Fischer and the Border Patrol - another D.Byrne story
I recently posted a blog about a Donald Byrne story about his brother playing a hustler after they played tennis as teens (http://blog.chess.com/danheisman/the-hustler-gets-byrned). I mentioned that I felt I had an obligation not to let Professor Byrne's stories fade, so here's another:
Professor Byrne, Fischer, and the rest of the US Olympiad team were on their way to Eastern Europe which was, of course, behind the Iron Curtain in those days. I suppose it had to be the one in Varna, Bulgaria, in 1962 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15th_Chess_Olympiad). The team met in central Europe (possibly Germany - it's been a while!) and then took the train toward their destination. They had a compartment where the US Team all travelled together.
As you can surmise, this meant they had to cross at least one border by train. At a border the train stopped and was boarded by the military so that they could check everyone's visas and passports.
Byrne related that when Fischer (who in 1962 would be age 19) realized what was going on, he got up and shut the compartment door, mumbling something about "I'm not going to let those Commies....!"
The rest of the group was horrified and rushed to re-open the door to let in the heavily armed troopers. Everyone (well, except Fischer) went out of their way to be very friendly, and kind of quietly intimated "Don't mind our friend over there - he's a little eccentric..."
Luckily the troopers did not make a big deal out of it and everything turned out safe for the home team (which finished 4th in that Olympiad - take link for more info).