The following are excerpts from two telephone interviews conducted by Bombo Radyo, a small Baguio City based public-radio station, with Bobby Fischer in his detention centre in Tokyo. The total interview time as broadcast on the Radio Portal was approximately one hour and forty minutes and contains a great deal of anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism and a fair amount of obscenity.
The first interview was conducted by station manager Pablo Mercado on August 12, 2004 and is 33 minutes long. In these transcripts we have done some light editing and regrouped some of the passages to keep subjects and topics together. We provide you with some sound tracks so you can hear Fischer’s voice and get a flavour of his mood and thinking.
Bombo Radyo: We are on the air with Bombo Radyo. First of all Bobby, how are you?
Bobby Fischer: Not very good. I was illegally arrested July 13th as I was going to board a flight for Manila. I’ve been in prison ever since. They are preparing to deport me to the US to be murdered.
They claimed that my passport was revoked, which was a flat-out lie. My passport was perfectly valid. They turned it over to the US Embassy and they punched holes in it. Now they are preparing to deport me for using an invalid passport.
Why haven’t they deported you yet?
They were waiting for people to be glued to their TV sets watching the Olympic Games. It will be a tiny little story and nobody will be too upset. It is only a question of time: I will be tried, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned, tortured and murdered.
You have been living for a long time in Japan. This is the first time that something like this has happened?
Yes, it is a vicious betrayal. They stabbed me in the back. They got one [expletive] call from the US Embassy and they are ready to sell me down the river. I spent about $350,000 here in Japan, I gave them my time, I gave them my money, spent a fortune on Japanese electronics here, spent a fortune going to Japanese mineral baths. But just one call from the US Embassy and they are sending me to prison in the US to die. It is a really vicious, disgraceful country.
Bobby Fischer at a thermal bath in Japan
The whole process is totally illegal, it’s all based on a letter for the Philippines Embassy of the US, from December 11, 2003, which said that my passport is revoked. They never sent this letter to me, they just made it up. It is a very long process when they try to revoke your passport, you have a right to appeal. But now they claim I was travelling on a revoked passport, which is an absolute lie. I was at the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, a few weeks before, and they gave me extra pages for my passport, which was so full of stamps. This was in October 27th of 2003. On November 6th they sewed in the extra pages. So the letter from December 11 is a total fake. At the time I was still in Switzerland, and they had my mobile phone number. It was a set-up. They confiscated all my things, including some property I had in Florida, where they said I did not pay for mowing the lawns, they stole all the rights for my books, they stole my name, they made illegal movies, they stole my stuff in storage in New York, and now they want to put me into prison.
What are your views on Iraq?
The United States is completely wrong. It is criminal what they are doing there. They are killing tens or hundreds of thousands of people, robbing their oil, tens of millions, I don’t know, maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars of oil every day. It’s absolutely criminal in every way, and everybody knows it. They went in there for the oil and they went in there to dominate the Middle East. And they intend to grab the Iranian’s oil too. And then they call the people who are fighting back terrorists.
Bobby Fischer's friend and helper Miyoko Watai
Are you prepared to face the US courts?
There is no justice there. It’s going to be a kangaroo court, and they are going to murder me. It is difficult to deport me, because the alleged “crime” I committed back in 1992 is not a crime anywhere else. So they made this detour around it by claiming that I had an illegal passport. They did not touch me in Switzerland, which is a neutral country, but waited until I was in Japan, where the US is in control.
So what do we do now?
I think people should go out in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila, and the US Embassy, with signs about the plot between the US and Japan to murder me in America. People should get out in force. Do what it takes to show people your anger. Once I am in the US I will never get out of jail, I’ll be in prison for the rest of my life. My friend Miyoko [Watai] is trying to do everything. She cannot believe how dirty her fellow-countrymen are, her government is. She is shocked and shamed. I have asked for refugee status but they say how can you ask for that against the United States, which is the greatest country in the world, the most perfect democracy. They would never persecute anybody. So I don’t expect to get refugee status, they refused to let me out on bail. They can take me away any minute, to my death in America.
