Bobby Fischer died last week and was buried on Monday.
A chess grandmaster, he earned worldwide recognition when he beat Borris Spassky in 1972 to win the World Chess Championship. He was the first and only American to do so. His win was viewed in the USA as a decisive victory in the cold war with the USSR. Because of this and his chess-playing genius, his sometimes unpredictable actions were generally overlooked.
As a teenager, I read his monthly chess column in Boy’s Life magazine. I also latched onto the book, “How to Beat Bobby Fischer.” At the time, I looked up to him and was inspired by his accomplishments and world renown.
From this platform and a high level of notoriety, he could have supported any number of noteworthy activities or advocated worthwhile causes. Unfortunately, he chose not to.
With his refusal to defend his title in 1975, his bright star faded and his increasingly eccentric behavior became less tolerated.
He would disappear from public view for long periods of time, only to suddenly emerge to make anti-American jabs or spew forth perplexing tirades. Ultimately, he renounced his US citizenship and settled in Iceland, where he died at age 64.
In death, he has inspired me one last time. As a result of his poorly played endgame in the game of life, I am motivated even more to make sure that I end well, playing wisely and diligently to the very end. Who knows who might be looking at my example – and I don’t want to let them down.