Portrait of a Genius As a Young Chess Master

As exasperating as he is talented and as determined as he is eccentric, Bobby Fischer promises to become the game's most respected and least understood champion.

RUSSIA'S traditional hold on World Championships in chess is about to be challenged by the United States in the person of an eighteen-year-old boy from Brooklyn named Bobby Fischer. Bobby has been United States Chess Champion for four years. He won the title at the age of fourteen, the youngest player ever to do so. He has since successfully defended his title three times and has won virtually every major chess title in the country.

In an international tournament at Bled, Yugoslavia, last summer, he astonished the chess world by defeating Russia's Mikhail Tal in his only game against this former World Champion. The present World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik, did not participate in the tournament. Fischer is aching to play Botvinnik. "I know that I deserve to be World Champion and I know I can beat Botvinnik," he has said. "There's no one alive I can't beat."

Fischer may have his chance early in 1963 when the triennial chess World Championship will be played. He will first have to win two preliminary international tournaments, the Inter-Zonal and the Candidates, in 1962. Many of America's leading chess authorities agree with Lisa Lane, the twenty-four-year-old Women's Chess Champion of the United States. "I'm sure that Bobby can beat Botvinnik," she has said. "There's never before been a chess player with such a thorough knowledge of the intricacies of the game and such an absolutely indomitable will to win. I think Bobby is the greatest player that ever lived."

John W. Collins columnist for Chess Life and Chess Review and one of the country's most highly respected chess annotators, has written: "Bobby is the finest chess player this Country ever produced. His memory for the moves, his brilliance in dreaming up combinations, and his fierce determination to win are uncanny. Not only will I predict his triumph over Botvinnik but I'll go further and say that he'll probably be the greatest chess player that ever lived."

Frank Brady, business manager of the United States Chess Federation, the governing body of American chess, has said: "Russians have held chess World Championships in all but three of the past thirty-four years. Bobby is the man who will break that chain. Definitely. Maybe not in 1963, maybe not even in 1966, but eventually, for sure."

Botvinnik himself has acknowledged Fischer as a threat to Russia's chess supremacy. Last May he deplored the decline in the popularity of chess in Russia (which remains, nevertheless, the most chess-mad country in the world) and he cited the possibility that Fischer might win the World Championship for the United States.

It is safe to say that Bobby Fischer has aroused greater admiration for his chess-playing skill than any young player has ever before enjoyed. It is also a painfully well-known fact in the chess world, however, that never before has a young player aroused so much personal antipathy. This ill will seems to stem from what I. A. Horowitz, former U.S. Open Champion, has described as Fischer's "colossal egotism." Horowitz says: "The huge egos of great chess players are legendary. Psychologists have been amazed by their vanity, have studied it, and anecdotes concerning it are abundant. But never before has there been such a prima donna as Bobby. . . . Already he has managed to alienate and offend almost everybody in the chess world. That includes officials, patrons, writers, almost everybody and anybody who might be in a position to help him in his career."

It was chiefly to try to find the clue to Fischer's much discussed temperament that I arranged to interview him last summer.

HOW A GENTLEMAN LIVES

BOBBY came to my office in midtown Manhattan last August 25. The date had been made for the day before at three o'clock, but at four he had phoned to say that he just didn't feel like coming. When he did appear, he was again an hour late. Without knocking, he flung open the door, strode halfway across the room, and greeted me with the words, "Hey, do you have some food up here or something?"

I said I would phone for some food and asked what he wanted.

"A turkey white meat on rye, two celery sodas, some tea, and a couple plums," he said.

Fischer is handsome, over six feet tall, with broad shoulders, intense hazel eyes, and sharp features.

"Do you go to school?" I asked. "No, I'm a professional chess player. I quit school when I was sixteen."

"Lisa Lane has said-and lots of other people agree-that you're probably the greatest chess player alive."

"That statement is accurate, but Lisa Lane really wouldn't be in a position to know. They're all weak, all women. They're stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know. They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man. There isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds to and still beat."

"How about the men champions, like the Russians, Botvinnik, Tal, Keres, Smyslov, can you beat them?"

"They have nothing on me, those guys. They can't even touch me. Some people rate them better than me. That really bugs me. They think that no Americans play chess. When I meet those Russian potzers I'll put them in their place." ("Potzer," an ugly and insulting word in its original Yiddish, means an inferior player in chess parlance, where it is used without insulting connotation. Bobby's English is entirely free of profanity.)

