The latest on Bobby Fischer

9/13/2004 – It's been some time since we last reported on the fate of the former world champion, who is detained in a Tokyo prison, facing extradition to the United States. Over 1000 articles have been published world-wide, numerous letters written or editorial opinions expressed. We bring you the latest material – in original and in summary. After all it is currently the hottest story in chess.

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In the past week or so we have received or found a large amount of material pertaining to the detention of former world champion Bobby Fischer in Japan for the violation of a US embargo on Yugoslavia in 1992, when he played a match against his old rival Boris Spassky in Belgrade. We provide this material in summary, together with the original articles or documents, which are given at the bottom of the page.

We have also received a large number of letters from visitors to our site, a majority favouring the immediate release of their chess hero; but some of the letters were also quite critical of our treatment of the news. "I feel it is inappropriate for ChessBase to take an anti-US stand as is apparently evident with the Fischer coverage," wrote one reader from Virginia. "Your support of Fischer is outrageous," wrote another US reader. "Fischer should be tried for his crimes. Nobody is above the law, including former world chess champions."

We would like to stress that we have not, to date, expressed any direct editorial opinion on the matter – much less take an anti-US position. We have simply provided our visitors with articles and documents pertaining to Fischer's detention in Tokyo. It is, after all, the hottest news in chess. Google News consistently lists 1000 or more news stories in English on Fischer's plight. We have yet to find a prominent author who reflects the throw-him-in-jail views of some of our visitors. We will at some future date reproduce a cross section of our readers' letters, where all kinds of opinion will be reflected.

Summary of the Fischer news

Note that you can click on each of the headlines given below to jump to the full documents or articles, which are given lower down on the page.

  • Nigel Short on Fischer's Plight (Sunday Telegraph)
    Nigel expresses amazement that the Bush administration would find it necessary to hound a 61-year-old man who poses no danger to anyone but himself. "Yes, Fischer holds some repugnant political views. So do various heads of state, although unlike them he is in no position to indulge his fantasies. No distant countries will be bombed and laid to waste as a result of his messianic zeal." Nigel also tells of an encounter with Fischer's bride-to-be Miyoko Watai, "a charming and discreet lady of mature years."

  • David Norwood wonders if a good woman can keep Bobby out of jail (Telegraph)
    First came Spassky's letter to George Bush on behalf of the detained chess champion. Now Bobby Fischer, at the tender age of 61, is getting married to a Japanese lady. More headlines, and one suspects this is all getting too messy for the US officials. They were probably expecting a simple arrest and now they are playing a complex tactical game against two former chess world champions with a Japanese women's champion thrown in for good measure. With the world's media watching and smirking. Should they break up this love affair and throw Bobby into jail with a chess set and Boris Spassky? Or should they go back to looking for Bin Laden?

  • Shogi champion Habu calls on gov't to support Fischer
    Legendary shogi champion Yoshiharu Habu, who has the same status in the Japanese version of chess as Fischer had in his prime in the chess world, has appealed to his government to grant Fischer Japanese citizenship and provide an environment in which he can devote himself to chess. "He is like the Mozart of the chess world, and the history of games he left behind will exist in 100 years without fading."

  • Fischer's letter to Theodore Allegra, Consul at the US Embassy in Manila
    In another handwritten missive (on his yellow note pad) Fischer reiterates that the first time he was informed of the revocation of his passport was at Narita International Airport on July 14, 2004. He was handed a photocopy of a letter by Mr Allegra dated December 11, 2004, and his perfectly valid US passport #Z7792702 was destroyed. Also like a sword of Damocles the authorities had kept the daily constant threat of an illegal "deportation" to his death in the USA hanging over his head. Fischer demands that he be immediately released from detention, that he receive his mutilated and destroyed U.S. passport back, as well as a standard replacement passport of exactly the same type and design and duration as the one confiscated from him. Fischer has cc'd US Secretary of State Colin Powell and US consul general in Tokyo Edward J. Mckeon on his letter.

  • Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's letter to President Bush
    The FIDE President writes "on behalf of the millions of chess players all over the world and on behalf of 164 National Chess Federations", seeking Mr Bush's personal intervention on behalf of Bobby Fischer. "We would like to remind you, Mr, President, that Fischer single-handedly look upon himself the fight of the free world when he brilliantly captured the World Chess Championship crown from the Soviet World Champion Boris Spassky in Reykjavik". In view of Fischer's erratic behaviour Ilyumzhinov points out that "in today's world, eccentricity and challenge to established norms as well as behavior which is different from the majority of the people, should be subject to benign moral and social judgments rather than criminal prosecution."

  • Bobby Fischer scores court victory!
    In a press release Fischer's legal advisor John Bosnitch states that as of September 8, 2004, the Tokyo District Court granted an injunction to Fischer barring his deportation from Japan until the court has heard and ruled upon the lawsuit to cancel the deportation order. Fischer's lawyers declared the injunction a big win for their client's rights. Furthermore Fischer's application to marry his longtime Japanese companion Miyoko Watai has received provisional acceptance by the local authorities and has been sent for review to the legal affairs department of the Japanese Justice Ministry as a final step before a marriage certificate is issued. Bosnitch announces that the 'head' of all the trouble is in Washington DC, "so that is where we are going next."

  • Letter from NM Rich Jackson, RTM District 4 Delegate
    According to Jackson the US government is behind the arrest and detention of Bobby Fischer in Tokyo. The US President and the State Department had no legal basis to forbid Fischer's participation in a chess match in Yugoslavia in 1992 (only a congressional law would have made that illegal). No other business, or individual, in the world has ever been prosecuted for doing business with Yugoslavia in 1992. In fact Fischer did business not with Yugoslavia but with a private businessman that happened to reside in Yugoslavia. Bobby made practically nothing for twenty years, after his title win in 1972. The man was broke, what would any of us do in that situation? Additionally, Jackson believes that Fischer is insane, he is a senior citizen, and he is practically penniless. "What is the point of the current administration's plan in prosecuting him? He will win any trial on an insanity defense instantly."


If you want news and gossip, on a weekly basis, the British Telegraph newspaper is a good address. It has three correspondents, GMs Nigel Short and David Norwood, as well as IM-journalist Malcolm Pein. The links given on this page lead to the full columns. Note that you have to register, free of charge, to read the columns. This entails giving an email address and a password for future logins.

Nigel Short on Fischer's Plight

22/08/2004 – It may not have caught Osama bin Laden, but the US government is intent on doing the next best thing: arresting Bobby Fischer. Why the Bush administration finds it necessary to hound a 61-year-old man who poses no danger to anyone but himself is a mystery. One would have thought that humiliating and disgracing a national hero would be counterproductive, but then again scoring own goals is something of an American speciality these days.

The former World Champion's "crime" – breaking US sanctions against Yugoslavia by playing a match against Boris Spassky in 1992 – was victimless. One suspects that he only became a marked man after making tasteless and insensitive comments on Philippino radio in support of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Yes, Fischer holds some repugnant political views. So do various heads of state, although unlike them he is in no position to indulge his fantasies. No distant countries will be bombed and laid to waste as a result of his messianic zeal.

Fischer's latest gambit to avoid deportation from Japan, where he is currently languishing in a prison cell, is to attempt to marry a local, a Ms Miyoko Watai. As it happens, I know the bride-to-be, a charming and discreet lady of mature years. The former Japanese Women's Champion was unstinting in her kindness and hospitality when my family and I visited Tokyo on holiday in 1995. It was clear from our conversations, even at that time, that she knew the American genius, although she was extremely coy about revealing details. Fischer has apparently been living with Ms Watai for a few years. I would have thought that her relationship to him would be more one of respect and friendship than romance, but who knows, apart from the protagonists themselves?


David Norwood wonders if a good woman can keep Bobby out of jail

28/08/2004 – "I Robert James Fischer do hereby irrevocably and permanently renounce my US citizenship and all the supposed rights and privileges of United States citizenship. I will do my very best to get this letter hand delivered to you at the Tokyo US Embassy today. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I am free at last."

