The guy who offered Boris Spassky a chair like Fischer's

The guy who offered Boris Spassky a chair like Fischer's

Oct 6, 2015, 6:54 PM |

Many of you, like me, have seen the new chess movie. In case you are out of the loop, I'm referring to "Pawn Sacrifice" starring Tobey Maguire, a docudrama "based on the true story" of Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky's World Championship match in Iceland.

I thought the movie made an interesting attempt at telling the story, although it did strike me as quite sad, and it seemed to me they did take artistic license with some of Bobby's personal life.

You may remember that roughly three minutes of the movie are devoted to a sort of a sub-plot about Bobby Fischer's lush designer chair, Spassky wanting to get the same, getting the chair from America, suspecting it was bugged, and finally having it x-rayed.


The chair also crops up, several times, in the book "Bobby Fischer Goes to War," by David Edmonds and John Eidinow, which gives a blow-by-blow account of the match.  


I live and work in West Michigan, where Herman Miller, the chair's manufacturer, is headquartered.

I'm a journalist by trade and so I was excited about six months ago when I was reading "Bobby Fischer Goes to War" and I realized the connection. 

A contact at Herman Miller then told me the guy who sent Boris Spassky his chair was alive and well in West Michigan and had some great stories to tell.


It wasn't my "beat," so I couldn't really write this one, but I wrote an email and sent it through the right channels within the company.


I don't know if she found out about it on her own, if she read my email, or if Herman Miller pitched the story to her, but buisiness journalist Shandra Martinez recently got to it and interviewed the retiree from Herman Miller who had a hand in the Fischer/Spassky chair thing. 

Her full story went online today at  (link here) and will likely be in a print edition of the Grand Rapids Press sometime this week. She also posted a short video clip from part of her interview, which I seem unable to embed below but is at her story (again, link here).

Anyway, I thought some of the fans on might be interested in the story and video -- especially since the chair x-rays were written up as something of a mystery in Edmonds' and Eidinow's book.

The Fischer/Spassky showdown seems such a surreal event to me, and it's a funny feeling to see such an "aw, shucks" Midwestern American like myself who played a role, however minor, in those strange days.