Monday, January 31, 2011

How Crazy was Fischer?

Frank Brady, founding editor of the US Chess Life magazine, has written a new book on Bobby Fischer entitled, "Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness". Here's Laura Miller's review of that book in Salon:

Just how crazy was Bobby Fischer? Those best qualified to judge, such as the psychiatrist friend who kept him company in his final days, insisted he was not schizophrenic or psychotic; he didn't hallucinate or lose touch with reality. However, he clearly wasn't mentally healthy. The intensity of his attention to chess was certainly compulsive, and it unbalanced his life in addition to making him one of the game's greatest players.

But Fischer's celebrity seems to have done him more damage than anything else. It fueled the grandiosity that lies at the heart of all paranoia and it turned him into an imperious diva who inflicted ridiculous demands -- that a hotel raise the level of his toilet seat by exactly 1 inch, for example, or that he be paid outlandish fees just to discuss the possibility of a high-profile match -- apparently for the sake of exercising arbitrary power.

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