"Would you consider yourself the greatest player that ever lived, even better, say, than Capablanca, Steinitz, or Morphy?"

"Well, I don't like to put things like that in print, it sounds so egotistical. But to answer your question, Yes."

"What does it take to become a strong chess player?"

"A strong memory, concentration, imagination, and a strong will."

"Does mathematical ability have anything to do with it?"

"Very little."

I was surprised by this last statement but later checked it and found that Bobby was entirely correct. Psychological tests have shown that chess masters do not necessarily excel in math, or, for that matter, in general intelligence. What they do possess is almost total recall as regards chess moves, fantastic imagination, and marvelous perception for spatial relations enabling them to glance at the thirty-two pieces and sixty-four squares of a chessboard and fashion a winning pattern of moves from the possible 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000 variations that the average tournament game of forty-five moves can take.

"How does one make a living at chess?" I asked.

"Reshevsky and I are the only ones in America who try. [Samuel Reshevsky is America's secondbest chess player.] We don't make much. The other masters have outside jobs. Like Rosselimo, he drives a cab. Evans, he works for the movies. The Russians, they get money from the government. We have to depend on tournament prizes. And they're lousy. Maybe a couple hundred bucks. Millionaires back this game, but they're all cheap. Look what they do for golf: thirty thousand dollars for a tournament is nothing. But for chess they give a thousand or two and they think it's a big deal. The tournament has to be named after them, everybody has to bow down to them, play when they want, everything for a couple thousand dollars which is nothing to them anyhow. They take it off their income tax. These people are cheap. It's ridiculous."

A reliable estimate which I later received fixed Fischer's and Reshevsky's average yearly prize winnings at $5,000 each. This just about covers their chess- playing expenses. In short, they earn no surplus directly from playing. Reshevsky, aged forty-nine, a married man with a family, receives a stipend from the American Chess Foundation. Bobby, who lives alone in a Brooklyn flat, has his rent, food, and clothing bills paid by his mother.

"Why this lack of support by millionaires?"

"It's the fault of the chess players themselves. I don't know what they used to be, but now they're not the most gentlemanly group. When it was a game played by the aristocrats it had more like you know dignity to it. When they used to have the clubs, like no women were allowed and everybody went in dressed in a suit, a tie, like gentlemen, you know. Now, kids come running in in their sneakers-even in the best chess club- and they got women in there. It's a social place and people are making noise, it's a madhouse."

Bobby's voice was beginning to take on a whine as he became more relaxed. I noticed that his fingernails were badly bitten.

"Am I correct in surmising that there are quite a number of Jews in the upper echelons of chess?"

"Yeh, there are too many Jews in chess. They seem to have taken away the class of the game. They don't seem to dress so nicely, you know. That's what I don't like."

"You're Jewish, aren't you?"

"Part Jewish. My mother is Jewish."

"It's been said, Bobby, that in your relations with some of the people in the chess world you behave very much like a prima donna. How about that?"

"Well, I'm not sure I know what you mean by a prima donna, but if something doesn't interest me or if someone bores me, or if I think they're a phony, I just don't bother with them, that's all."

"How about school, did that bore you?"

"You don't learn anything in school. It's just a waste of time. You lug around books and all and do homework. They give too much homework. You shouldn't be doing homework. Nobody's interested in it. The teachers are stupid. They shouldn't have any women in there. They don't know how to teach. And they shouldn't make anyone go to school. You don't want to go, you don't go, that's all. It's ridiculous. I don't remember one thing I learned in school. I don't listen to weakies [Bobby's term for non- chess players or for chess players who are weaker than himself]. My two and a half years in Erasmus High I wasted. I didn't like the whole thing. You have to mix with all those stupid kids. The teachers are even stupider than the kids. They talk down to the kids. Half of them are crazy. If they'd have let me, I would have quit before I was sixteen."

