Sunday, January 20, 2008


Going back to Bobby Fischer for a moment...

Though this particular degree is as wide as the Grand Canyon, the "degree of separation" between Fischer and myself is one, the one being Barry Munitz, former Chancellor of the California State University system and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. When Munitz was Chancellor, on several occasions I drove him around Sacramento while he was in town for various legislative meetings. Among other things, we discovered that we were both huge James Ellroy fans, and my copy of "My Dark Places" was a gift from Munitz.

Munitz was a huge chess buff, and his office was decorated with a variety of antique chess sets. And he went to the same high school as Fischer, and actually tried to recruit him to join the club (now mind you, this was when Fischer was already U.S. Champion). I found this account of Munitz' attempt today, from an article published around the time he became CSU Chancellor:

Munitz, Fischer's slightly older compatriot at Brooklyn's Erasmus High School, has been deputized to seduce the young prodigy into joining the school chess club. Only Fischer is in no mood to be seduced.

"He was as irascible then as he is now,'' Munitz recalled recently, "and he responded to my inquiry with a very short and extraordinarily obscene answer. And that was the end of our exchange.''

Apparently, not much changed over the years.

No comments: