“Bobby is probably the most interesting person I’ve ever photographed. My pictures give Bobby Fischer a human side.–Harry Benson.
Robert J. Fischer was exposed to numerous professional photographers, the media, and during his life experienced a sincere dislike for both. He distrusted journalists and photographers and was well known to be insulting as he obsessively guarded his privacy. There was one exception. Before, during and following the Match of the Century in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972, Fischer allowed hundreds of photographs by the reknown Harry Benson and established a close working relationship that emerged where both would share many hours together with full consent and co-operation. Harry Benson got a birdseye view of Fischer before, during and following the famous match.
There are many interesting stories compacted in New In Chess magazine’s #4, 2011. Mr. Benson relates Fischer’s distrust and dislike of the Russians, saying they were all KGB. He felt personally hurt that the US Embassy was not represented at the title match with Spassky. He had, from the very early age of 12, made it his mission to bring the world championship back to America. He felt the Russians cheated reiterating what Reshevsky had cited previously and was sickened by some of the bad jokes and filthy language exhibited by the journalists who tried to approach him and get interviews. It angered him that a great deal of investigation into what made Fischer tick and his personality and character put under a magnifying glass so-to-speak by USSR KGB members. It was a Fischer trait that he could simply lie down anywhere, close his eyes and nap, rising after a bit and seemingly fully refreshed. They took long walks together, both men being quite tall. Something I did not know about Bobby was his apparent liking for young people and animals. Animals seemed drawn to Fischer who would hug and kiss them and seemed to be trusting of Fischer. (Certainly the IRS was partly responsible as was the US State Department who condemned Fischer’s trip to Yugoslavia for the return match with Spassky. Perhaps this little thought makes one wonder just what and who drove a stake into Fischer that created the derangement of foul and anti-US government outbursts the media and chess community of the USCF frequently found delight in it’s Chess Life pages.) A friend of mine confided 0nce that he always invited a prospective hiree to his home and how his dog reacted to the individual was one element in the employee selection process.
Bobby Fischer is a book of photographs in black and white covering the period from 1971 when Benson first met Bobby Fischer. The book contains many well known photographs of Fischer as well as many more never before seen. Those interested in history and photography will be blessed with this beautiful coffee table book simply called Bobby Fischer.
New In Chess contributor, Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam has done it again with a most revealing side of Bobby Fischer probably not seen by very many personages. His interview with Harry Benson perhaps more than any other feature covering that period of Fischer’s life and the World Championship, such journalism excellence breathes a fresh air of a little deeper understanding of Bobby Fischer by one who walked, talked, shared quarters and dined that covered a period of time that changed the makeup of the World Championship forever and focused on a character that will live forever in the annuals of chess history.