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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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So he was probably here somewhere, and there I was, dressed like a derelict and making my way up the steps of the library's Hope Street entrance at 4:35 p.m. I did a quick circuit of all the rooms and at once found Gordon Brooks standing in the social sciences department. I approached him from behind and gruffly asked him for a cigarette. He turned: "I'm sorry, I.... Oh, it's you."

I told him to keep his eyes peeled, that I was on the prowl. Gordon nodded. An expert chess player, Brooks had once lost to Fischer in a simultaneous exhibition.

He had seen Fischer several times at the library in the last four years. The first time he spotted him, Fischer had a beard and was standing in front of the card-catalog files. Brooks approached him. "He mumbled something and turned and walked away," Brooks said.

They spoke on another occasion and, according to Brooks, Fischer said, "I'm bothered by a lot of weirdos."

Leaving Brooks, I swung through the history department and I thought I saw Fischer crouching by a stack of books along a wall. I could not see his face, so I sat down at the nearest desk and waited. He looked tall—Fischer is 6'2"—and he had a balding spot on the back of his head. Vintage Bobby. Suddenly the man stood up. I breathed deeply, and looked. Ohhh! Not him.

I got up, caught my breath and was about to head out the door when someone tapped me on the shoulder. Startled, I jumped and blurted, "Ahhh!" It was Brooks. He whispered to me, "He was here yesterday."

"What?" I breathed. "Are you sure?"

"The lady in Social Sciences said she saw him in there," he said.

Brooks and I swept through History into Social Sciences. "Are you positive it was Fischer?"

Pat Spencer looked me up and down, smiled demurely and said, "Yesterday, he was definitely here. It was late, between seven and eight o'clock. I know, because I didn't come out to the desk until then. He asked for the big dictionary over there. He had on a suit, real baggy pants."

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