13 December 2020

The Chess Boom of 50 Years Ago

Introducing last month's featured video on this blog, Queen's Gambit on the Tomatometer (November 2020), I wrote,

Given the current wave of Queen's Gambit Mania, I wasn't surprised to see that half of my picks on the short list for this month's video were also about the Netflix series titled 'The Queen's Gambit'.

I could have said exactly the same this month, but I'm sure that some chess old-timers are starting to experience Queen's Gambit Fatigue, along with a hint of deja-vu. Their next challenge will be to build on the current level of interest in chess.

The Bobby Fischer boom of 50 years ago was another chess phenomenon that eventually went nowhere, largely because there was no follow-up performance by Fischer. He came, he played, he enchanted the world with his charisma, and then he disappeared for his World Championship match in 1975. Here's a great clip showing Fischer as he was approaching his peak popularity.

Bobby Fischer Gives Dick Cavett A Chess Crash Course | The Dick Cavett Show (8:08) • '[Published on] Nov 9, 2020'

The description of the video says,

Ralph Nader and Sandy Duncan help Dick Cavett question American Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer who gives everyone a quick crash lesson on how to play chess and demonstrates his winning moves in his previous match against grandmaster Tigran Petrosian. • Date aired - January 4th 1972 - Bobby Fischer, Sandy Duncan and Ralph Nader

That date places the original broadcast between the 1970-72 Candidates Matches and the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match. This was Fischer's second appearance on the Dick Cavett Show. For his first appearance, see A Very Different Bobby Fischer (youtube.com).

How will 'The Queen's Gambit' be followed-up? Given today's short cycle time for viral concepts and social network memes, I bet we won't have to wait three years to find out.

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