19 August 2022

Bags of Loot

A few months ago, in an earlier post in this Fischer Friday series, a post titled Hatchet Job (June 2022), I quoted Anthony Saidy writing,

Brad Darrach, one of the minority of journalists sympathetic to Fischer.

That short quote made two points. The first was that Darrach was 'sympathetic to Fischer'. The second was that the same could be said for only a 'minority of journalists'. That might seem surprising, given the legendary proportions the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Match has taken over the past 50 years, but Fischer's recalcitrance was exposed to the world for several long weeks.

A remnant of that general lack of sympathy are the political cartoons of the day. Often appearing on a newspaper's editorial page, often accompanied by an unsympathetic editorial, the cartoons ridiculed Fischer mercilessly. Here's one example.

The cartoonist was one of the best known at that time, Pat Oliphant (wikipedia.org). According to Wikipedia,

Patrick Bruce "Pat" Oliphant (born 24 July 1935) is an Australian-born American artist whose career spanned more than sixty years. His body of work as a whole focuses mostly on American and global politics, culture, and corruption; he is particularly known for his caricatures of American presidents and other powerful leaders. [...] He retired in 2015.

A copy of the cartoon is preserved in the U.S. Library of Congress: 'Mr. Fischer seems to be ready now ... shall we commence, Mr. Spassky?' / Oliphant (loc.gov). Here we learn,

Summary • Cartoon shows American chess player Bobby Fischer in Superman costume holding bags of "loot" approaching table where Soviet chess player Boris Spassky sits, at the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Between Fischer and Spassky -- in small text -- Uncle Sam says to a penguin, 'I seem to always be represented by clowns.' From the same Wikipedia page:-

Early in his career, Oliphant began to include a small penguin in almost every one of his political cartoons. This character, which he named Punk, joined a tradition of such secondary figures, which cartoonist R. C. Harvey has termed "dingbats".

I discovered the cartoon via the resource introduced in Bobby Fischer Day by Day (May 2022). The original clipping, World Chess (newspapers.com; 'Clipped by BobbyFischer'), is attributed to 'The Brattleboro Reformer; Brattleboro, Vermont; 07 Jul 1972'. Given Oliphant's popularity, the cartoon must have appeared in many publications.

There are dozens of other cartoons scattered throughout the 'BobbyFischer' clippings. I featured another in Cold Warriors of Chess (August 2022). More an illustration than a cartoon, the accompanying sympathetic article appeared before Fischer was making daily headlines by *not* travelling to Iceland.

[On this day 50 years ago, the players were preparing for the 16th game, to be played the next day. The score was plus-three for Fischer, with nine games left on the schedule.]

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