In late breaking news this morning, American World Chess Champion, Bobby Fischer, has died in a Reykjavik hospital, announced by his spokesman Gardar Sverrisson. According to the latest news reports at the time I am writing this, he died of an unspecified illness.
I never met Bobby Fischer, but his 60 Memorable Games was one of the two first chess books I ever owned and studied.
In later years, his greatness at the game of chess sadly became overshadowed by his possible mental illness and anti-Semitic rants. I remember talking to Bruce Pandolfini about the anti-Semitic statements once (Fischer had been saying those types of things for several years, apparently), Bruce told me that it probably came from his first chess coach who himself was anti-Semitic.
However, when it comes to the game of chess, his contributions are incalculable. As the last American World Chess Champion (Paul Morphy -- who was unofficially considered World Champion -- was the only other American that history books record as having the title), Fischer's image looms large over the American chess culture.
Fortunately, Gata Kamsky, who will be playing for the World Chess Championship later this year, may bring the title back to the U.S.
Perhaps American chess players will soon be able to say: "The king is dead, long live the king."