Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bobby Fischer

I don’t know what the blogging equivalent of a moment of silence would be, but I’d like to make one for Bobby Fischer. Having passed yesterday,1/18/2008, the famed Fischer was a never-ending inspiration to logicians and chess enthusiasts like me. Where “inspiration” would fail to articulate what he meant to the world, “paragon” might better scratch the surface. He was enigmatic, dauntlessly passionate, and an icon of fragile, human Americana even beyond his time as an American citizen. Yes, the very notion of his passing ripples through the chess world like an earthquake of sadness and loss. To whatever degree he was the living embodiment of the art of chess, his death is all the more palpable, an unbeatable king laid down in resignation.

Yet, limiting Fischer’s 64 years to the mere 64 squares on a chess board is to rob the meaning that this particular life provided our sometimes forgetful and frequently fickle lot. To say that only chess masters, strategists, gamers, or mathematicians mourn his absence would unjustly frame his death as bleakly more untouchable than his life. Bobby Fischer was the proof, the PROOF that a mind ever set on perfecting even a particular aspect of conscious choice is one that functionally reaches distant, distant realms of human capacity. If any of us put half the mental energy into our marriages as Fischer did into chess, dysfunction would be eliminated from psychology’s bag of couplehood labels. If anyone put the certainty of concept to execution into their career the same way Fischer planned out not only his next game, but his next fifty games, all rewards of the American dream wouldn’t be far behind. Fischer was a master of refining infinite possibilities into a manageable, beneficial series of choices foreseen before such choices had even presented themselves. He wasn’t a psychic, a soothsayer, a magician, or an angel. Rather, the multitudes of future things to come were genuinely interesting enough to him in his present to study, to anticipate, and to be wholly involved with as if they were physically realities in the now. He made things happen, a simple person outrightly attacking the complex. He took much joy in the doing. Winning was to be like him and our plain, old losses made us marvel and wonder as to how Fischer did it.

It’s almost as if the reclusion Fischer experienced through much of life was aptly meant to prepare us for his absence in his death, to leave us with the feeling that somewhere, somewhere out there is a hidden champion we can aspire to equaling, to surpassing. Fischer may not have defined the win, but he unquestionably redefined the winner. With a game, perhaps one of the most trivial aspects of humanity, Fischer carved out an exemplary path from obscurity to titan, and then just as easily showed us that there was no difference between the two. It was as if to say, “Here America, this is how you do it.”

Now, it’s our move.

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