Chess Books at Auction

April 10, 2018

I am indebted to Michael Clapham's blog for information about the Bonham's sale of two Fischer books inscribed to William Lombardy:

See Bonhams:

Lot 1076

FISCHER, BOBBY. 1943-2008

"An outstanding collection of items relating to Fischer's epic victory over Boris Spassky (b.1937) at the World Championships in 1972, including an original watercolor by Halldor Petursson of Fischer and Spassky, as follows:

1. My 60 Memorable Games. New York: Simon and Schuster, (1969). 8vo. Some wear to jacket.
FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED TO HIS COACH BILL [LOMBARDY] ON THE OCCASION OF HIS FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, "thanks a lot for your help and patience." Annotated and signed by Lombardy, "Sept 1st, 1972/ First autograph of Bobby Fischer as World Champion." Bill Lombardy was Fischer's coach from the age of 11 1/2 through the World Championships of 1972, ending on September 1st when Fischer famously defeated Boris Spassky, an event, Garry Kasparov noted, "treated on both sides of the Atlantic as a crushing moment in the... cold war."

2. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. New York: Basic Systems, (1966). Illustrated boards, without d.j. as issued. Cracking to joints, some soiling.
FIRST EDITION, SIGNED BY FISCHER, BILL LOMBARDY'S COPY, with his signature to paste-down.

3. Signed traveller's check ("Bobby Fischer"), accomplished in Fischer's hand to Bill Lombardy, and endorsed by Lombardy to the verso.

4. Five Icelandic postal covers, each signed by both Fischer and Lombardy, dated 2.VII.1972 to 1.IX.1972 and numbered, with various representations of Fischer-Spassky, and including one dated the day of Fischer's momentous victory.

5. Original watercolor by Halldor Petursson, depicting Fischer and Spassky, along with Lombardy, lettered in English, pen and ink with watercolor, 367 x 478 mm, inscribed by the artist to "Grandmaster William Lombardy", Reykjavik, July 1972, lower right, small tear to left hand margin, not affecting image.
BEAUTIFUL WATERCOLOR DEPICTING A VICTORIOUS FISCHER emerging from a doorway marked "Ping Pong" and being tended to by Lombardy, while a beaten and worn Spassky stumbles away, cradling his crown. Petursson created some of the most iconic images of the World Championships with a series of 18 cartoons published as post cards. He annotates "(Rev) William Lombardy" beneath his image, and inscribes the painting in the month of their first matches at the world Championships. As Spassky won the first match, and was awarded the second on a forfeit, one can only imagine that this was accomplished only after Fischer beat Spassky for the first time in his life in game 3, before going undefeated in the next six matches throughout late July."

There are good photos of the items on the Bonhams site.

The lot sold for Sold for US$ 1,875 (CA$ 2,396) inc. premium, which I consider a bargain.

Michael adds this note: "Lombardy's inscribed copy of My 60 Memorable Games was sold, along with some other items, at Bonhams, New York last December for $1,875. I understand that this copy of Fischer's book is now being advertised for sale for $50,000!"

On the Bonham's site there is an old auction, from June 10, 2009

Lot 3372

"Library of books and documents derived from the Pasadena storage unit where Fischer's belongings were held after 1992. Fischer had defied the U.N. embargo against travel to Yugoslavia for his re-match against Boris Spassky and never again returned to the U.S."