Robert “Bobby” James Fischer (Chicago, 9 de março de 1943 — Reykjavik, 17 de Janeiro de 2008 ) foi um famoso enxadristabr. (xadrezistapt.) originalmente norte-americano, naturalizado islandês e ex-campeão mundial de xadrez.
Bobby Fischer: How the king of chess lost his crown
I was born the year he achieved a perfect score at the US Championship in 1963, 11 wins with no losses or draws. He was only 20 at that point but it had been obvious for years that he was destined to become a legendary figure.
His book “My 60 Memorable Games” was one of my earliest and most treasured chess possessions. When Fischer took the world championship crown from my countryman Boris Spassky in 1972, I was already a strong club player following every move as it came in from Reykjavík. The American crushed two other Soviet grandmasters en route to the title match, but there were many in the USSR who quietly admired his brash individuality along with his amazing talent.
I dreamed of playing Fischer one day, and we eventually did become competitors after a fashion, though in the history books and not across the chessboard.
He left competitive chess in 1975, walking away from the title he coveted so dearly his entire life.
Ten more years passed before I took the title from Fischer’s successor, Anatoly Karpov, but rarely did an interviewer miss a chance to bring up Fischer’s name to me. “Would you beat Fischer?” “Would you play Fischer if he came back?” “Do you know where Bobby Fischer is?”
Occasionally I felt as though I were playing a one-sided match against a phantasm. Nobody knew where Fischer was, or if he, still the most famous chess player in the world at the time, was plotting a comeback.
After all, at 42 in 1985 he was still much younger than two of the players I had just faced in the world championship qualification matches. But 13 years away from the board is a long time. As for playing him, I suppose I would have liked my chances and I said as much, but how can you play a myth? I had Karpov to worry about, and he was no ghost. Chess had moved on without the great Bobby, even if many in the chess world had not.
It was therefore quite a shock to see the real live Bobby Fischer reappear in 1992, followed by the first Fischer chess game in 20 years. Lured out of self-imposed isolation by a chance to face his old rival Spassky on the 20th anniversary of their world championship match – and by a $5million prize fund – a bearded Fischer appeared before the world in Yugoslavia, a nation in the process of being bloodily torn apart.
The circumstances were bizarre. The sudden return, the backdrop of war, a shady banker and arms dealer as a sponsor. But it was Fischer! One could not believe it. The chess displayed by Fischer and Spassky in Svefi Stefan and Belgrade was predictably sloppy, although there were a few flashes of the old Bobby brilliance.
But was this really a return, or would he disappear just as quickly as he had appeared? As it turned out Fischer never did play again after beating Spassky in that 1992 event. Fischer’s play was rusty, and he sounded disturbed, but in chess he always saw clearly and was honest with himself. He understood that the chess Olympus was no longer his to conquer. But the ghost had renewed his license to haunt us all for a while longer.
Fischer made the headlines a few times more after that. On September 11, 2001, his obscene rant celebrating the attacks was aired on Philippine radio and then around the world on the internet.
In July 2004 he was arrested in Japan for having a revoked passport and detained for eight months until he was granted Icelandic citizenship as a way out of captivity. Fischer had been a fugitive since playing in Yugoslavia in 1992 because the country was under United Nations sanctions at the time.
At the first press conference before the match Fischer spat on a cable from the government of George H W Bush warning him against playing. But he had travelled widely and freely outside the US for a dozen years, and his detention in Japan surprised him as much as anyone.
Then on January 17 2008, he died in Reykjavík after a long illness for which he had refused treatment. Even this was somehow typical of Fischer, who grew up playing chess against himself since he had no one else to play. He had fought to the end and proven himself to be his most dangerous opponent.
It is hard to imagine a more difficult subject than Bobby Fischer to present in an accurate and even-handed fashion. He was a loner who trusted no one. His charisma attracted both starry-eyed sycophants and spiteful critics. Fischer had strong opinions of the kind that tend to create equally categorical sentiments in those who knew him – and in those who didn’t.
