A Modest Proposal For The Development Of A Robert “Bobby” Fischer Chess Tournament For The Church Of God

Although I am by no means a proficient chess player, once upon a time I was good enough at playing chess to win third place in my elementary school’s annual chess tournament and thus have my name put on a plaque that hung on the wall–although I do not know if it does so still.  Having watched a lot of videos and done a fair bit of reading about the games of Bobby Fischer recently, it has struck me that this reclusive figure of tragedy would be worth remembering in a positive light as a way of bringing people together.  During the history of the Radio Church of God (later the Worldwide Church of God), Bobby Fischer was among the most famous people to ever be a member in the church, and his beliefs concerning the Sabbath had some influence on his chess career, in that these views were respected in his tournaments, much to the annoyance and irritation of some of those who played against him.  In this light, therefore, Robert Fischer remains a figure whose involvement with the Church of God is a striking story, if not a cautionary tale, in the sort of misfits that can be attracted to the truth in the face of puzzlement if not opposition from the general world around.

There is at least one existing chess tournament that is a Bobby Fischer Memorial, but it would not be difficult to organize a chess tournament within the Church of God community that would honor him and thus provide a chance to build a cooperative infrastructure among the various organizations in the Church of God.  Indeed, given Fischer’s own excellence with chess, it would seem particularly worthwhile to have various regional qualifying tournaments that would give the winners the chance to play in the same sort of candidates tournament that Fischer won to challenge Soviet great Spassky successfully for the World Chess Championship in 1971.  To be sure, no one who played chess in the tournament would likely be a master and it is likely that few would even be at the expert level.  I imagine that 1600 rating or below would be the general level of chess skill that one would see in the tournament, at least at the beginning, and the games would be unlikely to see the mastery that Fischer had.

Yet the games would still be worthwhile to hold for several reasons.  For one, they would allow a chance for the Church of God to remember one of our own, a man whose complicated family history and personal struggles led him to an ironic and self-hating anti-Semitism (given that he was in fact likely 100% Jewish, and was certainly at least half Jewish through his mother), whose life included some serious political problems, and who never fulfilled his potential as a chess champion and who spent a significant portion of his life as a recluse.  Suffice it to say that Fischer was a complicated man for all of his chess brilliance, but at the same time the Church of God has had a complicated history as well and it would be worthwhile to recognize part of it in such a way that encourages people who would share a common religious identity to enjoy a test of wits and skill at the tactics and strategies of chess.  Indeed, such a tournament would be a commitment to a pro-intellectual mindset among those who were a part of it, and that would definitely be for the best.

Concerning the format of the game, it would be likely that the best way to honor the memory of Fischer would be to play in the form of classical chess that he was best known for, where both players start out with an hour apiece and would then gain an additional hour apiece if they hit time control on move forty-one.  These would not be short games, and would be a great test of mental stamina, as well as the patience of those who are watching the games.  Still, this sort of chess format is done quite well in chess clubs as well as professionally, and there is a market for people to watch games online and to speculate on the various lines that are taking place.  It is quite possible that despite the general obscurity of the chess skill of the population of the Church of God community that there would still be an interest in having people cheer on their favorite players and watch the games online, which would be somewhat easy to host.  It would also be possible to look into having and developing skilled chess adjudicators to make sure that the games work out properly.  I do not think this is an easy proposal [1], but it would certainly be a worthwhile one.

[1] Although, what proposals are easy to accomplish?  See, for example:






About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Modest Proposal For The Development Of A Robert “Bobby” Fischer Chess Tournament For The Church Of God

  1. Pingback: We Are Pieces In The Mysterious Game Of Chess Played By God | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Big Book Of World Chess Championships | Edge Induced Cohesion

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