After being detained on July 13 at Narita airport, Fischer looked to be in trouble. Now the great master seems to be staging a counter-attack. His old adversary Boris Spassky wrote to George Bush, reminding him of Fischer's achievements at the height of the Cold War.

This was all big news, until we got the real news. Bobby Fischer, at the tender age of 61, was getting married to a Japanese lady. The lady in question is Miyoko Watai the president of the Japanese Chess Association and four-times Japanese women's champion. She said that they had been friends since 1973 and that she had visited him in the US. Until a few days ago they had been able to keep their relationship secret. Now this was no longer possible and they decided to announce their intention to marry.

More headlines, and one suspects this is all getting too messy for the US officials. They were probably expecting a simple arrest and now they are playing a complex tactical game against two former chess world champions with a Japanese women's champion thrown in for good measure. With the world's media watching and smirking. Should they break up this love affair and throw Bobby into jail with a chess set and Boris Spassky? Or should they go back to looking for Bin Laden?

What is clear is that a marriage between Fischer and Watai would be mutually beneficial. He needs a woman to keep him out of jail and she needs to improve her tactics.



Yoshiharu Habu (Photo: Asahi)

Shogi champion Habu calls on gov't to support Fischer

Japanese shogi champion Yoshiharu Habu has sent an e-mail to a government Web site, calling on the government to act with consideration in its dealings with former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, who is incarcerated in Japan facing deportation. Habu, 33, sent the e-mail to the Web site of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet.

"Can't you give (Fischer) Japanese citizenship and provide an environment in which he can devote himself to chess?" Habu reportedly asked in the message. Habu is also a talented chess player, and has won tournaments within Japan. Speaking of Fischer in his message, he said, "He is like the Mozart of the chess world, and the history of games he left behind will exist in 100 years without fading."

He requested special consideration for Fischer, asking the government to stop him from being sucked into a "political whirlpool." "Fisher is a special person for chess. I sent the message through a comments form on the Web site for the prime minister's official residence on Sept. 5 after talking with several people," he said.


September 6, 2004

From: Robert James Fischer, kidnap victim illegally held at the East Japan Immigration Detention Center, Ushitu, Ibamagi prefecture, Japan, cell 202.

To: Mr. Theodore Allegra, Consul of the United States of America, Embassy of the United States of America, Manila, Philippines.

Dear Mr. Allegra,

On July 14, 2004 my kidnappers the Narita International Airport Immigration security guards gave me a photo copy of what purports to be an official letter from you to me dated December 11, 2003. That date July 14, 2004 was the first time I'd ever seen or even heard of that letter. Prior to July 14, 2004 I'd never seen or even heard of that letter. Am I making myself clear Mr. Allegra? I still have no idea as to whether that is a genuine letter or not. But if it is genuine and I have been properly notified in the manner prescribed by the law that my passport has been "revoked" ( which I do not believe is true ) then appeal your decision to revoke my U.S. passport #Z7792702 and request a hearing under sections 51.80 through 51.89 of the passport regulations. For an extremely accurate truthful and detailed account of my kidnapping and the illegal confiscation and destruction of my U.S. Passport #Z7792702, etc please go to the website http://home.att.ne.jp/moon/fischer/ and download and printout the "Statement of Facts" which I hereby incorporate into this letter by reference. However, starting since at least July 13, 2004 the U.S. and Japanese governments working in collusion and in a cruel and vicious premeditated criminal conspiracy against me have committed numerous extremely serious crimes against me. Without even a shred of legality to back up their actions they have among other crimes against me illegally imprisoned me for almost 2 months now and illegally physically destroyed my perfectly valid U.S. passport #Z7792702. Also like a sword of Damocles they have kept the daily constant threat of an illegal "deportation" to my death in the U.S.A. hanging over my head. Obviously under these circumstances it is complete nonsense and madness for any sane person to even contemplate going ahead with the aforementioned hearing. It would be an absolute travesty and/or total impossibility for any number of obvious reasons. Therefore, before we can even begin to seriously discuss the possibility of holding said hearing I demand the following minimum restoration of my much violated human and legal rights:

#1. I am immediately released by my kidnappers the Japanese immigration authorities from my illegal detention here in the East Japan Immigration center lockup in Ishitu.

