We opened a group meeting at work today with the classic icebreaker "Two truths and a lie." In TTL everyone in the class writes down two obscure truths about themselves along with a single lie, and hands them in to the instructor on a folded sheet of paper. The instructor then selects a sheet at random, reads the "3 truths" and the class has to guess 1) who they apply to, and 2) which one is the falsehood.
I have a great fun truth for the game that runs like this:
I once won a chess tournament, playing blindfolded, and then didn't go on a date for 3 whole years!
This is a true story -- I was a terrific chess player and really did once win a tournament playing blindfolded in the town I grew up in. I also really did NOT go on a date for the 3 years that followed -- but that was OK, not because I was hopelessly geeky but because I was only 13 years old when I won, blindfolded.
My skills were in part the product of the man above, who would have celebrated his 67th birthday today. Bobby Fischer was the greatest American chess player ever -- maybe the greatest chess player ever, period. He won the World Chess Championship back in the Cold-Warry summer of 1972, and made the game of chess as much a sensation as chess could be back then.
I played chess all the time because Fischer was a sensation, and you could find people to play against easily back then. I played blindfolded because I'd read about historical American champion Paul Morphy, who was said to have been a great blindfold player by age 12. I was 13, and how hard could it be? It really wasn't that hard, and my mental images of board positions weren't blurred by my opponents having to recite their every move to me.
That was a fun time -- Fischer - Spassky taught a generation of American kids to spell "Reykjavik," and books like Fisher's My 60 Memorable Games gave my dad and me hours of fun -- playing each other and playing the classics. For me Fischer's most memorable game is his Game of the Century -- a breathtaking classic by a 13 year old boy against one of the strongest masters of his day.
It's a fine line between brilliance and madness, and the eccentric Fischer crossed over and back freely between his triumph in 1972 and his death in 2008. His gifts were wondrous games that we can still enjoy even today -- his birthday (born 1943).
Happy Birthday, Bobby Fischer.
The Game of the Century (scorecard)