The site has a large number of articles about chess, some of which mention chess960. Many of the articles are copies of material available elsewhere on the web. One article I had seen long ago, then forgotten, is Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame, where the original by Rene Chun is subtitled Paranoia, hubris, and hatred -- the unraveling of the greatest chess player ever (theatlantic.com, December 2002). The portion covering the birth of chess960 takes seven paragraphs, which I'll quote in entirety. It ties together a number of events which I've discussed in separate posts on this blog and introduces a few new angles.
Fischer stayed in Yugoslavia after the rematch [Spassky 1992] , and began promoting what he called Fischer Random Chess -- a tweaked version of shuffle chess, in which both players' back-row pieces are arranged according to the same random shuffle before play begins. Although not revolutionary, the premise of FRC is compelling: with 960 different starting positions, opening theory becomes obsolete, and the strongest player -- not necessarily the player who has memorized more strategies or has the most expensive chess-analysis software -- is assured victory.
Fischer envisioned FRC as a means of democratizing chess and as a lucrative business venture -- and as an easy way to reinsert himself into the world of competitive chess without having to immerse himself in opening theory. He had designed and patented two electronic devices that he hoped to sell to FRC enthusiasts: a clock for timing games, and a pyramid-shaped "shuffler" to determine the starting positions. A 1996 press release described the two instruments as "essential to playing according to the new rules for the game of chess." Fischer desperately wanted the Tokyo-based watch company Seiko to manufacture his FRC products but couldn't generate interest.
Worse than Seiko's snub was the loss of Zita [Rajcsanyi]. After less than a year she left Fischer and, against his protestations, eventually wrote a book that chronicled their relationship. After the book's release he accused Zita of being a spy hired by the Jews to lure him out of retirement.
Following the breakup Fischer roamed around Central Europe for several years. He ended up being befriended by Susan and Judit Polgar, two young Hungarian Jews who were at the time the Venus and Serena Williams of the chess world. "I first met Bobby with my family," Susan recalls. "I told him rather than spending the rest of his life hiding ... he should move to Budapest, where there are a lot of chess players."
Fischer did, and was welcomed as a guest in the Polgar household. He appears to have behaved himself. "I remember happy times in the kitchen cutting mushrooms," Susan says. "He's very normal in that sense, very pleasant." Although Fischer refused to play classic chess, he graciously helped the Polgar sisters with their games. When he wasn't sharing his expert analysis with them, he was playing FRC games against them. He was astounded at how accomplished the sisters were. Seeing that he was impressed by the Polgars' play, a friend of Fischer's suggested a publicized match to promote FRC. Fischer agreed.
Fischer was well aware that a high-stakes match pitting the game's strongest male player (in his own mind, anyway) against Judit Polgar, the game's strongest female player (now ranked in the top ten in the world), would interest the media. But the battle-of-the-sexes extravaganza was not to be. "The Jewish-nonsense stuff caused a problem between Bobby and the girls' father," says a Fischer confidant. "One day Bobby just changed his mind. He said, 'No, they're Jewish!' He just couldn't handle it and walked away."
Would Fischer be able to beat a top grand master in an FRC match today? Doubtful. He played numerous FRC games with Susan, who concedes that the results were "mixed." She isn't optimistic about the prospect of a Fischer comeback either. "He's not that young anymore," she says.
What's new here? First there is the statement that 'Zita [...] eventually wrote a book that chronicled their relationship'. This might shed additional insight into Fischer's ideas for random chess, but it turns out it isn't true. In Responses to and by Rene Chun for her article Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame (bobbyfischer.net), Rene Chun informs,
Petra Dautov was indeed the woman who published a memoir chronicling her relationship with Bobby Fischer. I stand corrected.
Then there is the statement that
[Fischer] had designed and patented two electronic devices that he hoped to sell to FRC enthusiasts: a clock for timing games, and a pyramid-shaped "shuffler" to determine the starting positions. A 1996 press release described the two instruments as "essential to playing according to the new rules for the game of chess." Fischer desperately wanted the Tokyo-based watch company Seiko to manufacture his FRC products but couldn't generate interest.
This sounds like confusion about two ideas: the clock and the shuffler. The clock, patent no.4884255 on my page Chess Patents, has been widely adopted for traditional chess and I discussed it on 1992 Fischer - Spassky Rematch : Highlights.
The Fischer chess clock: The match was the first chess event to use the "Bobby Fischer chess clock". The clock had been patented by Fischer in the U.S. in 1989, but a working model had never been constructed. A clock was made for the event in a working time of five days.
As for the shuffler, I incorporated a (the?) 1996 press release in a post titled Fischer Announces Fischerandom, where a 'Fischerandom Chess Computerized Shuffler' is mentioned. A search on '"essential to playing according to the new rules for the game of chess"' returns only the quote by Rene Chun. It is not in the 1996 press release. In fact, there are many methods to determine a random chess960 start position and most of them require no technology, pyramid-shaped or otherwise.
Re the Polgar connection, this is well established. I posted about it in Pictures of a Fischer Random Precursor.
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