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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fischer at Santiago, 1959

The second Torneo de Arturo Alesandri Palma was held from April 20th to May 6th, 1959 in Santiago, Chile. Thirteen players from Europe and the Americas competed in the event. The participants from Europe included Borislav Ivkov from Yugoslavia and Ludek Pachman from Czechoslovakia. The participants from the Americas included sixteen year old Bobby Fischer from the United States, João de Souza-Mendes from Brazil, Luis Augusto Sanchez from Venezuela, Herman Pilnik and Raul Sanguineti from Argentina, and Walter Ader Hausman, Rodrigo Flores-Alvarez, Carlos Jauregui, Rene Letelier Martner, Julio Salas Romo, and Moises Stekel Grunberg from Chile. The tournament was an important one for Fischer as he was still just beginning to compete in international events. Though he scored as many wins as the two first place finishers, Ivkov and Pachman at seven wins each, he suffered four losses while only drawing one game to finish +4 at the final to tie for 4th-6th place.

All the games from the event can be viewed HERE.
In an article in the German chess magazine “Karl” Pachman described his first encounter with Fischer: "I met him for the first time in May 1959 in Santiago de Chile [apparently Pachman had not "met" Fischer properly the year before in Portoroz]. On the day before the tournament he asked me to translate for him. He had arrived in Chile accompanied by his mother, and the organizer wanted to know if the two needed separate rooms. Bobby replied: 'You haven't understood, I want you to put up my mother in a room that is at least ten miles away!' Then he wanted to know about the prize money. The organizer asked if he hadn't read the letter of invitation? "I never read letters," said Bobby. The prize money that was named was too low and he threatened to leave. I told him his behavior was not correct, but he simply said ‘I have to get more.’

We stayed in the same hotel and talked every day, often preparing together for our games. That was unusual, since Bobby refused to analyze with the other players. He was suspicious of them all, fearing they would steal his ideas. But for some reason he considered me an exception. We had a kind of father-son relationship. I understood him and wished him a great future, hoping that he would mature as a human being in the process. But he remained exactly the same. He was completely apolitical. He hated the Russians, but not for political reasons. The last time I met him was at the chess Olympiad 1968 in Lugano. This was just a few weeks after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslavia. I was trying to get FIDE to expel the Soviet Union from the tournament and from the world chess organization. After a press conference Fischer came to me and thanked me for attacking the Soviets. 'Keep it up, attack the Russians,' he said."

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