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Bobby Fischer
William Nack
July 29, 1985
While conducting a search that turned into an obsession, the author discovers a great deal about the chess genius who drifted into seclusion after winning the world title
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July 29, 1985

Bobby Fischer

While conducting a search that turned into an obsession, the author discovers a great deal about the chess genius who drifted into seclusion after winning the world title

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Nor was there much point in asking to see Jim Buff, Fischer's good friend living in the Bay Area.

"Sir!" shouted Buff. "You're calling me on an unlisted number! I have nothing to say to you! If you call me again, I'll call the chairman of the board of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED!"

Bobby had been known to like San Francisco. In 1981 he had lived at the apartment of Greek-born grandmaster Peter Biyiasas and his wife, Ruth Haring. Through Buff, Biyiasas had invited Fischer to live with them.

One day Buff called. "Peter, he's coming up. Bobby's coming up on the bus to stay with you!"

Fischer arrived one early March morning with his suitcase of clothes and vitamins and a large orange-juice squeezer that he had bought in Mexico. He stayed for two months, returned to Los Angeles in the summer, then came back in the fall to stay two more months. They swam in the ocean, played pinball machines, bowled, went to movies, squeezed oranges and played baseball in Golden Gate Park. Fischer shagged Buff's fly balls and pegged them back to the plate as hard as he could.

"How was it coming in?" asked Bobby.

He was more overpowering at the chessboard with Biyiasas. During his four months in San Francisco, he beat Biyiasas 17 straight speed games before Biyiasas finally surrendered. "He was too good," Biyiasas says. "There was no use in playing him. It wasn't interesting. I was getting beaten, and it wasn't clear to me why. It wasn't like I made this mistake or that mistake. It was like I was being gradually outplayed, from the start. He wasn't taking any time to think. The most depressing thing about it is that I wasn't even getting out of the middle game to an endgame. I don't ever remember an endgame. He honestly believes there is no one for him to play, no one worthy of him. I played him, and I can attest to that. It's not interesting."

As time passed, Fischer's taste for the eccentric and his preoccupation with Jews became evident to Biyiasas. Biyiasas says Fischer referred to Jews as "Yids," telling him that one controlled the fluctuating price of the world's gold. "He is fascinated by who this might be," Biyiasas says. Fischer had what he called Chinese healthy brain pills ("Good for headaches," Fischer told him) and Mexican rattlesnake pills ("Good for general health"). He had vitamins in a suitcase, and he invited Biyiasas to help himself to them.

One day, Biyiasas tried to open the suitcase but found it locked. Later, Biyiasas asked him about this. "It's not locked for you," Fischer said. "If the Commies come to poison me, I don't want to make it easy for them."

Now Fischer was moving in a vacuum. A reporter had checked all public records in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas for a clue to Fischer's whereabouts, and he had found none. No telephone, no driver's license, no vehicle registration, no real property and no records of him in an array of courts.

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