The second interview, which is just over an hour long, was recorded on Aug 20, 2004 at 20:40h Japanese time. It was conducted by GM Eugene Torre, an old friend of Fischer, Boy Pobre, chairman of the Philippine Chess Aficionados and Masters Association, the studio anchor and other guests.
Torre, Anchor: How are you, Bobby?
Bobby Fischer: Fine. I got some good news today. The US says they are willing to come to the detention center so I can renounce my citizenship, take the official oath. That is a good sign. Hopefully this will satisfy the US and they will tell the Japanese to let me out of jail. Then I can try to rebuild my legal status and get papers and passport from some other country.
Boy Pobre: A few days ago we had a car caravan with signs saying “Free Bobby Fischer” and we wrote a letter to the governments of the United States and Japan, asking them to free Bobby Fischer and allow him to seek asylum in a country of his choice. [Reads:] “His continued detention and deportation would be a violation of his basic human rights, as he has not committed any crime. Bobby Fischer is the greatest chess player of all time. He is an international treasure and no nation can own him alone.” But the embassies of both countries refused to accept the letter. In fact we were harassed by guards and military personnel at the US Embassy. We are also urging our own government to take action and invite you to stay in the Philippines, as an honoured future citizen.
Fisher: Thank you. You know, when I was over in Hungary, in the late nineties, the US government made an announcement saying that all American citizens in Hungary and Budapest could not go to a certain hotel in Budapest to eat or spend any money, because this hotel is owned by the Libyan government. “If you go there we are going to find out about it, and we are going to prosecute you and put you into prison.” Can you imagine telling Americans in Budapest they cannot eat in a certain restaurant?
Anchor: I was told that you are really a “super grandmaster” who beat your opponents, all grandmasters, in 20 straight games.
Fischer: I don’t like to dwell on the past. I’m interested in Fischer Random now, I am working on a new clock, I’m trying to make chess a more exciting game today. I am not interested in sitting in my rocking chair thinking what I did 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Boy Pobre: What are your plans if you get out of this? Play chess with the super-stars?
Fischer: No, I don’t play chess anymore, I play Fischer Random. It is a much better game, more challenge. Chess is a dead game, it is played out. Fischer Random is a version of chess that I developed or invented, you could say, where you shuffle the back row of the pieces, not the pawns. Each side has an identical shuffle, so that everything is symmetrical, just like in the old chess. There are just a couple of rules: one rook has to be to the left of the king, one has to be to the right of the king, one bishop has to be on a light-coloured square, and one on a dark-coloured square. That’s basically it. You can learn the rules in two minutes. It’s a great game, and can become the standard for chess.
Anchor: How is your chess clock?
It was moving along quite well, finally getting near completion, until the illegal arrest and brutalisation. Maybe it was one of the contributing reasons. See, whenever I’m about to complete some kind of project, like the book I was working on about the prearranged match, 1984-85 between Karpov and Kasparov, they robbed all my files.
The US government has admitted that they revoked your passport but they were unable to properly advise you of the revocation.
Yes, they must advise me of the revocation, and I have a right to appeal it. They can’t do anything while I’m appealing it. In the law point 51.76, page 254, 22 cfrch.1 4197 Edition Department of State: “Surrender of Passport” says “The bearer of the passport which is revoked shall surrender it to the department or its authorised representative upon demand, and upon his or her refusal to do so such passport may be invalidated by notifying the bearer in writing about the invalidation.” They cannot even touch the passport, let alone destroy it, according to their own laws, their own regulations.
Boy Pobre: What happened to your priceless memorabilia, books, royalties?
