SI Vault
 
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
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
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

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

For some 21 months I had wondered what I'd say to Fischer upon meeting him face to face. Dressed as I was this night, I knew I could have affected a foreign accent, stuck out my hand and said, "Boooby Fischer! You ah zee greatess chiss playah uff all zee time!" But I had decided long ago I could not do that. Were I to confront him, I would have to do so on his terms, which meant I would have to be scrupulously honest. No lies, no evasions, no deceptions. He detests all such things. So, confronting him, I would have to tell him who I was and why I was there, whereupon he would either flee in horror or lash out.

After spending weeks of my life looking for this man, in a journey that had led me to countless homes, libraries, bookshops, chess tournaments, stakeouts, police stations, restaurants, bowling alleys and health spas, I finally had him in my sights, and I simply could not bring myself to reach out a hand to shake his. Fischer had chosen this life of privacy and seclusion, for whatever reason, and to breach it now seemed a pointless intrusion. I was certain enough in my own mind that the man was Bobby Fischer. I chased him for block after block through the streets of Los Angeles, thinking he might lead me to his home, for I was curious to know for myself just where he lived after hearing all the rumors.

In the end, even that didn't really matter. He stopped on one street corner for a while, waiting for a light to change, and then crossed the street and stopped at another. There were bums and winos all around, but he appeared to pay them no mind. I watched him for a long while from across the street. Fourteen years ago, he had stormed the chess world by winning those 20 straight games, and he was on his way to Iceland to do battle with Spassky. What seemed like only the beginning then was really the end.

Now here he was, momentarily sharing a street corner with winos in downtown Los Angeles. The last time I saw him, he was standing there under a large clock hung upon the corner of a building. Fittingly enough, the clock was broken, its hands motionless on the dial. Then he disappeared into a group of people climbing on Bus 483, bound for Pasadena.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Related Topics
  ARTICLES GALLERIES COVERS
Booby Fischer 1 0 0
Bobby Fischer 100 0 0
Ron Gross 1 0 0
Ben Lewis 1 0 0
Pasadena 86 0 1