Grandmaster William “Bill” Lombardy passed away from an apparent heart attack on Friday at a friend’s home in California. He made waves in the professional chess world for his 11-0 ravaging of his opponents in the 1957 World Junior Championship, but he is best-known for being Bobby Fischer’s second during the 1972 match in Reykjavik against Boris Spassky. Prior to that match, Lombardy spent part of his career as a Catholic Priest. Eventually, he became disillusioned with the Catholic Church because of its views of celebacy and decided to leave the priesthood. He spent most of his life in New York City where he was evicted from his home and spent time in rehabilitation from an assault.
He was portrayed in the movie Pawn Sacrifice by Peter Sarsgaard. A thorough reflection on his life and achievements is available on ChessBase. Some of his tournament games are also available on ChessBase or ChessGames.com.
There is something special about Russia and its chess history. Whether they were really as vile and deceptive in their efforts to maintain the World Championship title throughout the Cold War there is no arguing that some of the greatest chess minds in history have come from our on/off-again friends in the east. Recently I was browsing and came across an opportunity to buy two editions of a Russian chess magazine called The Chess Herald. One of them is a standard tournament coverage fare and the other is a dedicated issue to the rematch between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1992. I was pleased to see that they are in great condition and even contain some games and beautiful photos of chess powerhouse Judit Polgar! There is so much chess in these two books and I might translate/annotate games here if I can, but I wanted to share some photos first:
I am curious though about the cover art for the Bobby Fischer issue because the character inside the wreath has his mouth open and an expression on his face that seems to indicate madness. Its apparent to me that the illustrator was trying to convey the sense of insanity that had engulfed Fischer for so long at this point.