Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Eye of the Tiger

The Eye of The Tiger

A boxer on the top of his game is said to have "the eye of the Tiger": The killer instinct, the edge.

I think of Bobby Fisher's 1971 incredible run of 6 - 0 against both Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen and defeating Tigran Petrosian with 5 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss to go on in defeating Boris Spassky becoming the work champ in 1972. Clearly Fisher was the best in the world and he and everyone else knew he was.

Gary Kasparov was world champion 19851993 (undisputed) and 19932000 (non-FIDE) his FIDE rating peaked at 2851 in July 1999 and at that time was clearly the strongest human chess player around for a long time. The strongest ever to date in my opinion. But In 1984 Kasparov's road to championship was a bitter struggle as he had to play Anatoly Karpov 31 games before he could beat the then world champ Karpov for the first time. But once Kasparov passed that threshold he never looked back. Similarly Anatoly Karpov never seemed to have the same strength just like a boxer, where often a single defeat causes the boxer to loose their edge/"eye of the tiger" never to have it return in quite the same way.

Sadly there are many American chess players both contemporary and in the past who essentially dropped out of world class chess once they realized that they were never going to gain enough strength to grab the world crown. Respect and hope requires that I don't mention them, but I bet you can think of several. And in effect Bobby Fischer lost the eye probably catalyzed because of psychological problems. In the early 1970's FIDE/Soviet Union knew they could rebuff just one of Fischer's demands and the Fischer Karpov match would fall through. Rumors were around that Bobby was afraid of losing his title. Given how strong Karpov was in the late 1970's and early 1980's I think Bobby would have had quite a battle on his hands. Also it's ironic that Kasparov pulled the world championship out of Fide and Fischer never did.

Clearly to be the absolute best requires all types of strengths in many areas, but motivation and self confidence are on the top of the list, and once lost are very difficult to retrieve.

What are your feelings about this? Please Comment

Thank You. Mike Griffin 02/19/2009

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