Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Recollection of Jerry Bilbud

At the 1990 world chess championship in New York City, I got to know the late Jerry Bilbud.

Before the match, I waited in line to apply for journalist's credentials, but they were all gone by the time I arrived. Instead I applied for and received photographer's credentials, not knowing the first thing about photography. At a store, I purchased a film camera, about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

One thing I learned from my experience at the chess match is that, for photographers, camera size matters! It seemed like the bigger the camera, the more arrogant the photographer. Before one game, a photographer with a large camera started talking disrespectfully to me in front of his fellow paparazzi.

I will never forget how Jerry came to my rescue. Holding his camera high for emphasis, Jerry said, "Jim is a national master. I would trade in my camera right now if, for one day, I could be a national master like Jim!" 

The words "national master" clearly meant nothing to the paparazzi, but the size of Jerry's camera impressed them enough that they backed down.