November 28, 2011

Bobby Fischer against the world

I don't know how come I 'succeeded' to see the absolutely wonderful HBO documentary on Bobby Fischer's life only a while ago. I should have watched it immediately when it appeared on the market. Anyway, later is better than never and I strongly recommend it!

"Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011) is mainly about the psychology of a troubled mind. But it's also a sweet little slice of history. It touches on the Cold War rivalry between the Soviets and America, where America's David takes on the Soviet Goliath in the storied 1972 Reykjavík match between Fischer and Boris Spassky." 
Do crazy men play chess, or does chess make men crazy? 

"Chess is for crazy people"- makes sense, says Maxime Vachier Lagrave in a previous New In Chess; as interesting as it might sound, this is not the reality. I assume that when Maxime is saying this, he's giving the term 'crazy' a positive connotation. But the result instead, might be exactly the opposite. Words have a stronger suggesting power when written. Undressed of any other nuances, which are usually added by the voice tone, gestures, eyes,  they deliver the pure essence of what that particular word means. To be honest, I can say that I am guilty myself a bit, to send the same message of a 'special' person. To be a chess player, an artist, nobody understanding completely your fascinating inner side – that's by far more interesting than conformism.

I don't know if we can thank Freud for the notion that neurosis is helpful to a chess player, for more beautiful games, but that notion does not accord with my own experiences. Freud was wrong. Success in chess is directly proportional with sanity. The best and most successful players are some of the sanest people you'll ever meet.
In other professions, because there are set rules of workplace conduct, many dysfunctional people can get by. In chess, with all the freedom, a lack of sane, self discipline, is particularly destructive.

About the exceptions, take a Fischer for example: 'craziness' can also manifest itself as charisma, which is helpful to one's success.
I guess my personal opinion is: thank goodness for those who don't quite fit in with social norms, who may have trouble marketing themselves, who may be interpersonally difficult. They provide variety and interest in my life and often make such an interesting work!


  1. I want to see it as well, it looks very interesting!

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