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
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
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
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
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
"Do you go to school?" I
asked. "No, I'm a professional chess player. I quit school when I
"Lisa Lane has said-and
lots of other people agree-that you're probably the greatest chess
"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
"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."
ability have anything to do with it?"
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
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.
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
"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
"You're Jewish, aren't
"Part Jewish. My mother
"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
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
"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
WHAT IS AN
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
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
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
"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
"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
"Where do you have your
"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
Bobby laughed. "No, I
mean all that money."
"Do you have a girl
"Naw, I don't like
American girls. They're very conceited, you know. In Europe they're
"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
"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
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
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."
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