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April 17, 2005

Bobby Fischer

I originally planned on writing about plagiarism problems, but I feel the need to push that back at least a post after seeing a relatively long piece on Sportscenter tonight. The report was by none other than Jeremy Schaap, son of the late Dick Schaap, who had a long relationship with the chess master Bobby Fischer.

Bobby Fischer, born in 1943, was a talented young man, having become a grand chessmaster at the age of 15; at the time, the youngest person to ever acheive the highest status. Jeremy Schaap reported that he had an IQ of 180, the same as Albert Einstein. This might seem questionable; at the age of 12, Fischer had to be guided home by Dick Schaap because he did not know how to get there on his own. As early as 1962, he was known to make sexist and anti-Semitic remarks, and his personal problems led him to the Worldwide Church of God. Don't be misguided, this was hardly a mainstream church. This cult believed the US would fall in World War III, starting in 1972, to the United States of Europe, which would be dominated by Germany and inspired by the Antichrist himself, the Pope of Rome. Needless to say, these events did not happen and Fischer became further disillusioned.

Though anti-semitic, Fischer had many Jewish ties. The Worldwide Church had celebrated many of the Jewish holy days. Dick Schaap was Jewish, and for a long time, very close to Fischer; this changed as Fischer grew more extreme, to the point where Dick Schaap said that Fischer did not have "a sane bone in his body." Even Fischer's own mother was a Jew. Yet, with the deception by the Worldwide Church, Fischer's distrust in Jews grew to the point where he denied the occurence of the Holocaust and denied his mother's Jewish roots (though he had admitted them in an earlier interview). This was very difficult for Jeremy Schaap, who went to Iceland a few weeks ago to find an answer; Fischer continued his anti-semitic ways, calling Jeremy's father "a typical Jewish snake." Jeremy Schaap left, dismayed, after telling Fischer that he found little reason to argue with the comment his father had made so many years before.

Fischer's criticisms went beyond the state of Israel. He was very anti-American after he went to Yugoslavia to play chess against Anatoly Karpov in the "world championship". At the time, this trip was illegal due to UN sanctions, and Fischer has remained a fugitive from US law, after he failed to return. He has popped up in many nations, usually making appearances on radio shows to speak out against America. Shortly after the events of 9/11, he took pride in one of these shows of the attacks, not hesitating to use the word f*** multiple times.

A few months ago, he was jailed in Japan, but rather than being extradited to the US, he was given a free pass to Iceland, who offered him full citizenship. This citizenship exempts him from extradition, even given the treaty that the United States has with Iceland in extraditing criminals. After his exchange with Jeremy Schaap, Fischer now has to deal with hate crime charges.

Fischer is a tragic case, having much wasted potential. Sadly, he was lacking in social abilities and seemed open to some odd ideas, which almost always turned against him. Still, Fischer made these decisions on his own; he is responsible for his actions. Iceland should revoke his citizenship and honor their extradition agreement. Fischer has made a lot of mistakes in his lifetime, and it is time he owned up to them.

Sources: Jeremy Schaap, Sportscenter, ESPN, 4/18/05
(Excuse the non-MLA format used here, you can safely assume that all the information used here, excepting in my opinion in the final paragraph, was was found in one of these two sources).