Archie Waters, mentor to chess prodigy Bobby Fisher, dead at 83

This report is from the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

11/7/01 4:44 AM
EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Archie Waters, a mentor to chess prodigy Bobby Fischer and an El Paso Times columnist, died Monday after suffering a stroke a month ago. He was 83. Waters befriended the teen-age Fischer in Brooklyn in the 1950s and accompanied the chess genius to Iceland during his landmark world title match against Russian Boris Spassky in 1972. Waters played ping-pong with Fischer between his matches with Spassky. Born in Brooklyn, he attended Columbia University and later became the first black member of the prestigious Marshall Chess Club of New York. Waters worked for 11 years at the Long Island Daily Press in New York and served as a civic affairs columnist for the New York Daily News. He moved to El Paso, Texas in 1980 and was a columnist for the El Paso Times for about 20 years, writing about community affairs, particularly the black community. During his Army service in World War II, Waters became interested in Spanish pool checkers, which was popular on the East Coast, particularly in black communities. Waters co-wrote two books on the subject. Waters is survived by his daughters, Jean Waters and Onilaja Waters, and sister, Osceola Simmons. Memorial services are pending.


Editor's note: There is an interesting story written by Tim Krabbé about Archie Waters' encounter with Ton Sijbrands, a world champion in draughts (checkers with 10X10 board) from the  Netherlands.

"When Sijbrands became World Champion for the first time, in 1972, he won a trip to Reykjavik, to see the World Chess Championship match between Spassky and Fischer. I hoped to find an opportunity in him to get to Fischer. Word was that Fischer was interested in draughts, and there was a little black guy from New York in his entourage, Archie Waters, who was said to be his ping pong partner, and a very strong draughts player. I could see myself and Archie Waters, envoys paving the way for a historic meeting. But when Sijbrands and Waters got together, it turned out Waters had never heard of him and also, he thought he was the World Champion--in another variant of the game. It was a moving sight to see my World Champion and this other world champion explaining their rules to each other."

Source:  Open Chess Diary,


Read article written by Archie Waters in El Paso Times titled, "Wisest words are often spoken by our mothers," published on 28th of September, 2001.  Thanks to Adrian Ballom of Texas for informing The Chess Drum of  this chess pioneer.

Source: El Paso Times,


The Chess Drum sends sincere condolences to the Waters family.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 7 November 2001