Fischer's Participation in the 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal

Sep 13, 2015, 4:56 PM |

This comes from "Interzonal Chess Tournament: Palma 1970" by R. G. Wade and L. S Blackstock (published December 1970):

Fischer's Participation

Fischer did not play in the 1969 USA Championship that also acted as a qualifying Zonal Tournament.  The top places went to [Samuel] Reshevsky, [William] Addison, and [Pal] Benko, who thus became eligible for the Interzonal.  [Father William] Lombardy, in fourth position, would be first reserve if one of the top three could not participate.

Yet it was obviously desireable that Fischer should play in the World Championship Series.  He is one of the very few likely to capture the crown from the formidable Soviet grandmasters.  Bobby is the highest-rated player in the world, according to the FIDE-accepted Elo sytem, the Ingo system, and almost any other system.  Wherever Fischer plays, he creates interest by his intense will to win every game.

The USCF had gone to enormous trouble to insert Fischer into the series. The last FIDE Congress had turned down a request to add one or two extra places to the tournament.  Twenty-four players are expensive enough to cater for.  But the Congress gave the USCG permission to put Fischer into any vacancy from the Zone.

Benko agreed to stand down.  Lombardy waived any right in friendly fashion.  The USCF sent along Ed Edmondson, their Executive Director, for the whole tournament, to attend to any administrative problems and ensure Fischer's full participation.  If Edmondson had been at Sousse in time, Fischer surely would have been prevailed upon to complete the schedule there.

GM Pal Benko was subsequently hired to act as a second and analyst for both Reshevsky and Addison at Palma.  GM Larry Evans was hired as Fischer's second.