Shelby Lyman on Chess: An Engaging Teacher
Sunday, November 29, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, November 29, 2015)
As we have discussed before, Bobby Fischer had a natural inclination to explain and teach.
His columns in the magazine Boys’ Life during the ’60s showed the same concern for detail and precision that he had for everything else in his life.
His level of engagement with his readers was impressive.
“When I play,” he wrote, “I try to keep my mind totally on the game. … No one’s interested in excuses if I lose.
“Many people who play chess are using only a fraction of their mind, and the rest of their mind is off wandering somewhere.”
Fischer was objective and appreciative in his assessment of other players — something that is absolutely necessary for success in any competitive endeavor.
He drew on this ability in his October 1968 column, when he called attention to a talented 16-year-old, Ken Rogoff, who had recently won the U.S. Junior Championship.
Rogoff had been playing only two years, an example, said Fischer, of how “by applying yourself, as Ken did, you can become a fine player in a relatively short time, too.”
Shortly, after gaining the grandmaster title, Rogoff swapped chess for an illustrious career in economics.
Often in the news, he is today a distinguished professor at Harvard University.
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