#2. I immediately receive from the Tokyo U.S. Embassy my illegally confiscated, mutilated and destroyed U.S. passport #Z7792702 back.

#3. I immediately receive a standard replacement passport of exactly the same kind as the Tokyo Embassy illegally confiscated mutilated and destroyed ( not of course a special one time one trip "passport" good only to return to the U.S.A. ). This is provided for by "22 CRF CH.1 ( 4-1-97 Edition ) Department of State" paragraph 51.65 "Replacement passports", which reads: "A passport issuing office shall issue a replacement passport without payment of a fee:

(a) To correct an error or rectify a mistake of the Department.

(b) When exceptional circumstance exist as determined by the Secretary".

#4. The replacement passport must be of exactly the same type and design and duration ( when new ) as the one the Tokyo U.S. Embassy illegally confiscated, mutilated and destroyed one of your new much-ballyhooed "biometric" passports would not be acceptable to me.

Sincerely,
Robert James Fischer

c.c. Mr. Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
c.c. Mr. Edward J. Mckeon, Minister counselor and consul general, Tokyo U.S. Embassy


Moscow, 1 September 2004

H.E. George W. Bush
President
United Stales of America
The White House
Washington D.C.
Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the millions of chess players all over the world and on behalf of 164 National Chess Federations united under the World Chess Federation (FIDE) flag, we write to seek your personal intervention, Mr. President, through the show of tolerance and leniency in dealing with the matter of the 11th World Chess Champion, Mr. Robert James Fischer (Bobby Fischer) now awaiting deportation orders to the United States from Japan.

We all know that in August 1992, when Mr. Fischer agreed lo play a chess match against Boris Spassky in a privately organized and sponsored event outside the auspices of FIDE in Yugoslavia, he violated US law and the international boycott of that country. The former World Champion obviously thought that chess had no other limitations than the game itself and now more than 10 years later, he faces serious charges for his action.

Like most geniuses, Mr. Fischer is not always easy to communicate with. Furthermore, some of his actions and statements are not necessarily in accordance with established norms and traditions. However, we would like to remind you, Mr, President, that the former World Champion successfully represented the United States on many occasions during his chess playing career and that in 1972, he single-handedly look upon himself the fight of the free world when he brilliantly captured the World Chess Championship crown from the Soviet World Champion Boris Spassky in Reykjavik. Mr. President, I have been privileged to discuss the impact of Fischer's achievement with the – then Secretary of State of the United States, an avid Chess player, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who personally took charge of negotiations surrounding the Reykjavik match.

From Fischer's actions since Reykjavik, when he turned himself into a virtual recluse, it is possible to postulate that he is not very well and as he is now seeking sanctuary far from his motherland, we kindly urge you, Mr. President to let the matter lie. At the same time we would like to point out that in today's world, eccentricity and challenge to established norms as well as behavior which is different from the majority of the people, should be subject to benign moral and social judgments rather than criminal prosecution.

We thank you for your understanding in this delicate matter

Yours sincerely
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
President


Press release

Bobby Fischer scores court victory!
Chess champ wins injunction against deportation

September 8th 2004 – The Tokyo District Court on Wednesday granted an injunction to detained chess champion Bobby Fischer, barring his deportation from Japan until the court has heard and ruled upon the lawsuit that his lawyers have brought to cancel the deportation order. It could take as much as a year for the court to hear that case.

Bobby Fischer's lawyers, Ms. Masako Suzuki and Takeshi O'Hashi declared the injunction a big win for their client's rights and urged the Immigration Bureau not to appeal to a higher court. They called on the Bureau to respect a longstanding practice in which it does not appeal injunctions barring a physical deportation until the court has reviewed and ruled on the matter. They warned that if the Bureau appeals the injunction it would indicate that it is treating Bobby Fischer in a biased and politicized manner.

Fischer also made headway on two other matters. His application to marry to longtime Japanese companion Ms. Miyoko Watai has received provisional acceptance by the local authorities at the administrative office of Tokyo's Ohta Ward. The ward's acceptance has been sent for review to the legal affairs department of the Japanese Justice Ministry as a final step before a marriage certificate is issued. The ward office had earlier refused to accept the marriage while the U.S. embassy refused to notarize necessary files. Fischer's lawyers went around the embassy with alternate documentation.

