Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Garry Kasparov visits Bobby Fischer's grave

Bobby Fischer's victory over Boris Spassky in their 1972 match in Reykjavik put chess on the front pages of the world's newspapers. And, though Spassky was always his own man, the contest was seen as a symbol of the Cold War.

Fischer never defended his title, and his life was to become a long descent into paranoia. He and Spassky played a second match 20 years after their first - Fischer won this too, but neither player was the force he had been,

The match was played in the short-lived Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was under United Nations sporting sanctions. For this reason, the United States issued a warrant for Fischer arrest. He was never to return there.

Eventually it was Iceland that stepped in to offer Fischer asylum, in both senses of the word. He died there in 2008.

This film shows a later world champion, Garry Kasparov. visiting Fischer's grave. 

Writing this, I realise that these two players represent two strikingly different kinds of chess genius. 

Fischer's play was so clear and logical that he made you feel that you could play that way too, whereas Kasparov's brilliant sacrifices seemed to come out of a clear blue sky. You had to play over his games more than once to work out what had happened.

Kasparov held the world title for 15 years, which is one reason I rank him above Fischer. But I wonder if their two different kinds of genius can be found in other fields - the arts as well as sport?

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