BIRTH OF AN OBSESSION

WHEN I asked Bobby about his personal life, he said he was born March 9, 1943, in Chicago. His father was a physicist and his mother a registered nurse and schoolteacher. He has an older sister. When he was a baby, his parents were divorced. His mother took him and his sister to California, Arizona, and then Brooklyn, where the family settled. Bobby's father left the country soon after his son was born and Bobby has no recollection of him. Bobby's mother provided all of the family's support. (Bobby's sister, Mrs. Joan Targ, later described their mother to me as a woman of great intellect and boundless energy. She is accomplished in at least half-a-dozen languages and holds a pre-med degree. She is also "something of a professional crusader," as Mrs. Targ said. At the time of the writing of this article she was walking her way across Europe to Moscow as part of a pacifist antiwar demonstration. Mrs. Targ underscored the fact that Bobby had never come under the strong influence of a man at any time during his formative years.)

Bobby began to play chess at the age of six. "My sister bought me a set at a candy store and taught me the moves," he said to me. At first it was just one of many board games that Bobby was interested in. At the age of nine, however, he became obsessed with the game and began to exhibit talent. He was invited to play at some of the city's best chess clubs, and when he was thirteen he entered tournament play. He soon won the U. S. Junior Championship, the New York Metropolitan Chess League Championship, and the coveted Lessing J. Rosenwald Chess Trophy. (In winning the Rosenwald Trophy he played a game that was so intricate in its combinations, so brilliant in its ingenuity, so fraught with apparent-but not real-danger that it has since become known as "The Game of the Century.") In 1957, when Bobby was fourteen, he won the U. S. Championship and the following year, at fifteen, he was the youngest player to be designated an International Grand Master by the Federation Internationale Des Echecs (FIDE), the world governing body of chess-the highest of all honorary chess titles.

"After that I quit school," Bobby said.

"How did Your mother feel about that?" PHOTOGRAPH OF BOBBY FISCHER BY RALPH GINZBURG

"She and I just don't see eye to eye together. She's a square. She keeps telling me that I'm too interested in chess, that I should get friends outside of chess, you can't make a living from chess, that I should finish high school and all that nonsense. She keeps in my hair and I don't like people in my hair, you know, so I had to get rid of her."

"You mean that she moved out of the Brooklyn apartment you lived in?"

"Yeh, she moved in with her girl friend in the Bronx and I kept the apartment. But right now she's away on this trip with those people [the pacifists] for about eight months. I don't have anything to do with her."

"I was under the impression that she had had a great deal to do with the success of your career. Didn't she go on a hunger strike last year and picket the White House to dramatize the need for funds to send you and the American team to the Chess Olympics in Leipsig?"

"Yeh, but she doesn't know what she's doing. She ought to keep out of chess."

I asked him to describe a typical day in his life. "Lots of the time I'm traveling around. Europe, South America, Iceland. But when I'm home, I don't know, I don't do much. I get up eleven o'clock maybe. I'll get dressed and all, look at some chess books, go downstairs and eat. I never cook my own meals. I don't behave in that stuff. I don't eat in luncheonettes or Automats, either. I like a waiter to wait on me. Good restaurants. After I eat I usually call up some of my chess friends, go over and analyze a game or something. Maybe I'll go to a chess club. Then maybe I'll see a movie or something. There's really nothing for me to do. Maybe I'll study some chess book."

"You travel around the city mainly by subway?"

"Unfortunately, yes, It's dirty-kids there see I have nice shoes on so they try to step on them on purpose. People come in there in their work clothes and all, people come charging in like animals, it's terrible. People sitting and staring directly across the aisles at you, it's barbaric."

"Do you have any one or two closest friends?"

"No. I don't keep any close friends. I don't keep any secrets. I don't need friends. I just tell everybody everything, that's all."

I asked him if this policy of 100 per cent honesty toward everybody at all times wasn't perhaps at the core of his difficulty in dealing with people. That is, if his forthrightness hadn't perhaps sometimes been misinterpreted as tactlessness. Bobby said that that might have been the case.

WHAT IS AN UNCIVIL HOUR?

AS WE discussed his difficulties with people in the chess world, I brought up a number of his most publicized controversies and asked Bobby for his side of the story. In each case he was able to present what sounded like perfectly reasonable explanations for the position he had taken. Whether or not he subsequently damaged his position by obstinacy and unwillingness to compromise is another question.

In 1959, for example, he caused a rhubarb by refusing to defend his title as U. S. Champion unless pairings for the tournament were drawn in public, though hitherto they had always been drawn in private. Explaining this action, Bobby told me that he had showed officials of the U. S. Chess Federation a FIDE rule which required public drawings. The officials admitted that they had been violating the rule unknowingly, and they promised to draw the pairings for all future tournaments in public. Although it would seem that Fischer had made his point, their promise did not satisfy him, and he insisted that the pairings already made-and announced-for 1959 be withdrawn. When the officials refused, he threatened not to defend his title. Eventually, he was forced to back down; he played and won. But as far as the general public was concerned, his earlier triumph of principle was demolished.

