File image of Viswanathan Anand (TOI photo)
KOLKATA: Former World champion Bobby Fischer remains one of the most enigmatic characters that world chess has ever produced. India’s first Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand had the opportunity of meeting the eccentric genius in 2006, a couple of years before the US-born player passed away.
“I remember playing a blitz event at Reykjavik in Iceland,” Anand said during a conversation with GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly on his YouTube show. However, the India No. 1 player said he himself did not make an effort to meet Fischer.
“It was Iceland GM Helgi Olafsson who asked me if I would like to meet Fischer, which obviously you don’t decline,” Anand stated.
Fisher settled down at Reykjavik after being granted an Icelandic passport and citizenship but kept out of public eyes mostly.
Accordingly Helgi picked both Anand and his wife Aruna and then Fischer for dinner at a local restaurant.
“We did not go to Fischer’s place. Instead Helgi parked the car at a distance from Fischer’s apartment and called him up as he joined us soon,” Anand said.
Fischer, who beat Russian Boris Soassky in arguably the greatest match in chess in the 1972 World championship match, by then had gone through a lot in life moving out from the USA and Japan.
“Fischer told me how he used to get into a bus in a terminus and travel along the whole route and return to that same terminus. He claimed that way he got to see the whole city better,” Anand stated.
But what amazed the Indian couple was that Fischer asked for some Indian pain balm from them.
“He searched for that particular pain balm in all cities that he visited,” Anand said.
“He (Fischer) even asked me if I could send him some (balm) and took our address, saying perhaps he would visit us someday,” Aruna, who found Fischer to be a charismatic personality, added.
However, Anand did not get a chance to play with Fischer, although they analysed some games on the magnetic chess set that Fischer was carrying with him till the dinner was served.
The two greats did exchange some thoughts on chess as Fischer felt that the computer was killing creativity, to which Anand also agreed.
“But Fischer seemed still to be worried that the CIA was following him,” Anand stated.