The nature of genius may not be definable. Fischer’s passion for puzzles was combined with endless hours of studying and playing chess. The ability to put in those hours of work is in itself an innate gift. Hard work is a talent.
Generations of artists, authors, mathematicians, philosophers, and psychologists have pondered what exactly it is that makes for a great chess player. More recently, scientists with advanced brain-scanning machines have joined the hunt, looking for hot spots of activity as a master contemplates a move. An obsessive-competitive streak is enough to create a good squash player or a good (or bad) investment banker. It’s not enough to create someone like Fischer.
This is not meant to be a compliment, necessarily. Many strong chess players go on to successful careers as currency and stock traders, so I suppose there is considerable crossover in the intuitive calculation skills required. But the aptitude for playing chess is nothing more than that.
My argument has always been that what you learn from using the skills you have – analysing your strengths and weaknesses – is far more important. If you can program yourself to learn from your experiences by assiduously reviewing what worked and what did not, and why, success in chess can be very valuable indeed. In this way, the game has taught me a great deal about my own decision-making processes that is applicable in other areas, but that effort has little to do with natural gifts.
Fischer’s brilliance was enough to make him a star. It was his relentless, even pathological dedication that transformed the sport. Fischer investigated constantly, studying every top-level game for new ideas and improvements. He was obsessed with tracking down books and periodicals, even learning enough Russian to expand his range of sources. He studied each opponent, at least those he considered worthy of preparation.
Frank Brady recounts dining with Fischer and hearing a monologue of the teen’s astonishingly deep analysis of David Bronstein’s openings before the two were to meet in the Mar del Plata tournament in 1960. No one had ever prepared this deeply outside of world championship matches. Today, every game of chess ever played, going back centuries, is available at the click of a mouse to any beginner. But in the pre-computer era, Fischer’s obsessive research was a major competitive advantage.
In his play, Fischer was amazingly objective, long before computers stripped away so many of the dogmas and assumptions humans have used to navigate the game for centuries. Positions that had been long considered inferior were revitalised by Fischer’s ability to look at everything afresh. His concrete methods challenged basic precepts, such as the one that the stronger side should keep attacking the forces on the board. Fischer showed that simplification – the reduction of forces through exchanges – was often the strongest path as long as activity was maintained.
Fischer’s modern interpretation of “victory through clarity” was a revelation. His fresh dynamism started a revolution; the period from 1972 to 1975, when Fischer was already in self-exile as a player, was more fruitful in chess evolution than the entire preceding decade.
Fischer’s uncompromising approach had an even greater impact on the chess world than his results. I am not referring to any “special moves”, as often suspected by those unfamiliar with the game. It was simply that Fischer played every game to the death, as if it were his last. It was this fighting spirit that his contemporaries recall most about him as a chess player.
If genius is hard to define, madness is even more so. Fischer was never properly examined by a professional but was instead declared guilty, innocent, or sick by millions of amateurs from afar.
Starting in the late Nineties, Bobby Fischer began giving sporadic radio interviews that exposed a deepening pit of hatred for the world – profane anti-Semitic diatribes, exultation after September 11. Suddenly everything that had mostly been only rumours from the few people who had spent time with him since 1992 was out in the open on the internet.
It was a shattering experience for the chess community and many tried to respond in one way or another. Fischer was ill, some said, perhaps schizophrenic, and needed help, not censure. Others blamed his years of isolation, the personal setbacks, the persecutions both real and imagined at the hands of the American government, the chess community and, of course, the Soviets, for inspiring his vengefulness.
Clearly this full-flown paranoia was far beyond the more calculated, even principled, madness of his playing years, well described by Voltaire in his Philosophical Dictionary: “Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagancies; and forget not to be excessively opinionated and obstinate.” That is, purposeful and successful madness can hardly be called mad. After Fischer left chess the dark forces inside him no longer had purpose.
