Yes he was an anti-American, anti-semitic, asshole. But the man did things that few have accomplished. Not the least of which was dominating the chess world in a time where the Russians were trained from birth and America was a chess backwater. I don’t know much about chess — I’ve just picked up the game — but his antics were both legendary and fascinating:

“When I was a kid, I’d go to the Marshall [Chess Club] early in the morning, and Fischer would be there. There was a cabinet of filed games from the 19th century, thousands of games that someone, maybe a lot of people, had put on index cards and diagrammed by hand, and Fischer would be playing them, one at a time. I couldn’t understand why he was doing it. These were games using discarded ideas — the King’s Gambit and so on.”

The King’s Gambit — an opening strategy in which White sacrifices a kingside pawn to get a quick attack — had long been dismissed as too risky and romantic, seductive only to the blindly attack-minded.

Bobby Fischer, along with his contemporaries, favored other strategies, known by names like the Sicilian Defense (the epitome of a sharp counterattack by Black) or the Ruy Lopez (a slowly building game of maneuver for White). “But Fischer’s argument was that the old ideas were not necessarily bad ideas,” Mr. Pandolfini said. “They had merely fallen out of favor, and by injecting new thinking into an old idea, you created state-of-the-art logic.”

New York Times Obit.

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