Fischer: They’ve stolen everything, all of my stuff in storage, a big room with my belongings, up to the ceiling, hundreds of boxes, filing cabinets, statues, chess sets, my personal correspondence, my chess gamescores, handwritten notebooks, clothing, gold coins, cash, everything you can think of. They just stole it all. It was worth a fortune. I mean hundreds of millions of dollars. I mean just the movie using my name [“Searching for Bobby Fischer”] has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars for Viacom, Paramount Pictures. How much more will they get from all this other stuff. They have photographs, a hand carved telephone I got in Cuba with all the signatures, my chess set that was on the cover of Life Magazine, my pocket sets, private photos I took of President Marcos, telegrams and letters from world leaders, my books, private correspondence, fan mail, my legal files, my clothing, an endless list. A treasure trove of Fischer memorabilia.
Boy Pobre: Are you not contemplating bringing charges against them for all they have done to you?
Fischer: I was involved in a number of lawsuits in America years ago. I never got a penny, I never got a stop order, I never got anything. The legal system is a farce.
Anchor: Bobby, Eugene showed me a letter written from a lady in the United States pleading for you.
Fischer: You mustn’t plead with the USA, you have to condemn the USA.
Anchor: Bobby, how about the letter by Boris Spassky on your behalf?
Fischer: I saw it, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the tone – he was trying to make me sound like a weirdie. And he is begging Bush for mercy? What is this?
Anchor: He said that if you had done something wrong he had done the same and should be put into your cell with you.
Fischer: I don’t want him in my cell. I want a chick. How about that Russian chick, what’s her name, Kosteniuk? This Spassky, he is a very good “frenemy” of mine – a friend and enemy.
Anchor: You are seeking asylum in a third country. What country in particular?
Fischer: In a friendly country. Switzerland is a good country, but it is very hard to get a passport there. You have to wait like ten years.
Boy Pobre: We have written a letter to both houses of our congress, asking them to pass a resolution, that if and when you seek asylum in the Philippines the government should grant it.
Fischer: That would be very nice, but I feel a little bad about going there, because Mr Estrada was pushed out of the government illegally.
Anchor: If you were allowed would you return to the United States?
Fischer: No, not at all. You know, apart from the corruption, the steroids in the meat, the pollution, its just a boring, empty country. It has no culture, no flavour, not taste.
Anchor: What about the Philippines?
Fischer: The Philippines is just the opposite. It’s full of life, the only problem is you have a really serious crime situation.
Anchor: And yet you want to live in the Philippines?
Fischer: Yes, I really would. I’m just kind of afraid, to tell you the truth. You’ve got to get crime under control, you have to have more justice and less corruption. But apart from this it is a wonderful country. I love the weather, the food, the people, the columns in the newspapers, the women, the humour, everything. There is so much humour, people smile so much at you – real smiles, not plastic.
I love your radio stations. You have 30 or more on the AM band in the Metro-Manila area. You know how many stations they have in Tokyo? I mean this is a very advanced country with the best radios in the world. Seven. Including the American station called Eagle Eight Ten. Here radio is so tightly controlled, it’s dead. In Manila you have everything on your stations. You’ve got religion, music, news. You people are alive.
Also there are no nuclear power plants in the Philippines. It is one of the few modern country without nuclear power plants. That’s a very big plus for me. Japan is a great country, but they have sixty nuclear power plants. Japan is an accident waiting to happen. They just had an accident the other day. They say that no radiation was released, but four people died. Plus Japan is making a terrible mistake getting involved in the Iraq war. Almost all Japan’s nuclear power plants are being cooled by ocean water, they are built on the coast and are sitting ducks for someone to hit them with a missile. Plus this is a big earthquake country. You may have a huge earthquake which could smash the nuclear plants and release the radioactivity.
Boy Pobre: The Philippines backed out of Iraq with Angelo della Cruz…
Fischer: That was a very wise decision, I’m very proud of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I want to congratulate her for that.
Torre: In the picture in the newspapers, which shows the scuffle at Narita airport, it looks like you lost a couple of teeth?
Fischer: They were chipped. I haven’t checked properly, because I don’t like looking in a mirror. Like Muhammad Ali, I don’t look so handsome any more.
Anchor: Bobby, is it true that when you were in high school one of your classmates was Barbara Streisand?
Fischer: I’ve heard this. I remember some mousy looking girl. Maybe that was her, I don’t know.
