E. Forry Laucks was an eccentric Neo-Nazi multimillionaire who according to Frank Brady wore a swastika on his lapel and had Nazi flags in his home. As a Fischer historian, Brady thinks Laucks, who accompanied and financed many of Fischer’s trips to play in tournaments, may also have influenced Fischer’s anti-Semitic and other beliefs. Of Laucks, Brady said, “He had a good heart but he was a neo-Nazi,” adding that when Fischer was younger Brady never heard him make an anti-Semitic comment and he was very respectful of religion.
Eccentric? Norman T. Whitaker told how Laucks would never take care of his car. He would never change the oil and when the engine crapped out Laucks would just go to a local used car dealer and buy another car. Laucks was apparently a relative, perhaps the son, of S. Forry Laucks, who was said to be the richest man in York, Pennsylvania and was the owner of the Lauxmont Farms. Old S. Forry died in 1942 and was said to have been even more crazy than E. Forry.
Laucks was best known for his patronage of the Log Cabin Chess Club of West Orange, New Jersey. Arthur Bisguier wrote that the club was attended by people from every walk of life, including Blacks and Jews, despite the club having Nazi flags all over the place.
Born in 1898 Laucks was described by National Master Ted Dunst (Dunst Opening) as “darkish, intense, ready at a moment’s notice to laugh at himself and at any of life’s ludicrous situations. Neatly balancing his social and business interests is his gift for art, as evidenced by the paintings which hang upon the walls of his home and which have been exhibited at the Montclair Art Museum, the Trenton Academy of Art, and the Art Center of the Oranges.”
Laucks grew up in York, Pennsylvania and attended Dummer Academy, Mercersburg Academy and Philips Exeter and began playing chess at nine years old and at eleven visited the Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs in New York. During his boyhood, however, the game did not mean much to him and it was not until many years later that chess became his passion.
In 1933 Laucks joined the West Orange YMCA Chess Club but being a night person, he disliked the early closing time. Thus, he established the Log Cabin Chess Club.
The venue was the spacious basement of his residence at 30 Collamore Terrace in West Orange, New Jersey. Here, in his own words, is what he sought to accomplish: “[The clubhouse was to be] a log cabin that would be neither too palatial, as some wealthy clubmen’s are, nor so poor and roughshod that it would lack comfort or a certain degree of refinement…I realized that everything, even to the wall decorations, furniture and utensils, had to be in keeping with the surroundings, or else just one piece out of place could spoil the effect of the whole…Therefore I made and designed all the furniture just as if I were in the backwoods where there can be no machined, finished pieces.”
Thanks to Laucks generosity the Log Cabin Chess Club offered substantial cash prizes in their major tournaments which were attended by the likes of Fischer, Lombardy, the Byrne Brothers, Benko, Evans, Bisguier and just about any other big name of the period you can think of. Sometimes Laucks would decide to take a trip and he would call a bunch of masters and say, "Let's go to Europe" and off they’d go.
As a chess player Laucks was strong enough to have defeated E.S. Jackson, Jr., in a New Jersey championship tournament but described himself as only being about Class B (1500-1600) strength so “people won’t think this fellow Laucks is such hot stuff as a player.” Several people who played him think that Class B was about right.
Laucks died on July 31, 1965 during the US Open Chess Championship in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He died after completing the first six rounds while he was leading a group of players on a tour of San Juan. He collapsed and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.