The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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End Game

In my mind the most memorable quote from Garry Kasparov’s review of Bobby Fischer’s biography (in the The New York Review of Books) is this one: “The shades of color in real life often baffled Fischer, but he always saw very clearly in black and white.” Kasparov never played Fischer, but he knew him through his matches and from the bizarre things Bobby said and did after resigning his title in 1975. In his article Kasparov contends that when Fischer could not obtain the terms he demanded for the match against Karpov, in his perfectionism and fear of failure, he abandoned the title rather than face a strong opponent who was in his prime. The rest, of course, is history—Bobby’s ravings, his condemnation by the Bush administration, his arrest in Japan, and his seclusion in Iceland where he finally died after refusing treatment for his illness.

I have some experience of this myself.

Though extremely intelligent, my own father was not as brilliant as Bobby Fischer, but just as driven and nearly as mad. His obsessive paranoia touched every aspect of our lives in a way no one could possibly imagine unless you lived it yourself. He reduced my mother to abject slavery. I resisted. My antidote was avid nonconformity, unrestrained spontaneity, and an unquenchable desire to uncover the roots of his madness so I would not go there myself. That no one understands what I have overcome often makes me angry, but it is really of no importance. Not now. I am happy—happy with myself and what I have achieved. I am not my father.