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'Bobby Fischer Against the World' is a documentary feature exploring the tragic and bizarre life of the late chess master Bobby Fischer. The drama of Bobby Fischer's career was undeniable, from his troubled childhood, to his rock star status as World Champion and Cold War icon, to his life as a fugitive on the run. This film explores one of the most infamous and mysterious characters of the 20th century. Written by
As a friend of Bobby Fischer for almost 20 years I am in an unusual position to critique this documentary. Let me say at the beginning that I think it is a brilliant work. Even so I am deeply troubled by the complete omission of three people who were as close to Bobby as any one who appears in the film, and probably closer. The three are Jack and Ethel Collins, and William Lombardy.
Bobby cut his teeth, as it were, at the home of the Collins's, spending an inordinate amount of spare time with them as a young child. In their home, he learned from Jack -- a New York State Champion, an editor of "Modern Chess Openings," (America's leading précis on opening play), a respected Correspondence Chess player, and the dean of American Chess Teachers -- and he received needed motherly sustenance from Jack's sister Ethel.
The Rev. William Lombardy was Fischer's "second" in Reykjavik. It is he who fought the battles for Bobby with the administrators and the arbiters. By his doing so, Bobby could stay somewhat in the background getting his needed rest. The tension and responsibilities lay on the broad shoulders of the Rev. Lombardy, who did a magnificent job on the front lines acting for the Mercurial Mr. Fischer. The full story of Bobby Fischer cannot be adequately told without these three Fischer companions making some contribution to his film life.
Given these three omissions one has the right to ask why Susan Polgar is represented as a Fischer expert. She was but three years old when the Fischer-Spassky match was played, and though she may have had later social connection with him, it is wrong to present her in the role she plays.
One can wonder too how Sam Sloan was chosen to give his views of Fischer. His knowledge of Fischer is a distant one at best.
Plaudits, though, are due for the in-depth interviews of Larry Evans and Tony Saidy, two who knew Bobby well. The same may be said of Asa Hofmann, to this day a legend in New York chess circles.
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