FISCHER, THE INACCESSBLE MYTH
In 1993 Ediciones Eseuve (publishers of ‘Revista Internacional de Ajedrez’) published the three volumes of Chess Stars series on BOBBY FISCHER, with all his games annotated. This was the prologue to the third and last volume (1968-1992):
I’m the best player in the world
and I’m here to prove it.
The words of the quotation, pronounced in Buenos Aires on the eve of his match with Petrosian, two decades later still seem to reflect the deep conviction with which Bobby Fischer faces all his fights on the chessboard.
With Fischer’s appearance on the stage, chess started to win the battle of reality. ‘A providential man’, as Matanovic would remark. While it is true that, from the happy twenties onwards, our game was no longe monopolized by the decadent social strata, the fact is that its genuine popularization would only become tangible through the successes of a distant and introvert boy from Brooklyn, each of his gestures becoming part of history as he passed by.
Although after his withdrawal from the Sousse Interzonal Fischer was severly criticized in certain sectors of the chess world, many others understood him. In the New York Times, Al Horowitz reflected the opinion of the majority when he wrote: ‘We feel that (Fischer) is the world’s best player and that nobody ever showed his playing capacities. We can only hope, therefore, that he will return to the competition.’ His chance came at the Majorca Interzonal, with the eyes of all the world’s chess fans fixed on him. His victory is so conclusive that nobody puts it in doubt, except Fischer himself, as he declares with a disarming honesty: ‘I am satisfied with my result, though not with my play.’ Shortly before he had conclusively beaten Petrosian (3-1) during the Math of the Century, later becoming the winner of the unofficial Blitz World Championship, with an advantage of 4,5 points on Tal, and in front of great specialists of the modality. A golden year, summed up by Isaac Kashdan as follows: ‘The successes obtainedby Fischer in 1970 were the most outstanding ever achieved by any chess player of our times.’ Yet, he still had not witnessed his demonstrations at the expense of Taimanov and Larsen.
As the match with Taimanov approached, the USSR Sports Committee set up several meetings with experts to establish a plan of action. At these meetings, the usual euphemisms and the mention of Fischer’s would-be weak points contrast with Spassky’s devastating sincerity: ‘All I know is that we should not tell Taimanov the truth about the real strength of Fischer.’
In both matches, extremely hard encounters took place in the first games, but soon the resistance of both masters broke down when faced to the strong psychological & technical weapons showed by Fischer. Sovietski Sport displays Larsen’s defeat in front page with this painful statement: ‘A MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED!’ GM Robert Byrne wrote in the press: ‘I fail to understand how such a giant of the chessboard as Larsen manages to lose six games in a row.’
1972, August 31st, the 21st game of Reykjavik is adjourned. On September 1st, Spassky declares to a journalist: ‘Bobby is the new champion. Now I want to have a walk andn breathe some fresh air.’ The state of perplexity in which the Soviet chess world became immersed is expressed by GM Averbaj: ‘We had lost the world title and we felt very much confused.’
The dissident world championship revenge match also starts on a September 1st. We are in 1992 annd Fischer seems to be trying to abolish time. At the end of the match, the figures of the encounter reflect a strange harmony: thirty games, fifteen of which with definition. Ten victories for Fischer, five for Spassky. ‘The Invisible Man’, ‘The Legend’, ‘The Genius from Pasadena’, the mass media applaud the return of history’s most widely admired chess player. Others try to sketch out the impossible portrait of Robert James Fischer. The mystery of these twenty years, an unusual event, has not been sufficient to forget the champion. The chess fans devour all his games and await his new performances with anxiety. Nobody knows exactly what will happen with Fischer. Yet the myth will never be forgotten.