Jan 18, 2008

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Well, not anymore I guess. He passed away at home in Iceland yesterday due to an unknown illness.

I don't possess any more than a casual knowledge of the man and the game/obsession that he helped make famous in the early 70's. I did like the film Searching for Bobby Fischer. Surprisingly engaging, given the subject matter. A handful of excellent performances will do that. But it wasn't about the man himself in any way except for referencing him. It was more about searching for the NEXT Bobby Fischer.

I also got a chance to see the ESPN interview with him back in 2005 when he was going to be extradited from Japan to the US to face some kind of charges. He wound up in Iceland and at the press conference he had a nutty moment with reporter Jeremy Schaap. Jeremy's father, Dick Schaap, had been a "friend" and chronicler of Fischer, but the two had a falling out many years ago after Schaap declared that Fischer "didn't have a sane bone left in his body".

Over the years, Fischer had become a raging Anti-Semite even though his own mother had been Jewish. He seemed fixated on the topic, and when spotted Jeremy Schaap at the press conference, the following exchange took place:

Fischer says - Who are you? (Jeremy) Jeremy who?
Schaap - Jeremy Schaap

Fischer - Dick's son?
Schaap Yes

Fischer He was Jewish?
Schaap Yes.......... pause............. as are you.

Fischer (angrily) No I am not. I wrote a letter to the Judaica library in Jerusalem 20 years ago and told them that I am not nor have I ever been a Jew. And they gave me a 'clean bill of health' Did you read that letter? Did you read that?
Schaap What does that mean Bobby?

Fischer It means that they will no
longer list my name in the library as being a Jew.

Fischer You know the US is controlled by the Jews.. They say there's only 6 million Jews in the US but I know its more like 25-30 million.
Schaap How do you know this?
Fischer Well, I've researched and studied it.
Schaap How would you study this?
Fischer Well you know from all of the reading I've done. I've read a lot of books.

Fischer later You know your father banged me pretty hard saying I didn't have a sane bone in my body.. I didn't forget that.
Schaap He said a lot of things about you (Fischer interrupts) I didn't read the statement but I am aware he said it and I don't think he meant it literally.


Fischer I hate to keep 'banging on a guy' but I'd like to go back to this............ what's your name again? (Jeremy) Yeah, his father took me in at one time and was nice to me.... (Jeremy - he took you to Knick games, you were 12) and became a father figure to me and then like a typical Jewish snake he wrote vicious things about me.
I have to object to that...
Fischer Well he said it.
Schaap Yes Bobby and you've done nothing today to disprove anything my father ever said about you.

Schaap then dramatically turned away from a speechless Fischer and the moment was over. Truly odd.

So what happened to this man, this genius? He reportedly had an IQ well over 180, higher than that of Albert Einstein. He was the Grand Champion of the World in chess at a very young age. And then he started to espouse anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about how the Jews in America kept him from his fortune, or how they were planning to kill off the elephants. What the fuck?

So here is to hoping that the man has found in death the peace he seemed never to have in life.


Seals said...

I think he was just too smart for his own good.

I've seen it in people I've met before. It's like to make certain connections in the brain, other more common sense connections are disconnected. Weird.

i am the diva said...

wow, i had no idea...well, truthfully i only knew of his name because of the movie.

Verdant Earl said...

ajooja - Totally agree. But the weird de-evolution into anti-Semitism and anti-American rhetoric is, well, weird.

Diva - good movie, right?

badgerdaddy said...

Diva? Diva's a fucking superb movie! Not see the Bobby whatsisface one though.

Kat said...

Don't believe I've seen this one either...or at least I don't remember it. Sounds like it might be a good one. He's certainly a character.

Verdant Earl said...

badger - easy on the caffiene, mate. BTW...Diva is on TMC tomorrow. Weird.

Kat - The movie isn't about him. It's about chess, obsession, and how it is dealt with by a family and one gifted young boy.

Kat said...

Hmmf. Ok. Worth seeing anyhow?

Verdant Earl said...

Oh yeah...really good film.

Slyde said...

heheh.. you said "his father banged him pretty hard"...


Bruce Johnson said...

It appears that some people with brilliant intellect somehow burn out at a certain age, as if the neurons in their brain start firing a bit to fast, and they just lose it. Another good reason why we should never be TOO smart.