Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fischer and Czerniak

Moshe Cerniak (left) and Robert James "Bobby" Fischer in Natanya, Israel, 1968. From Ad Ha'ragli Ha'acharon, by Yochanan Afek and Horatio Volman, p.  71. 

The late Bobby Fischer was known, at the end of his days, for his paranoid antisemitism, despite the fact that he was -- technically -- Jewish (since he was born to a Jewish mother). It wasn't always that way. In 1968, Fischer had participated in a tournament in Natanya, Israel, where he met all the local players, including Czerniak, as in the photo above.

Many of those I interviewed participated in the event, as players or spectators. Nobody had the least complaint about Fischer's behavior. They all praised him as perfectly correct and fair, both to the players and to the organizers. The one complaint was that he was a loner who did not often participate in post-mortems and, in general, did not mingle with others (he came to play, not to socialize).

But all agreed that this was, of course, his prerogative, and he, at the time preoccupied with achieving the world championship, could hardly be expected to socialize with all those who wished to claim his attention. 

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