Also, Fischer formally filed his demand for a U.S. official hearing to overturn the U.S. State Department's unlawful decision to revoke his passport. Fischer has completed a written appeal of that decision to be filed with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the US embassy. A U.S. appeal hearing must be held within 60 days.

John Bosnitch, the head of the Tokyo-based Committee to Free Bobby Fischer, explained the expansion of the battle to the U.S. legal system. "A fish stinks from the head, and the 'head' of all this trouble is in Washington, D.C. So that is where we are going next," said Bosnitch.

John Bosnitch
The Committee to Free Bobby Fischer


Letter from Rich Jackson

U.S. National Master and RTM District 4 Delegate

Dear Editors,

This is a follow up to my letter to the editor that I sent to each of you about two-and-a-half-weeks ago. Please note that blind copies are being sent to several other associates of mine. The information that is at the end of this email can be found at www.chessbase.com [articles attached to letter, given here only as links at the bottom of the page].

My statement that the US government is behind the illegal arrest and detention of Mr. Robert ('Bobby') James Fischer is more than substantially backed up. Former World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer has never been formally charged with a crime. None were on the books a month ago when he was detained at the Tokyo airport. Had he been detained in the United States he would have had to been charged with a crime within 72 hours. He has now been detained for over a month.

No matter what the circumstances where in 1992, when the president at the time, George Herbert Bush, the President of the United States did not have the authority to create a new law. The 1992 US State Department's letter to Grandmaster Fischer had no legal basis to deny him to participate in a chess match in Yugoslavia. Only a congressional law, subsequently signed by the President, would have made that illegal.

No other business, or individual, in the world has ever been prosecuted for doing business with Yugoslavia in 1992, to the best of my knowledge. GM Fischer did not do business with Yugoslavia, he did business with a private business man that happened to reside in Yugoslavia. I can tell you that there are only one or two millionaires in the chess world with a population of about one million.

If you offered me $6,000,000, tomorrow, to play a chess match in North Korea, I am on the next plane and so would every other chess player in the world. That is what Bobby did in 1992. He made practically nothing for twenty years, after 1972 – most of which he donated to a religious organization thereafter. The man was broke, what would any of us do in that situation?

Additionally, I believe that he is insane, he is a senior citizen, and he is practically penniless. What is the point of the current administration's plan in prosecuting him? He will win any trial on an insanity defense instantly.

As of today, the actions stated below clearly show that the Japanese government is being pressured to turn over Grandmaster Fischer

I am privileged to belong to an elite fraternity: those who have been awarded the title of US National Chess Master by the United States Chess Federation. Former World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer and myself share that honor together. I must stand alongside my colleague to the end, especially as he has broken no laws. His arrest is for political purposes only.

I not only have made it quite clear, via my letter to the editor(s) that I will not be voting for President Bush, I changed my political party on 8/20 as a result of this matter.

From the beginning of the arrest of Grandmaster Bobby Fischer, I have stated that this was a political detention. Current President Bush wants to show that he is a tough advocate on crime. Frankly, I believe that he is cleaning up his daddy's messes: not removing Saddam Hussein in 1991, the Fischer matter, etc.

Fischer's detention makes no sense. As I stated above he is insane, has no money, and is a senior citizen. What is the justification for the US hero of 1972 being incarcerated?

My Sincerest Regards!
Rich Jackson
U.S. National Master and RTM District 4 Delegate


Previous ChessBase articles

'We want to live together forever'
01.09.2004 She collected pictures of her chess hero after his match with Boris Spassky in 1972. One year later they met in Tokyo – the start of a romance spanning decades. Since four years the two have lived together in downtown Kamata in Tokyo's Ota Ward. In an exclusive interview for ChessBase Miyoko Watai tells us the story of her life with Bobby Fischer.

Dramatic 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.

'Bobby 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.

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...

Spassky 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...

Fischer's appeal rejected
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...

Fischer 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...

Game 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.

Will 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.

Bobby 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.

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