John Sharples
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Absence and presence in Reykjavik, Iceland, 1972
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This chapter presents the issues of absence and presence once more within the context of Bobby Fischer's 1972 victory. The selection of Reykjavik as the site of the contest was, unusually for World Championship chess, a matter of business, seemingly confirming Fischer's ability to suck all aspects of the performance into his virtuosic sphere. Fischer's uncultured image was a point of some contention, particularly when his mental faculties were frequently presented in the context of an athletic, physical training programme. Fischer and Boris Spassky's match took place in the Exhibition Hall of the Laugardalshöll Stadium. Fischer's actions during 1972, regardless of his Liberace aspirations, showed a desire to avoid the spotlight as much as to be under it. Chess performance positioned the chess-player body under the spotlight, making it appear as an exaggerated, hyper-sensitive site of cultural image-making and contestation.

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A cultural history of chess-players

Minds, machines, and monsters


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