Despite the ugliness of his decline, Fischer deserves to be remembered for his chess and for what he did for chess. A generation of American players learnt the game thanks to Fischer and he should continue to inspire future generations as a model of excellence, dedication, and achievement. There is no moral at the end of the tragic fable, nothing contagious in need of quarantine. Bobby Fischer was one of a kind, his failings as banal as his chess was brilliant.
Garry Kasparov became the youngest player ever to win the World Chess Championship in 1985 and remained the top ranked chess player in the world for two decades until retiring from professional chess in 2005. He is now chairman of the United Civil Front, a Russian pro-democracy group opposing the administration of Vladimir Putin.
Magnus Carlsen, the strongest Western chess player since Bobby Fischer, hit the top of the World rankings at the age of 19 in January last year and has remained close to that spot ever since.
This year’s model: Magnus Carlsen
It would not have been easy to predict that the young man from Norway, which has a fairly modest chess tradition, would prove to be so successful. His greatest strengths are a fierce fighting spirit coupled with an innate understanding of the game. The computer technology – in the form of search engines and gigantic million game databases – that so many of his opponents rely on when planning their openings has revolutionised modern opening play, appears to be of little interest for Carlsen; he is keen whenever possible to take his opponents into uncharted territory, justly confident about outplaying them. He is also a virtuoso of the endgame.
An advertising contract with Dutch clothing label, G-Star Raw, has also seen Carlsen stake a claim to being the first Grandmaster supermodel, appearing alongside actress Gemma Arterton on billboards around the world.
Vida e carreira
Filho de pai alemão, Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, um biofísico e mãe judia-suíça naturalizada norte-americana, Regina Wender, aprendeu a jogar xadrez aos seis anos com sua irmã mais velha, que o entretinha com diversos jogos (dentre eles o xadrez) enquanto a mãe ia trabalhar.
Mudou-se cedo para a Califórnia e pouco tempo depois para Nova Iorque, onde pôde desenvolver-se em grandes clubes seculares como o Marshall e o Manhattan.
Aos treze anos jogou a “Partida do Século” num torneio de Mestres em 1956 contra Donald Byrne, irmão deRobert Byrne, o qual também era Grande Mestre e foi vítima de uma das maiores partidas de Fischer no US-ch 1963, o qual Fischer venceu com 100% de aproveitamento, 13 em 13 possíveis e rating performance acima de 3000, feito igualado por Emanuel Lasker, na Alemanha.
Fischer venceu também o campeonato estadunidense oito vezes em oito participações (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1973, 1975 e 1986), sendo a primeira aos catorze anos em 1957 e a segunda aos quinze, em 1958. Venceu jogadores tão fortes como Samuel Reshevsky (considerado pelo próprio Fischer como um dos dez melhores de todos os tempos – até então TOP 10), com tão pouca idade. De dezembro de 1962 até o fim da sua carreira, em 1992, Fischer venceu todos os torneios que disputou, exceto dois, nos quais terminou em segundo lugar: Capablanca Memorial, 1965, vencido por Boris Spassky e a Piatigorsky Cup, 1966, vencida por Smyslov. Geralmente Fischer vencia os abertos e grandes torneios de que participava com 3 ou 3,5 pontos de vantagem em relação ao segundo colocado.
A principal façanha da sua carreira foi a classificação para chegar à final do mundial contra Spassky. Fischer venceu Taimanov (enxadrista top 10) por 6×0 num jogo melhor de 10.
Fischer venceu Larsen (que era um dos cinco melhores jogadores do mundo) por 6×0 num jogo melhor de 10 e venceu Petrosian por 7, 5×2, 5 num jogo melhor de 10. Havia uma hegemonia russa desde quando Alekhinederrotou Capablanca em 1921. Após a recusa de Fischer de defender o título em 1975, a hegemonia de russos voltou e durou até o indiano Viswanathan Anand vencer o Mundial FIDE de 2000.
