64 squares: RIP Bobby Fischer.

Bobby Fischer has died at the age of 64. One year lived for each square on a chessboard. (Was he thinking about that?)

I wonder how he felt about machines taking over the game. Chess is now a “solved” problem in the sense that no human can win reliably against the machines anymore. Of course, it’s not “solved” in the sense of there being a machine that can always at least draw given the advantageous color (assumed to be white, but that doesn’t matter for these purposes). Probably Go will become machine-dominated within a few decades too, though so far it’s proven a tough nut to crack, which is somehow pleasing.

RIP, Bobby Fischer.


  1. Can’t say RIP for the man who was probably to chess what Ty Cobb was to baseball– for a time, the best there was.

    But also a miserable, tortured human being.

    We can’t help who impacts our lives, and when those that did pass on, I guess it’s reasonable to reflect.

    I had a lot of fun that summer of ’72; a lot of Americans did. It opened a new world to many of us, and it loomed large as a bloodless Cold War victory until it was surpassed by the “Miracle On Ice” in 1980.

    I thought the tone of “Searching For Bobby Fischer”, a really nice movie, hit it about right– Fischer after 1972 was so despicable, but so clearly mentally ill, that it was just….sad.

  2. (Are you a chessplayer, Tony?)

    Yeah, I’ve wanted to see that movie, or better yet, read the book. It’s hard to blame Fischer for being nuts… More disturbing is the thought that his obvious borderline insanity was somehow connected to his peculiar genius for chess; this seems somehow probable, though obviously hard to prove.

    FWIW, I read the print NYT obituary today, and it did mention that he was disappointed in the appearance of superhumanly strong chess programs: “He began railing to other chess players that computers had ruined the mystery of chess. …”.

  3. Recreational, at best– there are times tho that I’ve tried to get more into it- mostly on-line, which canbe frustrating — and the lure of the chess storefronts is great. The past few years I’ve toyed with running a chess tournament here in town.

    Am I a chess player–no. Was I in ’72, ’73’ 74– yeah, I’d say I was an extremely mediocre one! I remember playing a game by postcard with a kid from England once!

    I might have been a bit hasty and unfair with the “can’t say RIP’ opening– I think if his nonsense was truly born of his mental illness, I guess Rest in Peace is appropriate after all.

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