23 February 2016

The Real Bobby Fischer?

The chain of events started with a Video Friday post, Revisionist Chess History (October 2015; 'Tobey Maguire as Chess Player Bobby Fischer in "Pawn Sacrifice"'), where Maguire said, 'It seems [Fischer] was paranoid, delusional.' I traced this thought to The Ponterotto Connection (November 2015), where I ran into a dead end, because 'I haven't seen the movie yet and I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to see it soon.'

Thanks to a post on a well known chess blog, Toby Maguire as Bobby Fischer (January 2016; kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com), I discovered that the film was available on Youtube and was able to watch it once before it was removed, presumably for copyright reasons. The film was much as I expected -- great entertainment, but weak on chess history and heavy on the 'Fischer as madman' theme. I wanted to do a longer review, but this will have to wait until I get another chance to see it.

The film reminded me of another controversial work about Fischer, the much-maligned 'Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World' by Brad Darrach. I first discussed Darrach in Odds and Ends (December 2010), and returned to him more recently in That's Definitely Bobby! (September 2015). Re-reading his book was a pleasure and this time I took copious notes. It's not as much about the 1972 Fischer - Spassky title match, as it is about convincing Fischer to play the match.

While I was studying the book I was reminded of the many press photos that appeared in the news before, during, and after the 1972 match. I gathered as many of these as I could find and started to sort them. I found close to 100, of which 30 are shown in the following composite photo.

Many of these are duplicates -- for example the last photos in the third and fourth rows -- but they provide an overview of the key events around the match. How to pull all of this info together: the Maguire film, the Darrach book, and the press photos?

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