John Sharples
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Red, black, white, and blue
American monsters
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This chapter considers the cultural images of Bobby Fischer, the American-born world chess champion. It analyses the myriad ways in which the cultural 'Bobby Fischer' was represented before his World Championship victory. The chapter examines Fischer's life from his appearance as a prodigy to just before his 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky to demonstrate how competing priorities and demands shaped his cultural image. This chapter prioritises Fischer's image as a literary figure, a haunting figure, a historical figure and a distant figure. The early descriptions of Fischer recall the discussions of chess prodigies as players possessing the qualities associated with advanced mental abilities, but accompanied by physical and, perhaps, emotional limitations. Fischer was, in these cultural representations, subhuman, everyday human and supernatural transhuman. Such notions highlight the way that Fischer can be seen in terms of the concept of the monster.

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A cultural history of chess-players

Minds, machines, and monsters


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