Bobby Fischer Against the World reviewed
“Chess doesn’t drive people mad: it keeps mad people sane,” the journalist and former British chess champion Bill Hartston once said. The documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World, currently being shown in cinemas around the country, does much to confirm his view.
Bobby Fischer Against the World tells the story of his World Championship match against Boris Spassky from the Soviet Union. Fischer won the title, but never played in an officially sanctioned match or tournament again.
But the film also tells the story of Fischer’s life before and after his match with Spassky. As a child Fischer did not know who his father was and had effectively separated from his mother by the time he was 16.
In 1975 Fischer was due to defend his world title against another Soviet, Anatoly Karpov. Even though the authorities met most of his far-reaching demands, he refused to take part and forfeited the World Championship.
The only serious chess Fischer played after that was a match against Spassky in 1992, when both players were much weaker than they had been 20 years before. This match was played in Yugoslavia during the civil war, in defiance of international sanctions. As a result was threatened with arrest in the United States if he ever returned there.
He was later detained over his immigration status in Japan, before being offered sanctuary in Iceland. He died there, the scene of his greatest triumph, in 2008.
Once he gave up serious chess in 1972 Fischer’s behaviour became increasingly strange He came to believe in conspiracy theories and made many anti-Semitic and anti-American statements. The day after 9/11 he was interviewed on a Philippine radio station and expressed approval of the atrocity.