Em 1992, Fischer voltou a disputar um encontro contra Boris Spassky. Mesmo Fischer estando 20 anos afastado, enquanto Spassky permaneceu ativo durante todo este tempo, Fischer venceu com relativa facilidade e introduziu diversas novidades teóricas.
Fischer foi preso no Japão e lutou contra sua extradição para os Estados Unidos por quase um ano. AIslândia ofereceu cidadania a Fischer, tendo ele aceitado. Livre então pela cidadania islandesa, Fischer seguiu viagem para a Islândia chegando no dia 23 de março de 2005.
Em eleição feita pelo principal periódico internacional de xadrez, o Sahovski Informator, Fischer foi considerado pelos grandes mestres como o melhor enxadrista do século XX, à frente de Kasparov.
Fischer foi o único enxadrista a vencer por 6×0 dois matches no Torneio de Candidatos e também o único a jamais defender o título. Tinha memória extraordinária, capaz de memorizar mais de 20 partidas relâmpago consecutivas. Em www.surfonby.com consta QI = 187. Outras fontes indicam 184 e 181.
Repertório de aberturas
- Com as brancas, adepto da Abertura do Peão do Rei, a qual defendia com a seguinte citação: Best by test.
- De negras, contra e4, utilizava a Defesa Siciliana, variante Najdorf.
- De negras, contra d4, c4 ou Cf3, jogou várias, a principal foi a Defesa Índia do Rei, depois a Grünfeld, dentre outras Defesas Índias.
- “Não sou um computador como os outros querem pensar. Botvinnik disse uma vez que calculo melhor que os demais, que sou uma máquina, um homem prodígio e também fui uma criança prodígio. Aqui não há prodígio algum. Sou meramente um homem, mas um homem extraordinário. Estudo e aprendo cada dia mais e mais, um dia hão de ser meus o carro mais caro e a casa mais bonita. Na América não há ninguém que possa comparar-se comigo. Fui campeão nacional 7 vezes o que começa a ser fatigante. Aos 14 anos fui campeão nacional, com 16 “grande mestre”, com 27 anos sou o melhor do mundo e com 28 serei declarado oficialmente campeão mundial. Meu objetivo é que ninguém no planeta saiba “mexer as peças” melhor do que eu!” Robert James (Bobby) Fischer, 1971.
- “No final dos anos 1990 surgiu no ICC (Internet Chess Club) um jogador anônimo que superou muitos dos melhores jogadores do mundo em jogos relâmpago de 3 minutos, e rapidamente se disseminaram os boatos de que este jogador poderia ser Bobby Fischer. Nada ficou comprovado e até hoje não se sabe quem foi este jogador, mas um episódio envolvendo o vice-campeão mundial Nigel Short foi bastante marcante. Short havia sido informado sobre estas “aparições”, mas não as levava a sério, até que em certa ocasião foi convidado por um guest para uma partida. Ele aceitou e o guest começou a jogar lances exóticos e passear com o Rei pela frente dos Peões logo nos primeiros lances. Porém, repentinamente, depois de intencionalmente ter degradado muito a própria posição, o guest passou a jogar lances fortíssimos e o venceu. Jogaram várias outras partidas, e em todas elas o guest passeava com o Rei, deteriorava a própria posição, e depois começava a jogar ‘para valer’ e vencia. Ao relatar o episódio, Short apresenta vários motivos para ter concluído que de fato foi Fischer quem o venceu daquela maneira. Short comentou que há alguns meses ele havia empatado em 12×12 um match relâmpago contra Kasparov, portanto não havia muitas pessoas no mundo que pudessem vencê-lo por 7×0 ou algo assim, sobretudo iniciando o jogo com handcap de roque e vários lances a mais, aliás, provavelmente só uma pessoa poderia ter feito isso: Bobby Fischer.”