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I did it my way

I recently finished reading a book by Frank Brady - "Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness". Growing up in the USSR and being a chess player myself (one who has a profound interest in the history of the game as well as the game itself) I knew quite a bit about Bobby Fischer to begin with. I have read a number of books on the subject: "Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine", "Bobby Fischer: The Career and Complete Games of the American World Chess Champion", "Garry Kasparov on Fischer: Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors, Part 4", "Russians versus Fischer", "744 Games Of Bobby Fischer", "Robert Fischer Life and Game"; and, of course, Fischer's own book - "My 60 Memorable Games". Add to that a number of references I picked up, over the years, from chess periodicals, newspapers and magazines, online articles, as well as memoirs of other prominent chess players and writers and you will see why I say that I found pretty much nothing new about Fischer in this book (with only exceptions being information on his late ordeals in Japan and Iceland). However, I still enjoyed reading it. The author's views provided me with yet another perspective on a very controversial figure which Fischer undoubtedly was.


Reading this book evoked a complex set of feelings - remembering some of the Fischer's games brought joy and admiration; going over his chess accomplishments on and off the board commanded respect; re-learning the facts of his troubled life and his fragile psyche led to profound sadness; and reaffirming some of his views on historical events, people, countries, religion, etc. enraged and disgusted.


Yes, 11th world chess champion - Robert James Fischer did not die a lonely pauper in a mental asylum as the 1st champion - Wilhelm Steinitz did, yet his entire life was filled with solitude and isolation and how can one not question his sanity when examining his erratic behavior and strange views?


His combative spirit and aggressive style, both so impressive on the board, bled into his off the board life in the strangest of ways, to quote from the book - "He was poised for battle against the chess establishment, the Union Bank of Switzerland, the Jews, the United States, Japan, Icelanders in general, the media, processed foods, Coca-Cola, noise, pollution, nuclear energy, and circumcision."


Another brilliant mind not fully realized and eventually wasted! And I don't mean just chess - after all, Fischer did reportedly have an IQ of 187, which puts him by some (admittedly subjective) estimations as number 8 on list of the ten greatest geniuses in history.


Surprisingly, after going over his hateful tirades about Russians, Jews, United States, etc.; over his views, which I vehemently oppose - I could find no ill feelings towards him in my heart. I could only pity him and I felt deeply sadden, with a tiny (almost undetectable) hint of adulation. As I was nearing the end of the book, a song by Frank Sinatra - "My Way" kept looping in my head. One must admit that with all his faults Bobby lived his life true to his own convictions (however warped or sick) and he died the same way (distrustful of doctors, refusing treatment that could have prolonged his life). Sad, very sad. 


So, I finished and put down the book, found Sinatra's song on my MP3 player and listened to it for a while...
                      
      My Way
And now, the end is near, 
And so I face the final curtain. 
My friends, I'll say it clear; 
I'll state my case of which I'm certain. 


I've lived a life that's full - 
I've travelled each and every highway. 
And more, much more than this, 
I did it my way. 


Regrets? I've had a few, 
But then again, too few to mention. 
I did what I had to do 
And saw it through without exemption. 


I planned each charted course - 
Each careful step along the byway, 
And more, much more than this, 
I did it my way. 


Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, 
When I bit off more than I could chew, 
But through it all, when there was doubt, 
I ate it up and spit it out. 
I faced it all and I stood tall 
And did it my way. 


I've loved, I've laughed and cried, 
I've had my fill - my share of losing. 
But now, as tears subside, 
I find it all so amusing. 


To think I did all that, 
And may I say, not in a shy way - 
Oh no. Oh no, not me. 
I did it my way. 


For what is a man? What has he got? 
If not himself - Then he has naught. 
To say the things he truly feels 
And not the words of one who kneels. 
The record shows I took the blows 
And did it my way. 


Yes, it was my way.

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