I remember one article with a description, in loving detail, of a lunch where Bobby Fischer orders a steak, eats a piece, and grunts "Good!", like one of those cave men in the Campbell's Manhandler commercials ("how do you handle a hungry ma..aa...aan?").
This was before he started subscribing to white supremacist literature, praising Hitler, and making shocking racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.
It was as homoerotic as wrestling. You sit across from your opponent, stare at him, memorize his face, learn every detail of his physique, the heft of his chest, the curve of his biceps.
Where else can you get away with staring at a cute guy for 10-15 minutes?
One of my fondest memories of my boyfriend Dan is a game of chess. He was a very fast player, rushing to move his piece before I had a chance to take my hand away from mine. So sometimes our hands touched. I still remember its warmth.
The fad eventually faded away, like all fads do. I knew only a few people in high school who played, and none in college.
But for a few years, chess offered a homoerotic idyll nearly as good as wrestling.
(By the way, today's reigning chess champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, is equally athletic, and not racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic.)
See also: One Night in Bangkok