Eric Schiller RIP
March 20, 1955 to November 3, 2018
One of the most erudite, passionate and beloved icons of North America’s bohemian chess culture passed away this weekend. Eric had been braving diabetes-related health issues for many years, before finally succumbing to cardiovascular complications on Saturday. My most sincere condolences to his mother and 5 siblings.
I first got to know Eric from my frequent visits to NYC tournaments in the early 1980’s. Though not a very strong master – Eric was already by then more famous for his authorship of hundreds of low quality opening chess books as well as being a great chess coach – I always considered him ‘one of us’: living the bohemian life style of a chess player, eternally struggling to pay the rent on time before the end of the month, but knowing that, no matter what, Chess was going to be the most important thing for the rest of our lives.
We often joked about the quality of his books, which he produced at the epic rate of about 1 a month (the rent had to be paid!). Eric had to endure some tough and unforgiving book reviews as a consequence, but he never took it personal.
Officially, sources indicate that he wrote about 100 chess books, but this is not true. He wrote several hundreds, but for small and by now forgotten editors.
Eric had a very loyal following, including myself who at one time had dozens of his opening leaflets in my suitcases as I trekked about Europe. His opening books were cheap, but we always got what we paid for.
Eric could converse on any topic, which made him a wonderful companion over some beers after a tough tournament game. It does not surprise me in the slightest that Eric was welcomed into the most refined chess echelons.
I last spoke with Eric at one of the Gibraltar tournaments some years back, having not seen him for atleast 10 years before. I was very pleased to see that he was just as passionate about the game as before and that he took upon it as a personal task to promote the game amongst the younger generation as best he could.
I will miss Eric.