Lessons From Bobby Fischer

It was interesting to watch the BBC Documentary last night, Bobby Fischer: Genius and Madman. There was a clear error at the end in the Fischer did NOT write Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. As for the rest it was nice for the footage and interesting interviews, but what does Fischer have to offer the chess improver?

His number one lesson must surely be that of dedication. Fischer invested a tremendous amount of effort into his study of the game, far more than his Russian rivals. Fischer also showed an incredible knowledge of chess history, as evinced by his admiration for and knowledge of Wilhelm Steinitz.

Another interesting aspect is Fischer’s view of the importance of physical fitness, some of the footage showing him doing some exercises together with an interview of his personal trainer. I would take issue with the idea that external strength and ‘fitness’ has value compared with an improvement in the nervous system that can be achieved by chi kung, but Fischer evidently had a belief in a mind-body connection.

As for the many controversial aspects of Fischer’s life they have little value for genuine students of the game. So let’s not waste our time on these sad events and focus instead on his brilliant contributions.