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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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Nonetheless, I sensed that I was closing in, if only I could get more time to prowl the library in my disguise. I knew he had been seen there, which meant he wasn't in Brazil. That he had gone to Brazil had been the big rumor in December.

The scent seemed to be fresh. There was the tale told by Ben Lewis, a truck driver who had spent part of a late February lunch hour attending George Putnam's radio talk show in a studio right across the street from the library. As the show ended at 2 p.m., Lewis turned and saw Bobby right behind him. A chess player, Lewis said he recognized him immediately, even though Fischer had a short beard.

"Bobby, hello," Lewis said. Fischer reeled backward. "About 10 feet," Lewis later recalled. The first thing Fischer said was, "How do I know you're not a journalist?"

Lewis thought that was pretty funny. "Bobby, I'm in my uniform, I drive a truck," Lewis said.

"Show me some ID," Fischer demanded.

Assured that he was, indeed, a truck driver, Fischer talked to Lewis for about a half hour. At one point, Lewis told him, "Bobby, you were the greatest!" To which Fischer sternly replied, "What do you mean, were?"

They chatted amiably, Lewis telling him that he had two sons and asking Fischer how he could make them better players.

"Don't try to make them child prodigies," Fischer said. "Forget about all that. Just let them play."

Lewis had a fine time talking to Bobby and, looking back, he has but one regret.

"If I had had a chess set, Bobby would have played me," Lewis said. "That's the thing that hurts more than anything else. I didn't have a doggone chess set."

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