Bobby Fischer, 64, former World Chess Champion passed away in Iceland today. Lots of people in the Philippines, some in Manila, more in Baguio City up north, remember the many years that Bobby Fischer spent here, punctuated by periodic public harangues on AM Talk Radio stations. Filipinos know what an utterly crazy and seriously insane being was Bobby Fischer.
Of course, when it came to chess, perhaps that was the necessary attribute of the genius he evinced as a practitioner, at least at his zenith. After all, it was Fischer who singlehandedly broke the Russian Bear Hug on the world chess championship in the 20th Century.
Bobby Fischer may yet be remembered for what I can only call Fischer's Last Theorem which has to do with perhaps the most intriguing question about the Game of Chess itself, which is this:
DOES WHITE HAVE A WINNING LINE?
Bobby Fischer reportedly believed that the game of chess can forcibly be won by the side that makes the first move:
I wonder if he meant this literally and technically, or was just being macho? Maybe Fischer's conjecture will someday be proved, like Fermat's Last Theorem.
But who or what will prove it?
Although chess playing computers like IBM's Deep Blue and Deep Thought are defeating human grandmasters and world champions, it is a source of human pride to know that even the most powerful of these machines cannot yet CONCEIVE of such a question as, "Does chess have a winning line?"
Or know why BOTH the question and its unknown answer are intrinsically interesting, significant and meaningful to the Carbon-based units who dream of mathematics, and are already birthing the next generation of computers.
We make the rules. We invent the games. We are safe as long as they can never plug themselves in, or learn to ask hard questions!