Anchor: How come you and Eugene [Torre] are so close?
Fischer: I met Eugene in 1973 when I came as a guest of President Marcos to this chess tournament.
Torre: Yes, we were introduced, but you said I looked like a hippie or a rock band player.
Fischer: Yeah, you had the high heels and long hair look of that period.
Boy Pobre: Back to your situation today, apparently the Japanese are beginning to follow the laws?
Fischer: I think the US were hoping to ship me out a couple of days after the hullabaloo of the arrest. They were trying to make it sound like I was a fugitive, running around, hiding, with an illegal passport, and that I got busted. Later everyone would find out it was fake, but I would already be in an American prison. But fortunately there were some honest people who would not play ball with the US.
Anchor: Bobby, you are in a Japanese prison, how can you talk to us with such freedom?
Fischer: That’s the one good thing here, they let you talk on the phone. There is a camera watching me right now, there are microphones all over the place. It’s really like [George Orwell’s] 1984. But apart from that they are actually very nice here.
moments around Fischer's deportation
25.08.2004 First the Japanese Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa issued a deportation order against former world champion Bobby Fischer's, then Fischer's lawyers filed a lightning appeal on the grounds that physical deportation would be a flagrant violation of Fischer's right to full legal recourse and protection under Japanese law. Here's the full story by Fischer's legal coordinator.
Fischer and I have decided to marry'
17.08.2004 Bobby Fischer, the former world chess champion, plans to marry the president of the Japan Chess Association (and four-time Japanese women's champion) Miyoko Watai. This was reported in newspapers and wire services last night. Now Watai-san has sent us a statement explaining the background of her personal relationship with Fischer.
renounces US citizenship
15.08.2004 Bobby Fischer has been moved to a new detention facility in Tokyo, pending a decision on his deportation to the US, where he faces a 10-year jail sentence. A lot of new material has surfaced, including Fischer's handwritten renouncement of his US citizenship and a blow-by-blow description and picture of his arrest at Narita Airport. Harrowing stuff...
to Bush: Arrest me!
10.08.2004 Boris Spassky, who played the contentious return match against Bobby Fischer in Yugoslavia 1992, for which the latter is currently facing deportation and incarceration in the US, has appealed to President Bush to show mercy and charity for his tormented successor. If for some reason that should be impossible, Spassky suggests a very imaginative alternative...
28.07.2004 Bobby Fischer's appeal against his deportation was rejected today by Japanese authorities. Meanwhile the Icelandic Chess Federation has appealed to US president Bush to pardon Fischer and set up a petition web site to collect signatures. In Tokyo a "Free Fischer Press Conference" is scheduled for Thursday. More...
a sacrificial pawn?
25.07.2004 Bobby Fischer is still in detention at Narita Airport in Tokyo, traumatised but stubborn, "behaving like a Samurai". At the same time news outlets all over the world are covering the story, whit Fischer's brother-in-law Russell Targ assailing the Bush administration for playing election year politics with the former chess champion's freedom. There's a lot to be read...
of Life: Kasparov on Fischer - in full
20.07.2004 The news of Fischer's arrest in Japan came as a shock to Garry Kasparov, who was in a holiday camp working intensely on the games of his greatest American predecessor. In today's issue of The Wall Street Journal Kasparov assesses Fischer's chess career – for a public that was being exposed to his current situation. We now bring you Kasparov's full article.
Fischer be extradited?
19.07.2004 Chess legend Bobby Fischer, the hero of millions, languishes in the detention facilities of Narita Airport in Tokyo, waiting for a decision by Japanese Immigration authorities on his deportation to the US. We have collected all the documents and reconstructed a timeline to his arrest. Fischer, who has no legal counsel, is appealing for international assistance.
Fischer detained in Japan (updated)
16.07.2004 It's the latest twist in the sad tale of American former world champion Bobby Fischer. He has been detained in Japan and faces possible deportation to the US to face charges for playing in Yugoslavia in 1992. Fischer's website says he was "very nearly killed" in Japan. The story has been picked up by news services all over the world.