(Vol. XXV No. 3) November-December 1975


By Guthrie McClain

   For a while it seemed that nothing could go wrong. Tournaments got bigger and bigger, USCF Memberships climbed, chess books were found in prominent displays in every bookstore, and everyone "in the know" played chess - or at least talked about it. Even the chessboards in ads were set up correctly. (We still have a backload of book reviews we haven't had space to print).

   Who was responsible for the popularity of chess in the United States? Bobby Fischer, of course. Whatever you say about Fischer's bad manners, he plays beautiful chess. The way he defeated Boris Spassky for the championship caught the imagination of the public. Suddenly people respected you for being a chessplayer, instead of thinking there was something wrong with you. It was exhilarating, being popular for a change.

   But the boom is over. Tournaments with advertised prizes based on entries have had to reduce prizes. (There are exceptions, of course: The Paul Masson or the American Open, for example). The USCF has lost 22,000 members! The displays of books in stores have gone and it's difficult to find a chess section at all in most bookstores. However, we had a good time for a while. We may have to tighten our belts and economize now that the coffers are empty again, but we're the better off for the experience. Things will never be the same again.

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