Endgame for king of chess, after 12 years on the run


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Bobby Fischer's flight from US justice ends in Tokyo

Justin McCurry in Tokyo and Stephen Moss
Saturday July 17, 2004
The Guardian

When Bobby Fischer returned to New York after winning the world chess championship in Reykjavik in 1972, he was presented with the keys to the city. Now, after more than 10 years in exile, all the US authorities are offering their wayward son is a prison cell.
And they will hang on to the keys.
The US government's 12-year pursuit of Fischer, considered by many to be the greatest player in chess history, ended this week when he was detained by immigration authorities in Tokyo for trying to leave Japan using an invalid passport.
Fischer, 61, was detained at Narita international airport on Tuesday as he prepared to board a flight to the Philippines, though his detention was made public yesterday. He faces deportation to America.
The US government has been trying to corner the chess legend since 1992, when he took part in a match - a rerun of his 1972 clash with the former Russian world champion Boris Spassky - in Yugoslavia in violation of UN sanctions.
But he had eluded capture by living a peripatetic existence in Hungary, the Philippines and Japan, staying in the homes of friends or in anonymous hotels.
It is not known when - or why - Fischer moved to Japan. He is reportedly a fan of the country's food and revels in the anonymity of Tokyo. He was using the postal address of the Japan Chess Association late last year, but is thought to have continued to travel abroad regularly to avoid arrest.
Fischer faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty of sanctions busting.
Old foe
The 1992 match was played at the height of the Yugoslavian civil war on the island of Sveti Stefan off the coast of Montenegro, and was funded by a Serbian business tycoon who built his fortune in pyramid schemes and went bust the following year.
Fischer had not played competitive chess for two decades and his return against his old foe was a media sensation. Chess aficionados, however, were less impressed by the quality of the play.
Money had been the lure for both players, and in beating Spassky easily, as he had back in 1972, Fischer was said to have earned $3.3m (£1.8m). He spent much of the next year holed up in Belgrade and, in his absence, was indicted by a grand jury in Washington for "trading with the enemy".
Just before the start of the 1992 match, Fischer received an official letter from the US authorities warning him that if he played he would be liable to legal action. He spat on it.
Fischer has not visited the US since; he even missed the funerals of his mother and sister.
The alleged willingness to trade with the Serbian enemy paled into insignificance in US eyes, however, in the hours after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC in 2001.
In a live interview on Filipino radio, he celebrated the news of the tumbling of the twin towers.
"This is all wonderful news," he raved. "I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians, just slaughtering them, for years. Robbing them and slaughtering them. Nobody gave a shit. Now it's coming back to the US. Fuck the US. I want to see the US wiped out. Death to the US."
Fischer has a penchant for radio rage, and Filipino radio is his medium of choice.
"America is totally under the control of the Jews," he said in a 1999 interview with a radio station in Baguio city. "I mean, look what they're doing now in Yugoslavia."
In chess circles a frequently asked question is: "Is Fischer mad?" And this may indeed become an issue for the US courts if he is deported.
He has never really moved on from 1972: he still believes he is world champion (though he refused to defend his crown) and has never quite come to terms with the end of the cold war.
He is reported to have had all the fillings from his teeth removed because he feared the Russians were transmitting radio signals to his brain.
Spassky reported him to be normal and businesslike at their two-month encounter in 1992, though the list of requirements Fischer filed to the Serbian organisers was the champion lunatic at his battiest: he wanted 15 armed bodyguards, demanded a particular type of chess table and even specified the height of the toilets.
"We spent a day with his lawyer discussing the knight," said one official. "Fischer said the horse's nose was too long." Fischer abandoned competitive play immediately after winning the title in 1972. He passed up the chance of millions of dollars worth of endorsements, forfeited his title in 1975 and turned his back on chess. He became a devotee of the Worldwide Church of God, though later claimed they had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from him.
His behaviour became increasingly erratic and in 1981 he was arrested and held for 48 hours on suspicion of bank robbery. Fischer, who had refused to give his real name to the police, was furious and produced a pamphlet called I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!
Fischer loathes authority and doesn't believe normal rules apply to him. "I'm Bobby Fischer and I'm a genius," he once told a young Hungarian in an attempt to persuade her to dump the "ordinary guy" to whom she was engaged and marry him instead. It didn't work, and there seems no reason to believe his brand of self-justification will save him from deportation.
Fischer's supporters in Japan have begun a last-ditch campaign to find a country willing to grant him political asylum. One possibility is the Philippines; Fischer is reported to have fathered a child in Manila and has close friends in the country.
But the US is likely to put pressure on the Filipino government to withhold asylum.
"We are frantically looking for somewhere, but it is going to be very difficult," said Miyoko Watai, acting president of the Japan Chess Association. Ms Watai, a friend of Fischer's since 1973, said the former champion had no idea his passport had been rescinded until he was detained.
"Poor Bobby," said the Filipino grandmaster Eugene Torre, a longtime friend of Fischer, when he heard of his detention yesterday.
The rest of the chess world will echo his sympathy for its fallen icon, whose restless odyssey may be coming to an end.

aficionado – miłośnik, kibic
alleged – rzekomy
to applaud – pochwalać
to bust – rozwalać, zakłócać
to go bust – bankrutować
capture – pojmanie
Chess – szachy
to corner – przypierać do muru
to detain - zatrzymać
devotee – wierny (jakiegoś kościoła)
to elude – umykać
erratic – chaotyczny
endorsement – poparcie
Exile – wygnanie
existence – egzystencja, żywot
filling – wypełnienie
frantically – gorączkowo
foe – wróg
to forfeit – zrzekać się
funeral – pogrzeb
hang on to – trzymać coś
to hole up – zaszywać się
to indict – stawiać kogoś w stan oskarżenia
invalid – nieważny
Justice – wymiar sprawiedliwości
last-ditch – ostateczny
to loath – nienawidzieć
lunatic at his battiest – szaleniec w największym obłędzie
pamphlet - broszura
penchant – skłonność
peripatetic – wędrowny
pursuit – pościg
pyramid schemes – program pyramid finansowych
to rescind – unieważniać
restless – niespokojny
revel – popijawa, zabawa
sanctions - sankcje
to slaughter – zarzynać
tycoon – potentat, magnat
tumbling – upadek
wayward – krnąbrny
withhold – odmawiać


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