Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dick Cavett’s remembrances of Bobby Fischer

In “Was it only a game?”, Dick Cavett gives us some insight into, and pays tribute to, the deeply troubled genius that was Bobby Fischer. Here are three excerpts:

It must seem strange to people too young to remember that there was once a chess champion — of all things — who became arguably the most famous celebrity on earth. And that his long-anticipated match against the reigning Russian champion, Boris Spassky, was broadcast and watched worldwide as if it were the Super Bowl, except that chess drew a much bigger audience.


At one point I asked him what, in terms of thrills, the chess equivalent might be of, say, hitting a home run. His answer: “I like the moment when I break a man’s ego.” There was a trace of a chill in his laughter.


I’m surprised in writing this how much emotion there still is in the subject for me. There’s no story like it: genius kid, precocious, plunged into triumphant victory, money and world fame — no one under 30 should be subjected to fame — then gradual decline into raving lunatic. “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

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