Alekhine and the man who stares

Alekhine and the man who stares

The Portuguese champion Francisco Lupi told a bizarre story in Chess, April 1947:

We arrived at Cáceres, a little Spanish town, Dr. Alekhine and I, at the beginning of December, 1945. We were strolling down a road, when he suddenly stopped as if he had seen a demon: “I’m done for!” he said, “It is the man who stares!”

He tried to conceal his six feet behind my four feet six inches. A short distance ahead, a little man with a large smile was waving his umbrella.

I learnt the story. This man followed Alekhine about gazing earnestly into the champion’s eyes, practically from the end of Alekhine’s nose, in cafés, bars, hotels, tournaments, everywhere! He had watched Alekhine playing fifteen games simultaneously blindfold some months before and he had been so impressed that he had been practically unable to sleep ever since. He had become obsessed with the idea that the “trick” had something to do with Alekhine’s eyes which must act by radar or something of the sort; and in trying to explore this theory he nearly pestered Alekhine to distraction.

Alekhine - Pariser Zeitung 1941-02-16
Alexander Alekhine (Pariser Zeitung, February 16 1941)

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