Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer was arrested in Japan on Tuesday. I used to play a lot of chess. That was pretty much all I did in high school and the first year or so of college. Bobby Fischer won the world championship in ’72 (I think) when I was very much into the game. I feel a fair amount of attachment to him for what he did for chess. It makes me sad to read stuff like the following:
Mr. Fischer’s legal troubles date back to 1992 when he emerged from hiding to play a highly publicized match against Russian Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia, then at war with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mr. Fischer won the competition, earning a prize of more than $3 million, but he was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury for violating United Nations sanctions against Yugoslavia by playing the match there.
“I think the U.S. is not going to exist much longer,” Mr. Fischer said. “I think everybody is going to be surprised at just how soon the U.S. collapses and the U.S. becomes history.”
In other such interviews, Mr. Fischer has praised the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Barb and I were talking the other day about how famous people are often strange. She was reading a book on John Lennon and asked, “Does becoming famous make people strange or is it that only strange people become famous?” My answer was, “I don’t know. But my hypothesis is that in order to be famous most people will have to be ‘different’ in some way. Smarter, greater motivation, extrodinary talent, something like that. Whatever it is that made them different may also have a tendency to make them strange. And of course there are a fair number of examples of people that appear to be ‘nice’ and manage to handle fame fairly well. But you are correct, it does seem like there is some sort of correlation.”
Bobby Fischer is possibly the greatest chess player that has ever lived and it’s possible that whatever it was that made him such a good player also made him more than a little bit strange.