In a second highly publicized incident, just last summer, Bobby forfeited a sixteen- game, cross-country match to Reshevsky, because the twelfth game of the series was set for 11:00 A.M., an hour that Bobby regarded as uncivil for playing chess. Explaining this to me, he said that the match had originally been scheduled for play at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, at 1:30 in the afternoon. At ten that morning, he received a phone call from the referee of the game saying that playing time had been moved up to eleven. This, he said, was to accommodate the wishes of the principal patron of the series, Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky, who wanted to be sure the game would be over in time for her to attend a concert to be given that night by her husband, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. Bobby refused to play at that early hour and cited a clause in his playing contract which stated that playing time had to be acceptable to him. When Bobby failed to show up, the Los Angeles referee announced the game a forfeiture in favor of Reshevsky. The score of the series up to then had been tied at 5 1/2 games each. The forfeiture put Reshevsky ahead, 6 1/2 to 5 1/2.

The next game was to be played in New York four days later. Fischer refused to continue the series unless the forfeiture were first overruled. No one at the New York offices of the American Chess Foundation, sponsor of the series, was in favor of the decision of the Los Angeles referee and it was almost certain that in due time the forfeiture would be overruled. But Chess Foundation officials resented a threat to quit. "Fischer is holding a gun to our heads," the president, Walter Fried, told the New York Times.

When playing time for the thirteenth game arrived, the Chess Foundation had not yet overruled the forfeiture and Fischer did not show up for the game. The entire series was then declared a victory by default for Reshevsky and the trophy and prize money were awarded him. "There was no other course we could take consistent with our responsibility and our self respect," Fried said later. Bobby told me that in each of these cases he was merely "defending" his "principles." It is this rigid adherence to principle-to the point of self destruction-that seems to characterize almost all of his difficulties.

"I DECIDED TO DRESS UP"

THE topic of the interview changed to clothing. "I gather that clothes mean quite a bit to you," I said. "Wasn't there a time when you dressed rather carelessly yourself? Weren't you once pictured in a full-page photograph in Life playing simultaneous chess against a group of older men who were respectably dressed while you were wearing sneakers and blue jeans?"

"Yeh, I used to dress badly until I was about sixteen. But people just didn't seem to have enough respect for me, you know And I didn't like that, so I decided I'd have to show them they weren't any better than me, you know? They were sort of priding themselves. They would say he beat us at chess, but he's still just an uncouth kid. So I decided to dress up."

I noted that Bobby was wearing a green, vertically striped tie, white shirt, and a brown checked suit with tightly pegged pants. He was meticulously groomed, though his clothes showed no particular individuality.

"Where do you buy your clothes?" I asked.

"I have them all made for me."

"Where?"

"Different places. This one I had made in Germany."

"Have you any particular objection to readymade clothes?"

"Oh, I wouldn't touch them. I have my shoes made to order, my shirts, everything. I like to dress classy. I have seventeen suits now, all hand tailored."

"Clothes are just a weakness with you, is that it?"

"No, just a strength." He laughed. "I don't know. I've had suits made in Argentina, Trinidad, England, New York, California, East Germany, West Germany, and I guess that's all, so far. If you get seventeen suits, you can rotate them. They wear a long time. That's where the poor man gets it coining and going. His suits wear out fast and he never has a wardrobe to choose from."

"You say your shoes are handmade, too?"

"Yeh, some Hungarian uptown makes them. They cost a hundred bucks a pair. I've got five pairs, not counting ready-mades, which I don't wear anymore anyhow."

"What about shirts, where do you get them?"

"This place called Sy's; they cost twenty-five dollars each. It's the same place where Kennedy gets his made. I found out who Kennedy's tailor is in England. I might go there, too."

"You like Kennedy? Would you have voted for him?"

"I don't think so. I don't like to see millionaires in there. He has it too soft, you know. I don't think he's ever had any hardships. Besides, he doesn't have any class. He puts his hands in his coat pockets. God, that's horrible!"

"Where do you have your laundry done?"

