Friday, April 14, 2006

"The Mad Genius of Bobby Fischer"

Last night at the Kenilworth Chess Club we watched a tape of the GSN documentary "The Mad Genius of Bobby Fischer" (which is part of their interesting series titled Anything to Win). Chessplayers were alerted to the program, which aired Sunday night, by several bloggers (including Susan Polgar, Mig, BCC Weblog, Delaware Chess Weblog, etc.) Thanks to club member John Moldovan for taping it.

I was not expecting much of the film and so was very impressed by the great range of archival footage (some of which I had not seen previously) and the very impressive interviews (including Shelby Lyman, Robert Byrne, Asa Hoffman, the former president of the Icelandic Chess Federation, and practically every Bobby Fischer biographer of record). They covered his entire story, from childhood to the present, touching on all the salient and crazy facts. They also did not shy away from some of Bobby's most troubling statements about the United States or "the Jews," and it was certainly an eye-opener for several Fischer fans in the audience who had never confronted his specific statements before (which are typically not broadcast in the American media). I was especially impressed that they interviewed a friend of his from the Worldwide Church of God, which shed some new light for me on that part of Bobby's troubled history. The only voice not represented was that of the Russians, which would have made a nice addition. But it is a very good short film (about 45 minutes total without commercials) and a great record of the testimony of many who participated in the events surrounding the 1972 match who may not be with us the next time somebody wants to make a Bobby Fischer documentary. It would be well worth keeping an eye out for when it is inevitably rebroacast.

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