the game of chess, which they say, was invented in ancient India. Growing up in Calcutta, I heard about Fischer. I heard about him and followed his Cold War-era game with Boris Spassky of Soviet Union. For the first time in my life, I came to know about the two famous grandmasters, the fact that they were playing in Reykjavik, Iceland — a neutral country, and then of course anecdotal information about some other world-famous players. Bengali and English-language newspapers and radio commentaries in those pre-television days told us the ever-enthusiastic Calcutta teenagers how USA and USSR arranged for the Fischer-Spassky game to cool off the Cold War heat. And Calcutta media also taught us about some of the most famous chess players of all time. I came to know about Mikhail Tal, Anatoly Karpov, Emanuel Lasker, and much later, Gary Casparov. I came to know about the Game of the Century between Fischer and Byrne. Here’s a YouTube of the game.
Very soon, I’ll be talking about the most important, phenomenal “sacrifice” a young Bobby Fischer made in that game, and then, with your indulgence, comparing it with a sacrifice I’ve made in my life when I was young too.
Therefore, as they say, stay tuned.
I’m describing the magical, momentous move, paraphrasing from online publication ceasefiremagazine.co.uk. Bobby Fischer playing with black pieces. That means, he was already at the receiving end of the game, especially with such a powerful opponent.
Fischer unleashed the Queen sacrifice on Move 17…Be6!!
That means, Fischer let the white bishop take his black queen. Nobody ever lets their queen — most powerful piece on the board — be taken without an exchange of the opponent’s queen. In 99 percent of cases, this means a sure death…I mean, a sure defeat. But Fischer made that extremely well-planned sacrifice in order to win the game. He could see the next ten or twenty moves coming up in chain reaction!
As the magazine said: “This was, without doubt, one of the most stunning moves ever played.”
Ceasefiremagazine continued: “A ‘windmill’ of discovered checks now follows which results in a decisive material advantage.”
Eventually, because of that advantage, Fischer won on Move 41. Fischer 1. Byrne 0.
A major international grandmaster loses to a 13-year-old school kid from New York.
Parallel 1 (however far-fetched it is to you, for me, it is real as a rousing rooster). — I left India. I left a stable, permanent, well-paid, respectable job as a college professor and head of the department of botany. I left my familiar world behind. I left my society behind. I left all my friends behind. People were shocked!! I left for a completely unknown world known as the U.S. I had no money with me. I didn’t know anybody on the Western Hemisphere. I left my wife behind, not knowing when she could come and join me. I didn’t know how to speak English (I could barely manage…for thirty seconds). I never cooked in my life. I could not understand the American accent. I didn’t know how severe a Chicago winter could be. I didn’t know what loneliness could be.
You guess the rest. It was a HUGE risk. It was an ENORMOUS sacrifice — both for myself and my wife. One year later, she left her parents, family and friends too.
Parallel 2 (however far-fetched it is to you, for me, it is real as a rousing rooster: I know I’ve repeated it). — I read my moves right well ahead of time. I planned correctly for the next ten or twenty years. Result: I was able to finish my Ph.D. from a reputable American university, worked for a few years as a scientist, and then switched careers to humanities, media and social science: a lifelong goal. At age 40, an Ivy League school in New York selected me as one of their graduate students. At graduation, the university also gave me a special achievement award. I began working as a writer, journalist and social activist. Finally, perhaps as the end-game, I began working as an educator with a labor college, teaching American workers politics, economics, media, immigration, and writing [English!].
Like Fischer, I started with black pieces…er…with a handicapped situation. Traditional wisdom was, I should have been happy with whatever I had back there. In chess terms, I should have been content with a draw.
But I took calculated risks, used all my education, experience and insight, made well-designed plans, and won the game. By sacrificing a LOT.
And I could imagine how things would turn out to be positive down the road.
Just the same way Bobby Fischer did it.
MORAL OF STORY. — If I can do it, you can do it too. Believe me, you can.
Brooklyn, New York