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  • Bobby Fischer Stories

    Told by a master;

    During a tournament in 1959, There was a power outage. All the electricity went out in the building. As you could imaging, everyone was in a state of chaos. After the emergency crews entered the building, the tournament director noticed something bizarre. A player was still sitting at a board, analyzing the position with total concentration.

    Bobby Fischer!!!

    Bobby Fischer stories.



    Q1) Its unusual, to say the least, to meet a Swami who is involved in chess. What is your chess history?

    A) My father taught me the moves as a very young child growing up in Brooklyn, New York. I enjoyed playing the game through high school, but became really interested in it at university where my playing strength developed. I played on the Columbia university team, which was the USA Intercollegiate champion at the time. I was rated as a high expert - 2100 plus.

    After going to India and spending many years practicing meditation and Self-inquiry I had the opportunity to play tournament chess again in LA. I wanted to see if my new understandings of my inner world would help me achieve my long-term ambition of becoming a US Master. In fact I was able to do that and my playing had greatly improved.

    When I first came to Australia ten years ago I played in a few tournaments and won a few senior tournaments, but I havent played serious chess in at least six years.

    Q2) We hear that you knew Bobby Fischer in your youth. Can you say how that came about?

    A) Yes. My father, who was an artist, was getting a brochure done at his printers. He met a woman there and somehow they got talking about how much their sons loved chess. Suddenly the woman said, "You may have heard of my son. His name is Bobby Fischer." That was around 1962. Bobby would have been about nineteen and already US champion for about five years, so my father was gob-smacked. Mrs Fischer gave my father Bobbys phone number and I called him up to invite him over to my parents house. I was more nervous making that phone call than I ever was to ask a girl out.

    To my shock he accepted. The night he came over, I had the whole Columbia chess team down. It was great. Bobby was such a character. He read everybodys palm and spoke very bluntly about everything. He told one of my friends after reading his palm, "Youre going to die young." My father and he really hit it off. My team-mates were playing five-minute chess on the floor and Bobby was pretending not to watch them. Of course, they were very excited to be playing under the eye of the Grandmaster. One of the guys made a nice sacrifice of the exchange and Bobby, who had been watching out of the corner of his eye, said, "Very good, very good. I thought you were a weakie." I thought my friend would die of bliss. Bobby explained, "I dont like to watch weak players. It ruins my game."

    After that we became friends and we went to chess clubs together and even to the beach. One time we were at the beach and Bobby saw a pretty girl sitting by herself. He went up to her and said, "Im Bobby Fischer, the great chess player." It was a good opening gambit, but she had never heard of him. Her reply made him realise she was foreign, so he asked where she was from. She said, "Holland." Bobby said, "Do you know Max Euwe?" (The Dutch former World Champion). Shed never heard of him. Now Bobby had run out of ideas. He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

    Bobby liked his friends and he liked to be admired. One night, a friend of mine and I were sitting outside the ropes while Bobby was playing Hans Berliner in the U.S. Championship. At one point, Bobby played bishop takes knight. My friend whispered to me, "Why did he do that?" since you usually didnt want to give a bishop up for a knight. I said, well maybe its so and so, or such and such, pointing out some positional advantages that Bobby was getting. My friend considered it for a bit and then said to me enthusiastically, "Hes a genius!" Bobby won and after the game we went out to eat with him, and as we walked up Broadway, he turned to us and said, "You liked bishop takes knight, didnt you?" Hed heard it and felt appreciated.

    Another time, I visited Bobby at his house. He was living with his mother at an apartment in Brooklyn. He played over some games for me from the Russian publication, Schachmaty Bulletin. He saw so much so quickly that it was breathtaking. On several occasions, he went four or five moves ahead of the game and had to take back the moves because he assumed play would be along other lines. That night he showed me what he said was a refutation of the Kings Gambit. He was about to go off to play in a tournament in Argentina where the great Spassky (not yet World Champion) would be his main rival. Bobby said he thought that if Spassky had white, he would play the Kings Gambit against him, and then he said, "Ill take his pawn, hold it and win." It all happened that way with one major difference. Spassky had white, he played the Kings Gambit, Bobby took his pawn, he held it, he established a winning position, but Boris broke through and won. Bobby was so disgusted with himself. The next time I saw him, he showed me how completely busted Spassky had been in line after line, much of it beyond my chess comprehension.

    Speaking of Bobbys grasp of the board, I saw him play speed chess at the Marshall Chess Club with Bernard Zuckerman. Zuckerman later became an IM, and was then a strong master with a reputation as a speed player. Bobby gave him five minutes and took half a minute for himself. He crushed him game after game, all the while keeping up an endless flow of chess heckling. His hand moved way faster than my eye could see.

    Bobby was very peculiar and certainly marched to his own drummer. He wasnt always polite. One time the Chess Federation gave him a gift of a suitcase before he went to represent the US in the Leipzig Chess Olympics. The MC called him up and made the presentation, and Bobby looked at the suitcase and said, "Its too big."

    He was stubborn and a bit paranoid, but underneath it all, he was very likeable. He had a kind of innocence, and I dont think he ever understood why people reacted the way they did to some of his behaviour. Bobby was certainly the greatest genius I have ever met in any area of life, outside of yoga. But I think it was his innocence that made people feel sympathy for him. Im very glad that he came out and played Spassky in 1992 and I hope hes happy in Budapest, or Japan or wherever he is. I am sad to hear he has racist obsessions, but not surprised. His thought process served him well in chess, but he didnt recognise that in life they were often vitiated by his paranoia.

    Q3) Did you ever play Bobby?

    A) Not at chess, but I did play him at table soccer at an arcade. He was unbelievably competitive at everything. When one of my friends beat him at arm wrestling, he looked around for a weaker player that he could beat. When I beat him at a game of table soccer, he said, "Yeah, now you can say you beat Bobby Fisher!" So I said, "Well, I did, didnt I?"


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