Fischer's mind was still very much on chess. "You know, he still considers himself the chess world champion," Broodthaers said. When he was talking to Spassky, Fischer would take out "a tiny board that you opened up with a zipper around it," and then the two champions would bend over the set. "I think it was old games they were talking about," Broodthaers said. Fischer was eager to discuss a chess clock he claims to have invented, one he said is an improvement over the clock now used in tournament play. He spoke of patents he had taken out on the clock.
Broodthaers said Fischer didn't show any signs of the extreme eccentricity attributed to him in rumors, but she noted that he did speak unusually loudly. "Maybe he's used to living alone, so nobody listens to him," she said. "His loneliness you could feel."
In what is either the silliest or most inspired idea Minnesota Viking general manager Mike Lynn has ever had, Viking players, coaches and front-office people will gather for a three-day togetherness session at the Pecos River Learning Center outside Santa Fe, N.Mex., next week. Participants will, among other things, help one another mountain-climb and cross between plateaus with a rope-and-pulley system. They'll also hold group discussions to get pent-up frustrations about the team off their chests.
Lynn formed an eight-player council in January to try to deal with the Vikings' off-the-field problems, which include player un-happiness with Lynn and numerous arrests of players for drunk driving. After Minnesota's embarrassing 41-13 playoff loss to San Francisco that month, Lynn took the council members and coach Jerry Burns on a tour of the Pecos River facility and set up next week's session. "I'd say before we went, everybody was looking at it as kind of a media play by Mike," says quarterback and council member Wade Wilson. "But we were impressed by it."
Lynn hopes the retreat will forge much-needed unity. "Other teams are probably as skeptical as we were when we started looking at it," he says. "But Fortune 500 companies like Honeywell and Du Pont have done this. If it's good enough for Du Pont, it's good enough for the Minnesota Vikings."