"This shirt I'm wearing I sent to some stupid laundry in New York. They ruined it. I lugged the shirts all the way from Brooklyn. Boy, I'm mad about that. On my way to Yugoslavia next week, I'll stop off in Italy and get some shirts to make up for it. I hear they cost only ten dollars in Milan. You know they say you can tell the decline of a nation when the people begin to lose interest in their clothes. Nowadays if you're dressed up people think you're a dandy. In the olden days the most virile men were the men who dressed the best."

I then asked Bobby if he had any interest outside of chess and clothes. Apparently not. He had recently wanted to learn judo, but after inspecting New York's judo schools he found them "too low-class for me with too much riffraff and no place to put your clothes," and so he abandoned the idea. For a while he was interested in "occult subjects," palmistry in particular. "Palmistry is a definite science," he said. "It's not just a bunch of nonsense like astrology." His own palms, he said, show a flexible mind and a soul that has been callused by the hard knocks of life. "Like I'm not as soft or as generous a person as I would be if the world hadn't changed me"

Bobby listens to short- wave radio a bit, particularly if a chess match is being broadcast over the Voice of Moscow. He says that his favorite actor is Marion Brando but adds that "in Hollywood they say he's terribly conceited." He doesn't watch TV much. He is, as he says, "a cautious person" and he read somewhere that "every time you watch TV you get a little radiation" so he stays away from TV.

Bobby doesn't believe in God. "I read a book lately by Nietzsche and he says religion is just to dull the senses of the people. I agree." Recently he had been reading about Dr. Fu Manchu, Hitler, and Caryl Chessman. "That was a pretty bad thing they killed Chessman. I felt pretty bad about that." Also, he has read Errol Flynn's My Wicked, Wicked Ways, a book which seems to have made a deep impression upon him.

"Does Flynn's sort of life appeal to you?"

"Well, yeh, a little bit. Yeh, I'd like to travel around, be an international playboy. They have all that money, they could really do it right. Look at Flynn."

"You mean he had all those dames?"

Bobby laughed. "No, I mean all that money."

"Do you have a girl friend?"

"Naw, I don't like American girls. They're very conceited, you know. In Europe they're more pleasant."

"Do you correspond with any special girl over there?"

"No, but I get a lot of fan mail from Europe. Chess is very big over there. Sometimes girls write me. One girl in Yugoslavia sent me a whole slew of love letters. I don't know how she got my address. She was in a crowd watching me play. She says when I left there the stars fell out of the sky over Yugoslavia, or something like that."

We both laughed uproariously. "Aren't you afraid to go back to Yugoslavia?" "Nope," he answered still laughing.

"Why is chess so much more popular in Yugoslavia than in the United States?"

"Well, you know, in America everybody is interested in making the dollar fast. In Yugoslavia no matter how much you hustle you're not going to get rich, so you might as well play chess."

We had been talking for nearly five hours and it was time for me to drive Bobby home.

"Before we end this, though, I just want to ask you one more question." I said. "You've rapped an awful lot of people today. I want to know what class or group of people, no matter how small, you admire without qualification. That is, do you feel that there's anyone around who is free of uncouthness, who is thoroughly respectable, intelligent, and entirely deserving of your admiration?"

There was a long pause. "Well, I ... gee . . I don't know." Bobby peered up sheepishly. "Wait! There is: the aristocrats! Yeh, I admire the aristocrats. You know, the millionaires, except they're millionaires the way millionaires should be, not the way millionaires are. They're the European millionaires. The French people, you know. Not like the American millionaires. Here you can't tell them apart from the other people. Some of them even drive Chevrolets. They dress casually and all, they're like afraid to be looked at. They should be setting the standards for other people. Instead, they dress like' slobs, you know."

"Have you ever met any of these European aristocrats? Do you know for sure that they exist?"

"I haven't met any, yet. But I've read about them ... like in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities."

The interview ended. Several things about him had become clear. First of all, whereas chess is just a game for most people, a diversion from life, for Bobby Fischer chess is life and everything that happens off the chessboard is a distraction. Second, though Bobby is possibly the greatest chess player of all time, he is not a genius in other respects (nor, incidentally, are most other chess masters of the world). Third, though Fischer is eighteen years old, he shows some traits of much younger children, who behave that the world is centered around filling their needs. Finally, though it was easy to see how Bobby could offend people with his sweeping statements, he does not show malice. Concerned with his own feelings, he is gentle, shy, almost timid. Bobby is, as his sister later told me, "a boy who requires an extra amount of understanding." Perhaps this is inevitable for a boy who has grown up without a father.

