I learned chess when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Rather, I had some others I went to school with at that time show me how to play, and later learned from some library books that they had taught me wrong. No harm done, though.
Early on, I came on a book or two of chess history, and found in it things about people with such strange names as Alekhine, Capablance, Petrosian, Morphy. Some of those names, I'm still not certain how to pronouce correctly, like Morphy, and he was even an American player--is it like the word 'morph' with the added 'y' sound, or like the more common name Murphy?
I don't recall paying much attention to Fischer until I started playing in local tournaments after high school. I knew of him, I know, but I don't remember him really standing out. Most of the books I had or had access to were pretty old, so I was a bit more familiar with older players.
But once one gets into chess competition, one can see how much of a shadow, for good and bad, Fischer has had over US chess. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that chess in the States is always looking back to him, to 1972, to Iceland.
US chess looks again to Iceland, where Fischer has been delivered the checkmate no man can escape.
What do we make of him? Chess prodigy? World Champion? Demanding? Bizarre behavior? Hate-filled? Mad? Pitiful?
I don't know.
I have no eulogy, I never met him, didn't know him, and maybe I'm glad of that.
There is only a sadness, a sense of not so much of loss as of waste.
It might almost have been better if he had never touched a chess piece, except that's placing the blame where it shouldn't go--on the game, and not on the man. And it is there that the responsibility ends.
His story is now done, at least as far as his life on this earth goes.
I know that at one time, in the mid-60s, Fischer had some spiritual inclinations, and was for a while a part of Herbert Armstrong's cult. He left it, I know, though I do not know if he went into anything else. His rantings and opinions in the last few years give little to build hope on.
But I am not his final judge, only God is. I can offer no other hope then this, that God is just, and knows all about his life, and whether he may have turned to Christ in faith at some time.