03 July 2014

Treated Like a World Champion

In a recent post on my World Championship Blog, Zone 7 Details, 1969 & 1975, I quoted Bill Hook writing in 1975 about the Santo Domingo zonal held in July that year,

A surprise visitor was Florencio Campomanes of the Philippines, FIDE Deputy President, fresh from negotiations in Caracas for a possible Fischer - Mecking match.

Although I couldn't find any more about the match (why was the meeting in Caracas?), I did find a 1973 Fischer photo that doesn't yet seem to have been made available on the web. There are, however, similar photos in several places.

The photo caption said,

MANILA, OCT.16 -- PRESIDENTIAL CHESS -- World chess champion Bobby Fischer, right, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, left, play ceremonial game of chess Tuesday, during the opening of the Philippines International Chess Tournament in Manila. In background from left are: Mrs. Imelda Marcos, wife of the president, and Christina Ford. (AP Wirephoto)

The Marcos encounter is mentioned in Frank Brady's Endgame, in a section listing offers that Fischer refused after becoming World Champion.

Bobby did accept one offer, but not for millions -- rather for $20.000. He was invited to be the guest of honor at the First Philippine International Chess Tournament in 1973, and in addition to the honorarium mentioned above, all of his expenses were paid. He stayed at the Tropical Palace resort on the outskirts of Manila for a month. At the tournament he made the ceremonial first move and played a mock game with President Marcos -- one that ended in a mock draw after eight moves.

Journalists asked Fischer why he'd accepted the offer to come to the Philippines on his first "official" visit when he'd turned down similar offers from other countries. "I was there in 1967," he said. "I was not yet World Champion but they treated me like a world champion."

Christina Ford is undoubtedly Cristina Ford, 'the second wife of Henry Ford II, chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Company [...] She was a friend of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos', according to Wikipedia.

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