TO MY OWN MEASURE

ON THE way to my car after leaving my office, we made two stops. The first was at a paperback bookstore where Bobby wanted to buy a book. He examined Commandant of Auschwitz and Bridge over the River Kwai and finally selected the store's last copy of Bernard Baruch's My Own Story. He seemed particularly impressed by the photographs of old Wall Street tycoons. "They were pretty snazzy in the old days," he said. "Look how elegant and gentlemanly they are."

We next stopped at a posh espresso house for a bite to eat. Bobby ordered a slice of pecan cream pie, a side order of butter cookies, and an elaborate frozen pineapple drink. When he had finished his pie, I mentioned that the place was reputed to be owned and operated by homosexuals. Bobby was horrified and eyed the waiters narrowly. "Gee, you'd think the place would die off with a reputation like that." Re-turned his attention to his drink. "Maybe they put something in here. I better not drink it." He didn't touch it again. Nor did he eat any more of his cookies.

We drove to Bobby's house located on the edge of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant district where the homicide and general crime rate is among the highest in the city. The house is a four-story walk-up with a barber shop and a candy store on the ground floor. He told me that his four-room apartment has a library of some two hundred chess books, piles of chess magazines, and an inlaid chess table made to order for him in Switzerland. There are three beds in the apartment, each with a chessboard beside it, and Bobby sleeps in them in rotation.

It was a hot August night and men were sitting in undershirts on stoops up and down the street. Half-naked Negro and white children were playing hide-and- go-seek, and rock 'n' roll music was blaring from a saloon juke box. The gutter was littered with pizza crusts, ice-cream wrappers, and empty beer cans. In his handmade suit, Bobby stepped from my car, then stooped over and poked his head into the window to say good-by. I asked him what he planned to do if and when he managed to beat Botvinnik and become the World Champion.

"First of all," he said, "I'll make a tour of the whole world, giving exhibitions. I'll charge unprecedented prices. I'll set new standards. I'll make them pay thousands. Then I'll come home on a luxury liner. First-class. I'll have a tuxedo made for me in England to wear to dinner. When I come home I'll write a couple chess books and start to reorganize the whole game. I'll have my own club. The Bobby Fischer ... uh, the Robert J. Fischer Chess Club. It'll be class. Tournaments in full dress. No bums in there. You're gonna have to be over eighteen to get in, unless like you have special permission because you have like special talent. It'll be in a part of the city that's still decent, like the upper East Side.

"And I'll hold big international tournaments in my club with big cash prizes. And I'm going to kick all the millionaires out of chess unless they kick in more money. Then I'll buy a car so I don't have to take the subway any more. That subway makes me sick. It'll be a Mercedes-Benz. Better, a Rolls-Royce, one of those fifty-thousand dollar custom jobs, made to my own measure. Maybe I'll buy one of those jets they advertise for businessmen. And a yacht. Flynn had a yacht. Then I'll have some more suits made. I'd like to be one of the Ten Best- dressed Men. That would really be something. I read that Duke Snyder made the list.

"Then I'll build me a house. I don't know where but it won't be in Greenwich Village. They're all dirty, filthy animals down there. Maybe I'll build it in Hong Kong. Everybody who's been there says it's great. Art Linkletter said so on the radio. And they've got suits there, beauties, for only twenty dollars. Or maybe I'll build it in Beverly Hills. The people there are sort of square, but like the climate is nice and it's close to Vegas, Mexico, Hawaii, and those places. I got strong ideas about my house. I'm going to hire the best architect and have him build it in the shape of a rook. Yeh, that's for me. Class. Spiral staircases, parapets, everything. I want to live the rest of my life in a house built exactly like a rook."

Ralph Ginzburg's office is four flights up a spiral staircase on top of an old thirty-story office building in Manhattan. Since Army service in the Korean War, he has been a newspaperman, photographer, advertising man, staff member of "Look" and "Esquire," and author of the best- seller, "An Unhurried View of Erotica." He plays-lots of chess, but Bobby Fischer beat him (he says) in three seconds flat.

By Ralph Ginzburg
Harper's Magazine, January 1962


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