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  • January 19, 2008

    Chess legend Bobby Fischer dies in Iceland.

    The shock on hearing this was like a sword through my chest.

    I had spent half of 2005, all of 2006 and a good part of 2007 raising money to get Bobby Fischer to play Anatoly Karpov in a match of Gothic Chess. The winner would earn $10,000,000. The person who came in second place would still get $5,000,000.

    (Fischer was adamant that the term "loser" did not appear anywhere on the contract.)

    I could certainly write a book about what it took to put this match together. I raised nearly $20 million over a course of 21 months, but at a very steep price. Some of the match financiers wanted to be compensated, even if the match did not come to fruition, for one reason or another. As the funds came in, here and there, they made sure it remained in an interest-bearing escrow account. I had to agree, should Fischer not FINISH the match (keyword: finish. He was known for entering events, doing well or even winning them right up until the end, and then bowing out without explanation) that I would repay them twice the amount of interest that had accrued in the account. Why that much? They insisted they could easily have made such a sum putting it into other ventures, so I reluctantly agreed.

    Meanwhile, $400,000 worth of interest accrued over the long tenure of the match preparation. We were 5 months away from the June 2018 tentative date for the match to take place in the Philippines at the time of Fischer's death.

    I owed them $800,000.

    Even though they got all of their money back, and made $400,000 in interest on top of that, they still wanted that other money. I had to sell practically everthing I owned to pay them back. And I did pay them back. And I was very depressed over the entire ordeal.

    There is a YouTube interview with me talking about the Bobby Fischer match, and something else Fischer was up to, right before he died as it turned out.

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