Volume 39, Number 4, April 1984


Bobby Fischer's Literary Endeavor

Bobby Fischer was back in the news briefly when copies of a pamphlet the former world champion had written began to circulate in chess circles early last year. Unfortunately, the 20-page treatise (14 pages of text) has nothing to do with chess. I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse tells the story of Bobby's two-day stay in jail back in May of 1981.

It all started when Fischer, out for an afternoon walk only a few blocks from his Pasadena home, was stopped by police, who said he resembled a robbery suspect. When Bobby's answers to their questions failed to satisfy them, the police arrested him.

While in the Pasadena jail, Fischer says he was tortured, denied food and water, and forced to remain stark naked in a jail cell for long hours. The descriptions are often quite vivid.

A Los Angeles Times profile of Fischer, published during last summer's U.S. Open in Pasadena, reports that Pasadena police had no official comment on the episode. Police say Fischer, originally charged with obstructing an officer, was arrested because he would not provide his name, address, and occupation. Fischer was later charged and fined $40 for destroying a jailhouse mattress.

Fischer writes that he couldn't give his address because he didn't remember it. As for the mattress, Fischer writes that, while deprived of his clothes, he crawled inside the plastic liner to escape the cold of his jail cell.

The final page bears the signature of Robert D. James, "professionally known," a parenthetical note underneath explains, "as Robert J. Fischer, The World Chess Champion."

The book gives an address to write for more copies: Bobby Fischer, P.O. Box 50307, Pasadena, CA 91105. The cost is $1, and a note on the copy supplied to Chess Life asks that a postage and handling fee (unspecified) be added.

Orders are presumably handled by friends. Those hoping to communicate with Bobby through the address should be advised that the Times story also quoted one source as saying that Fischer now charges $1,000 just to open a letter.

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