Author and chess collector, Lawrence Totaro, 26, resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, and enjoys playing the piano, drawing, and researching chess materials. We spoke recently about his new book, Fisching for Forgeries, a guide to determining the authenticity of the signature of the late chess legend, Bobby Fischer.
ephemera: Tell me about the Fisching for Forgeries. How did the project begin?
Totaro: Fisching for Forgeries did not have a preconceived, intentional beginning. After three years of corresponding with collectors and researchers, material began to build regarding the Bobby Fischer autograph. Observing and comparing these items with those discovered on eBay, it became clearly apparent that introspection needed to be conducted and Fisching for Forgeries was the result, not something a process to be completed.
Totaro: A major challenge encountered in the research was the discovery of variation after another in an attempt to establish a set autograph. As stated in the book, there have been eleven variations discovered and when these variations kept occurring; it was quite hard to assemble an objective autograph. Establishing a comparable foundation was quite difficult but with sufficient amount of quality material followed by proper guidance from fellow colleagues, it was clear that overcoming this obstacle was highly probable.
ephemera: What discoveries did you make along the way?
Totaro: When one conducts research, it is natural to ponder through various sources to see if proper research has been already attempted. Whether that research has been conducted by an “expert” or an “authority” it becomes quite clear that one establishes a foundation, or better yet, a place to begin. In this project, there were no “authoritative” or so called, “experts” to rely upon and so the beginning of a foundation was created. It should be noted that a little pamphlet such as Fisching for Forgeries does not answer any questions or offer an “expert” opinion; it is merely a foundation for others to build upon. Whether this foundation is helpful, that is up to future researchers to decide.
ephemera: I recently read the fascinating book, Bobby Fisher Goes to War. Beyond his brilliance at Chess, Fischer is such an interesting character. What does the book tell us about the Bobby Fischer and his career?
Totaro: Fisching for Forgeries will not discuss the chess career of Bobby Fischer. The grapholigcal analysis written by Sheila Lowe is the only section of the book that attempts to deliver an understanding of Fischer’s personality. [It should be noted to readers that a site has compiled such books on Fischer and/or his career. For quick web access, visit this page by chess researcher, Bill Wall.]
ephemera: Who is the audience for the book, and what will they gain by reading it?
Totaro: Collectors of chess autographs and researchers of Bobby Fischer’s autograph should be the direct audience of Fisching for Forgeries. However, collectors from other areas should be able to understand the need to deepen their insight before making a purchase.
ephemera: Thank you, Lawrence. I'm glad we had the chance to discuss your book. I know a lot of autograph collectors will want to check it out. [To read a review of the book written by chess enthusiast, Phil Innes, click here.]
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