ELUSIVE CHESS CHAMPION
Your July 29 article Bobby Fischer was a masterpiece. William Nack's account of his hunt for the reclusive Fischer read like an excerpt from a Robert Ludlum novel. But I still can't understand why Nack didn't approach Fischer after finding him in the Los Angeles Public Library.
ANTHONY GARGIULO JR.
River Forest, Ill.
William Nack's piece brought out the desire of the chess public to see Bobby in the limelight again, but it ended with the one thing that Bobby wanted most, respect for his individual right to privacy. A middle-level tournament player since 1970, I, too, have missed his presence in the chess news and will always believe he possesses the greatest mind for chess of anyone who has ever "pushed wood." Bobby doesn't need to come back to chess. He's already a legend!
DAVID Y. CAUSEY
William Nack's detective work on Bobby Fischer was interesting, and Greg Spalenka's art fascinating. Fischer, while the greatest chess player who ever lived, does possess some of the strange proclivities often associated with genius.
I doubt that most of the currently competing grandmasters would want to see Fischer come out of his self-imposed retirement unless it were to watch him humiliate someone else. In any case, it's a good thing Nack and Fischer did not speak. A conversation might have proved disappointing.
August 11, 1985
Guess you'll have to find another library, Bobby.
Harbor City, Calif.
I read with great dismay the article about my high school hero, Bobby Fischer. Although it was clearly evident even then that he was eccentric, all that mattered to me and my chess-playing friends was his obvious brilliance on the board. Now after all these years it saddens me to discover that his peculiarities were much more than trivial quirks. He apparently was, and is, a very disturbed man. Say it ain't so.
Bobby Fischer said he would play chess until he died, and he did. He died publicly when he won the world championship and then disappeared. But he has continued to play a private game of chess. His opponent is the press. The stakes are his "normal" life.
Contrary to Fischer's belief, he no longer is world champion. The world championship is a public title. And his private game is flawed because it is played solely from a defensive point of view.
A picture caption in the Bobby Fischer article states, "By shunning formal competition, King Bobby has checkmated the chess establishment." Rather, Bobby has checkmated himself. Imagine Joe Louis, Arnold Palmer and Martina Navratilova at their athletic peaks declining to compete for a decade. Could they still claim to be the reigning champions? Of course not. The champion must defend his or her title; one cannot rely on memories. It's your move, Bobby.
Garden City, N.Y.
Bobby Fischer's genius at chess is well known. Less known is that Fischer has been used and exploited by many of his so-called friends. He has been misquoted, and untrue rumors have been printed about him.
Sadly, every game unplayed by Bobby is a loss to chess history forever. I wish him peace and happiness.
North Augusta, S.C.
How dare SPORTS ILLUSTRATED publish an article that glorifies a seemingly rabid anti-Semite like Bobby Fischer. The story refers to Fischer as someone who hates lies, evasions and deceptions. Yet Fischer himself is guilty of one of the biggest lies possible if he says the Holocaust was a "myth."
SI, like every citizen, should strike out against anti-Semitism every chance it gets.
Real nice job on the Bobby Fischer piece, William Nack. Right. You track the guy and drone on about it for thousands of words, and then, when you finally spot Fischer, you don't have the guts to talk to him. That wasn't a story at all; it was a non-story.
I don't know who's more weird, Fischer or Nack.
Neither I nor any of my friends ever asked, "What ever happened to Bobby Fischer?" Who cares.
I can't believe you did it. Fourteen pages wasted on a boring game like chess. What's next? Fifteen pages on checkers?
EQUIPPED FOR SPEED
As an avid bicyclist I was thrilled to see not one, but two cycling articles in your July 29 issue (A Good Turn At The Tour and Behold, The 150-mph Bicycle). I couldn't relate too well to the experiences of John Howard, Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond because when I bicycled across the country I was timed by a calendar, not a stopwatch. But it was a pleasure reading about phenomenal feats by incredible individuals.
•Speaking of timing devices, for readers who may have wondered about the instrument on LeMond's handlebars (shown in the opening photograph of the article and above), it is a combination chronometer, speedometer and odometer.—ED.
As a bicyclist, I really enjoyed reading E.M. Swift's exciting article on the Tour de France (A Good Turn At The Tour, July 29). Although four-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault took a gruesome face-first fall on hard pavement, he became a five-time Tour champion. His raw courage and determination are much to be admired.
LARRY CORNETT JR.
Virginia Beach, Va.
Your article confirmed what television coverage of the Tour de France had indicated: Greg LeMond, who deferred to teammate Hinault and finished second in the Tour, is at present the leading candidate for Sportsman of the Year.
MARY VS. ZOLA
My congratulations to Kenny Moore on his fantastic cover story on the Mary Decker Slaney-Zola Budd rematch (Sweet, Sweet Revenge, July 29). I have been a fan of Mary's since she started her career at the age of 12, so as far as I'm concerned, no one is better, not Russians, Romanians, British or other Americans. Although Maricica Puica of Romania, the reigning Olympic champion in the 3,000 meters, was not there, Mary still went out and beat the clock and everyone on the track, including Zola. 1 still say that Mary would have won that race in the Olympics, Puica would have been second and Zola would probably still have finished seventh.
The joy and relief expressed by Mary show that she definitely is back on track. Now she can channel her great talent and competitiveness into a meeting with Puica.
I pulled for Zola all the way.
TED E. LARSON
DENNIS LEONARD'S COMEBACK
The article on Dennis Leonard (A Fight Against Pain And Doubt, July 29) should have been your cover story. Here is a man making $800,000 a year who could just sit back and say, "I'm hurt, I'm gone." Instead, he is making every effort to come back and play the game. Your cover on the Mary Decker Slaney-Zola Budd race should have read SLANEY BEATS BUDD: BUT NOBODY'S INTERESTED AND NOBODY CARES. Stories on human courage, not crybabies, are the ones worth reading.
CHARLES P. OWEN
Jill Lieber's article on Dennis Leonard is a real profile in courage. I wish Leonard a complete recovery and the best of luck if and when he returns to the mound—except, that is, against the White Sox!
EDWARD G. LARA
East Chicago, Ind.
The racing Elliott family (Bill's Driving 'Em Bananas, July 22) has to be applauded. Winning one Grand National race in a season is hard enough, but midway through the NASCAR schedule the Elliotts have already won eight times. Ernie and Dan are proved engine builders, while driver Bill is well on his way toward becoming another David Pearson or Richard Petty.
We respect their hard work and sacrifice but, more important, we admire their honesty and lack of pretension. The Elliotts are a breath of fresh air in the sometimes egocentric world of professional sports. We sincerely hope that they win the million-dollar bonus.
Forest City, N.C.
Sam Moses for President! Finally someone has recognized Bill Elliott (and NASCAR). Bill's thundering 'Bird has made a shambles of the world records. As I write, Bill has just won the Summer 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Come December, please note that Awesome Bill from Dawsonville has my vote for Sportsman of the Year.
COMING TO PASS
"Rumor: Joe Namath will retire as a player and replace Alex Karras on ABC-TV's Monday Night Football.
"Our spies say: If the money can be worked out, probably. Namath was first choice to take over for Don Meredith."
—SCORECARD, Dec. 15, 1975
Now that Namath has been named to take over Meredith's old job, I thought the prophetic item above would be of interest.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.