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When Azby Chouteau, an amateur pilot from Westport, Conn., saw the Rockwell International ad for a sweepstakes promoting the brand new Rockwell Commander 114 Medalist Series aircraft, with one of the $73,600 planes as the prize, he swiftly calculated that he had more than an even chance. Chouteau designed sweepstakes contests for Coca-Cola and Quaker Oats among other companies, and he noted that the Rockwell ad was getting limited circulation by appearing only in flying magazines. Moreover, contestants had to be licensed pilots in the U.S. and Canada, and this would cut down on the number of entries. In addition, a reader had to write in for an entry blank or obtain one from his Rockwell dealer and then mail it back, and Chouteau says, "When you have two steps like this, people tend to drop out because of innate sloth."
Chouteau wrote in for an entry blank and had a printer make thousands of copies, all of which were filled in and returned. A local lawyer made sure this was legal and, in turn, retained a lawyer in Blair, Neb., where the drawing was to be held, to represent Chouteau.
Rockwell held the drawing a fortnight ago, and Chouteau won the plane. He had Rockwell ship it to him, and it is now for sale at list price. After expenses and taxes, Chouteau will pocket at least a $35,000 profit. He refuses to say precisely how many of the 165,000 entries Rockwell received were his, but he does admit, "Most of them were mine." As Chouteau puts it, "It was a lot better than going to the track."
Like characters out of a Nabokov novel, top U.S. chess players have a knack for doing themselves in by making the trivial disastrous. First there was Bobby Fischer, who in 1975 forfeited his world championship to Anatoly Karpov of the Soviet Union because of an argument with the International Chess Federation about the rules of their proposed match. This year Fischer seized on the same issue to pass up the chance to challenge Karpov. Now comes Walter Browne, the grand master from Berkeley and the best active player in the country.
Browne, who has been the U.S. titlist since 1974, was to play in the U.S. Championship, which began last week in Pasadena. Maybe the site—Ambassador College, Fischer's hangout—had something to do with it, but Browne, already upset because the tournament conflicted with a tour he had planned, began to find fault with the playing hall. The lighting was intolerable; among other things, it was not fluorescent. Then, when the tournament director wouldn't let him move his table exactly where he wanted to (it blocked the aisle, the official said), Browne stalked out, forfeiting his first-round match.
That night, a committee of three players made a conciliatory ruling. Browne could have his table where he wanted it, but the forfeit would have to stand. Browne balked, complaining that this was too much of a handicap. The committee pointed out that Fischer had forfeited his first game to Boris Spassky in 1972 but still came back to win. No way, said Browne.
By departing from the championship, which leads into interzonal matches, Browne gave up any chance to play in the next world championships in 1981, for which he was this country's principal hope.