Bobby Fischer — Good coverage in the West but Indian media buries death of the King of Chess


Chess had its roots in India, but it was Fischer who helped revive interest in the game in the country

I spent some time scouring the Net for coverage on the death of Bobby Fischer. It was well covered by the Western media, but newspapers and news portals in India (Rediff, Samachar, etc) did not live up to my expectations, obsessed as they are with cricket and glamour in the world of sports. I am disappointed that they did not find it fit to feature the news on page 1.

Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald carried quotes from Viswanathan Anand, something that the Indian newspapers missed.

The Telegraph had the best coverage among Indian newspapers, with a piece carrying some good quotes from Manuel Aaron, the only Indian player to have ever played against Fischer. It was at the 1962 Interzonal championship in Stockholm when Aaron lost to Fischer, the eventual winner of the title -- 

I remember Aaron talking about this at a function at the Tal Chess Club that I used to frequent in the 80s. Though he finished last at the Stockholm championship, he had some significant wins, including against one of the top grandmasters then, Hungarian Portisch. It was a year that also saw Aaron beat former world champion Max Euwe in a tournament.

Incidentally, I had beaten Aaron in a simultaneous display he gave in the 70s at the St. Mary’s Anglo-Indian High School where I studied. He played against 20 of us and I was the only one to win. I realize I am being immodest as a simultaneous win is hardly significant (cheap thrill!!), but remember he was India’s only International Master then. My win was featured in my school magazine and one evening when I went to the Tal Chess Club I was pleasantly surprised to find the report displayed at the notice board there. I thought that was a great gesture from Aaron, who was a source of great inspiration for all chess enthusiasts visiting the club that can take credit for grooming the country's best players, including Anand. 

Looking back, I do regret not having seriously pursued chess then. Those were times when chess could not have been taken as a career.

But then this post is not about me. Here is a pick of the stories on Fischer featured in the world media today.

Western Press

The Genius who Reinvented Chess:

Brilliant chess master, world-class eccentric:

Troubled Genius:

The Eccentric Genius: (The Sydney Morning Herald even had a quote from V Anand, but no Indian newspaper had it.

Indian press

Mozart of Chess is no More:

Fischer was fond of Indian Clothes: (quotes from Manuel Aaron)

He added colour to the chessboard: (a piece by Indian chess star Raghunandan Gokhale)

From American Idol to Paranoid Outcast

Fischer was ‘one of the greats’: Kasparov (not mentioned on page 1, and the brief report inside did not even have an Indian quote)

–G Joslin Vethakumar


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