04 October 2022

October 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover'

In last month's post September 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (September 2022), I struggled to include the 1972 Fischer - Spassky match:-

CL&R couldn't yet report the final result of the match. [...] The date of today's post, 1 September, marks 50 years since the historic match ended. [...] We'll come back to the end of the 1972 match for the October 'On the Cover' post.

So here we are.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Joel Benjamin: The New Interplay U.S. Champion! INTERPLAY™'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

The World Champion!! Bobby Fischer visiting a farm near Reykjavik during the match. Photo is by Harry Benson, courtesy LIFE Magazine, © Time Inc.

Brad Darrach, author of 'Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World', told the following story in Ch.11 'Iron Logic Meets Sculptured Frenzy':-

The next day at about 5 P.M., Benson and I took Bobby to the country to shoot some photographs. All the way out he was surly and silent. About ten miles from Reykjavik we saw a field of sturdy little Icelandic horses that ran after the car, their blond manes streaming in the sun.

"Hey, they're pretty!" Bobby said. "Can you pet them? Will they bite?"

We pulled off the road and Bobby waded through deep grass to the fence. Fourteen horses trotted up boldly, bumping each other aside in their eagerness to sniff this interesting visitor. Bobby, delighted, broke into big smiles as the horses thrust their soft muzzles into his hands. Then he jumped back.

"Hey! They're drooling on my best coat!"

He took off his precious leather jacket from Argentina and gave it to me to hold. Benson asked him to go into the field and let the horses gather around him.

"Think it's safe?" he asked anxiously. "I got this far. I don't want to die before I get all that money."

We reassured him and separated the barbed wire. The horses veered away at first, but when Bobby sat on a tussock they came back and stood around him in a rough circle. The attention pleased Bobby, who seemed happier with these animals than we had ever seen him with people. He began to talk to them, and they listened.

One of the horses, bolder than the rest, leaned forward as if to kiss Bobby's cheek. Instead, very gently, the horse nipped his earlobe.

Bobby jerked back in terror. "He bit me! Did you see that? Wow! Lemme outa here!" He hurried back to the fence. The horses watched him with gentle eyes.

"This is dangerous, y'know?" he went on. "They got dirty teeth. I could get blood poisoning from a thing like that!"

I've long thought the CL&R cover photo was one of the horse series, but the animals in the background are sheep, not horses. Another famous Benson / Fischer photo shows Bobby being nuzzled in the face by a horse. He is wearing the same clothes as in the cover photo, so maybe I was right all along.

Back to the October 1972 issue, an introduction by editor Burt Hochberg proclaimed, 'Bobby Does It!!'. It was followed by an eight-page writeup by, 'The Match: Bobby's Show', by Robert Byrne. We will see more of the match in the coming months.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Our Interplay Champions!
• Joel Benjamin - U.S. Champion
• Esther Epstein - U.S. Women's Champion
• Tal Shaked - U.S. Junior Champion (World Junior Champion)

A two page, unsigned story titled, '1997 U.S. Interplay Championships', started,

Grandmaster Joel Benjamin, 33, of New York City, is the new Interplay U.S. Champion, by virtue of his victory over GM Larry Christiansen in the championship match. Joel scored +3-0=4 in the round-robin preliminary, +2-0=1 in his semi-final match against GM Gregory Kaidanov, and +2-1=3 against Christiansen, for an overall record of +7-1=8. He earned $10,000 and the Championship ring, designed by Heraldica Imports.

In a departure from the regular round robin format, the 16 players were divided into two separate sections, with the top two from each section advancing to match play. [...]

Somewhat curiously, the same introduction was repeated on the second page of the story. For an introduction to Interplay, see last year's October 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (October 2021; 'Not to be forgotten were the sponsors of the event.').

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