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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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Until, that is, Grumette talked innocently about him to a reporter from the Los Angeles Times following his defeat of Spassky in 1972. "He dropped me, too," she says.

Lina took me to the second-floor room which Fischer had used when he lived there, and showed me a box of possessions that he had left behind: a warranty for a Zenith television set given to him after a tournament in 1966, a few religious books and stacks of letters from children asking him about chess.

She last spoke to him around 1979, when she was trying to arrange an exhibition match for him at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Caesars offered him $250,000 in appearance money. After he had agreed to the terms and all the arrangements had been made, Fischer called her. "I've been thinking," he began.

The minute he said that, she knew the deal was off. "I'm risking my title," Fischer said. "I should get $1 million."

The last time Grumette tried to reach him, she called Claudia Mokarow to ask for her assistance. It was just after the appearance of another Los Angeles Times article in which Grumette was quoted. "That'll cost you $1,000," Mokarow told her.

Actually that figure was cheap. Not long after inviting Fischer to Chamberlain's house for dinner, Schaap got in touch with Mokarow and told her he wanted to interview Fischer for Games Magazine.

"Bobby will be perfectly happy to interview with you," Mokarow said. "He's charging $25,000 per interview. Since he didn't charge you for the last interview, it will be $50,000."

None of his old chess friends have seen or spoken to him in years. Grandmaster Robert Byrne, now the chess editor of The New York Times, knew him well as a fellow American player for years, but he lost touch with him in the 1970s. "He does not return my messages," says Byrne. "I'm a journalist now."

Grandmaster William Lombardy, who was Fischer's second when he won the world title, has not talked to Fischer since 1978 in Pasadena, when the U.S. championships were held at the Worldwide Church's Ambassador College.

"I worry about him, but I can't worry about him night and day," Lombardy says. "I've made efforts to get in touch with him. I've tried to get his phone number, but he doesn't like his number given out. I can't be chasing him around, just to get hold of him to talk to him. In L.A., I've tried to find him. I've asked people where he might live, where you might see him. My door is always open. If he wants to get in touch with me, he can."

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