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Golombek on Fischer

From time to time we shall quote passages illustrating the prose style of various writers, and the series begins with a news report from page 292 of the October 1960 BCM in which Harry Golombek's waspishness and sniffy irony were in full flow:

'The US is experiencing difficulty in raising the sum necessary to send a team to Leipzig. A chess committee has addressed an open letter to President Eisenhower stating that "6,000 dollars were required for this purpose and that" this year with such top players as Bobby Fischer, Samuel Reshevsky, Larry Evans, Robert Byrne, Arthur Bisguier, Pal Benko, Nicholas Rossolimo, James Sherwin and others to select a team from, "our chances of winning are excellent." The letter finishes with "We need an immediate O.K. from you." One hopes that there will be a good response to this request and that we will see a US team at Leipzig. Unfortunately, the game of chess being what it is, we doubt whether even an immediate O.K. from a US President will suffice to lever the team into first place.

This optimism about USA's chances seems to flow in some measure from the considered opinion of the US Champion, 17-year-old Bobby Fischer. In the Saturday Review for 10 September we read that "the big news in American chess these days is that the United States, for the first time, has at least half-a-dozen players who, as a group, have a better than fair chance of winning the world's championship at the Chess Olympics. According to young Mr Fischer, who visited S.R.'s offices recently, a team made up of himself, Samuel Reshevsky, Larry Evans, Nicolas Rossolimo, Arthur Bisguier and Robert Byrne would be in genuine contention for first place." Knowing the members of this team the present writer would be prepared to admit the truth of this last sentence, always provided the last three words were omitted.

Some more illuminating remarks are quoted in the following paragraph: "We asked Fischer about his recent trip to Russia and he told us that the average man in the street was no more interested in chess there than he was over here. 'Moscow's a pretty dull place', he told us frankly. Fischer himself has grown up some since we talked to him last, but mostly in height. He is still not much of a scholar, although he likes books on magic, hypnotism and palmistry, and stories of intrigue. Asked if he wanted to go to college, he shook his head. 'Nah', he said, 'too much homework'."

What sort of divining guide Fischer used to test the average Muscovite's interest in chess we do not know since he speaks no Russian but we are happy to assure the reader that the young American grandmaster is far from being the moron that one might think him to be from these idiotic remarks.'

--Article 3022 from ChessCafe.com


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