Bobby Fischer Talking About His Dubrovnik Chess Set

From 1999 to 2002 Bobby Fischer was staying in Philippines, residing in the same neighborhood as grandmaster Eugenio Torre, his close friend and second during the 1992 rematch with Spassky. During this time he was interviewed over the phone more than 35 times on radio stations in Hungary, Iceland, Colombia, Russia and Philippines. Most of them were done for one particular Philippine radio station, a Manila based AM Sports Radio. It was the only station that tolerated his anti-semitic rants as the interviews proved to be big rating boosters for a small and obscure radio station. His interviews elsewhere were usually a one time affair and often stopped on the air for obvious reasons.

(Warning! His words can and probably will make you uncomfortable at some point in the interview.)

On June 27th 1999 in one of these telephone interviews conducted by GM Eugenio Torre, he answered an interesting question from a listener from Mongolia:

"Where can you get the chess set like the one you used in the 1992 match with Spassky or the one that I've seen in your photos analyzing?"

This was Fischer's answer:

"What I played with with Spassky in 92 was the original Dubrovnik set, and it's very, very rare, I mean, it's almost impossible to get one, … To get one, if you can get one in good condition, you know, but it's absolutely … I think it's the best chess set I've ever played on, ... you remember, Eugene, no? It's just a joy to play with, a joy to hold, the definition of the pieces, the design, … it's just a marvelous set, but it's very hard to get, I don't have it.

On photos you see me playing and analyzing, that's another Dubrovnik set, that was made later in Croatia, I got that in Zagreb around '68 or '70 and that's a great set, but they stole it, ... That was one of the things ... That was on the cover on Life Magazine and many other pictures. I used ... That was my set that I always used to analyze with, I took it all over the world with me for years, I just loved that set ... You remember, don't you, Eugene?"

- Yeah, yeah, beautiful!

"No, no! I don't think you ... This was back earl- ... I think the set you saw was another set. No, no, you didn't see the original ..."

- Aah, the original one ... I saw only a ... probably ... just kind of a ... imitation.

"You saw a later one. This is the original one, Eugene, I loved so much I kept it in my safe, you know, like some people have their original jewels and they keep them in the safe and they will use like fake jewels ..."

- Where is it now?

"Well now, ... The Jews took it!"

- Oh! ...

"Yea, yea ... So, that picture you see me playing with, that chess set that you see me playing with in so many magazines, on the cover of Life Magazine and I'm playing with it in a, ... the picture in a ... on the cover of Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, it's the same picture that Bobby ... on a website."

- Oh, okay.

"That set was stolen by the dirty Jews, that's worth a fortune! I mean that set is worth easily hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe more. I mean, it's on the cover of Life Magazine, you know. That was stolen too, and I used to love to play with that ... 'cause the wood was so hard, it was very hard to break it, it was very, very light, perfect for traveling with, you know? And the balance of the pieces, the pieces didn't fall over, and the ... and the design, just a great, great set. That was stolen by the dirty Jews, so ... I don't want you to buy that set, you know, even if they offer ... even if you can afford it. I don't want anybody to buy any of this stuff that was stolen from me up there by Bekins, you know?... Nobody should buy it. Even if it's your intention to give it back to me. Don't buy it, don't play that game. Nobody should ... that's all stolen property. Don't buy stolen property."


P. S. Bobby is talking about three Dubrovnik sets here. The first paragraph is about the original 1950 Dubrovnik (made in Subotica, Serbia) he requested at Sveti Stefan 1992, but never owned.
The rest is about his Dubrovnik II (also "original" in a sense, somewhat rare and made in Vjekoslav Jakopović workshop in Zagreb, Croatia in the Fifties and Sixties — as opposed to cheap imitations made later and still available today) that he acquired in Zagreb in the 1968-1970 and was photographed and filmed with extensively. This set was later stored in Bekins Co. storage facility in Pasadena, California and was later sold at a public auction, because Fischer's account — maintained by a Pasadena businessman named Bob Ellsworth, — was in arrears. Fischer since claimed his Dubrovnik II set was "stolen".
The third set mentioned above briefly was most probably a simpler replica of his Dubrovnik II that GM Eugenio Torre saw him use much later in the 90's, probably at the Sveti Stefan rematch in Montenegro, where versions of the Dubrovnik could be found a dime a dozen.