29 June 2017

Fischer: 'I'm not seeing people'

Along with the Sports Illustrated (SI) reports on the World Championship -- documented in my recent post on another blog, Spassky: 'The Dr. Zhivago of Chess' -- I discovered another 40 or so SI articles dealing with chess. The most popular of the chess sub-topics was undoubtedly Bobby Fischer. The most unusual article about the 1970s American cultural hero appeared in the mid-1980s.

Sports Illustrated, 29 July 1985

Curiously, the person pictured on the lefthand page looks more like Tobey Maguire, who played Fischer in the movie 'Pawn Sacrifice' (2015), than it looks like Fischer himself. The 1985 article started,

About six years ago, sportscaster Dick Schaap was visiting Wilt Chamberlain in Wilt's celebrated California mansion when Schaap got the idea of trying to get in touch with his old friend Bobby Fischer. Schaap had known him since the 1950s, when Fischer was a rising chess star in New York and Schaap was a young magazine reporter assigned to cover him. So Schaap called Fischer's closest friend and confidante, Claudia Mokarow of Pasadena, and asked her to tell Bobby to contact him at Chamberlain's home. Soon afterward, Bobby rang back.

"Are you really at Wilt's house?" an astonished Bobby asked. Schaap assured him he was. "I'd really like to see that house!" "Would you like to join us for dinner?" Schaap asked. "I'd like to," Bobby Fischer said, "but I'm not seeing people."

A partial list of SI's Fischer articles is given below. It doesn't include the articles on the World Championship already given in the 'Dr. Zhivago' post. Bobby would have insisted that the 1992 Fischer - Spassky Rematch was also a World Championship title match, but he is no longer with us and there is no need to humor him.

That last article starts,

When chess master Bobby Fischer died of renal failure in an Icelandic hospital last Thursday, at age 64, he left trailing in his thickly bearded wake a legacy as confusing and mixed as it was memorable and even magical.

Confusing, mixed, memorable, magical -- yes, that was Bobby Fischer.

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