The Mind of a Grandmaster – Report of a visit; Robert James Fischer; Chess Death, Inc.
Baton Rouge March 24-25: 1 a.m. 128 Graham Hall Louisiana State University. Memories.
HE IS HERE. WALKING. TALKING. SMILING. LAUGHING. HE IS ALIVE. HE BREATHES. IT IS TRUE BUT TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. R.J. Fischer walks the floor, up and down my room. No one in the building dreams he is here. (An entire page long column and photograph had appeared in the day’s newspaper announcing the arrival of Fischer.) He is searching frantically through my chess files for his old games. I stare, sit down, gape. I stare, stand up, gape. The man of accuracy, the so called enfant terrible of the press, the man I had researched for months in preparation for my appearance on narration end of a WBRZ ½ hour television Fischer simultaneous exhibition on lo boards – was before my eyes. The early morning glow of a light bulb on Fischer added to the dream. He simply was. That was enough for me … He could not find but one of his old games and that was trashily annotated. I was terribly embarrassed. Later I found all of the games I had stashed away and Fischer was gone … Although, along with promoter Don Wagner of Baton Rouge, I had sweated and worried about Fischer’s entire Louisiana tour (13 long distance calls and about 300 local) the whole affair was just a joke a dream; I would never get to meet Fischer much less play him … what a joke … and now nothing is funny or hard work anymore. It is all over Fischer is here, needs no help of any type and is perfectly content to wander all over town with Wagner and me. (Fischer was made a Colonel on the governor’s personal staff, received the key and scroll of Baton Rouge and etc., etc. other awards – all arranged by Wagner.) “Jude, I believe you are overly impressed with fame,” Richard Schultz, May 27, 1965 … In some weird manner we wind up at Wagner’s home … A college boy from Southeaster La. College in Hammond, LA drops in totally unaware of the meteoric chess flame which is before him. He sees the world’s greatest chess talent and says, “Chesss? I play a little. Want to play some?” Fischer is going to play this absolute fish a dozen games !!!!! I am about to die. The poor victim never did find out who he was playing throughout the night. No one bothered to tell him and Fischer’s very careful, simplified tips on how his opponent could have improved his play were beautifully worded so as to gain another chess addict for the chess world … 3 hours later Fischer and I are taking on the chess fish – in a pool hall. He is giving us 2 shots to his one … Fischer: “Hey, I thought you said you know how to play pool. This guy is murdering us.” Acers: “I used to play a lot but something is wrong. I am not playing much anymore. I can’t get going.” Fischer: “Man, look at that. He’s murdering us.” Acers: “I’ll take care of him, Bobby.” Our odds-giving opponent missed a shot. It was the last time he touched the table. Summoning all the willpower I could find I began working and ran the table clean except for one ball remaining – the eight object ball. This was the rubber match of a 3 game series. All I had to do was pop the 8 into a called left corner pocket and I would give Bobby and myself the win 2-1. I thought about it a while. By this time everybody in the place knew Fish was around and I was also recognized on just ordinary notoriety. An LSU student came up to Fischer and said in a nice manner, “Good luck with the Russians.” Bobby didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what to say. The road has been hard and riddled with what Mrs. Grady Addison calls “the professional jealousy around Fischer.” I look at Fischer. Fischer looks at me. I am still thinking. Bobby shoots after me. So we win probably no matter what … I look up again from the critical shot and say across the table, “Bobby … You … ahhhhh … want to win for us?” Bobby grins and says, “Yeah.” So worked a little bit, sure-stead – easy does it now, Acers – Don’t be stupid like your give away games with Buining the weakie-fishie … and I ease the eight with a little tap just outside the left corner pocket and leave the cue ball in a straight in, one half inch from the 8. It is so precariously set up that if somebody in the crowd had sneezed the 8 goes in …. Fischer just smiles and tries to think of something wisecrackery but decided to take care of the business at hand in silence. The share comes over. “You said he’s the best?” “The greatest that ever lived,” Acers.