Fischer poserBy QUAH SENG SUN
If you do not believe how much trouble a single hard-boiled egg can cause, you just need to ask former world chess champion, Bobby Fischer, about it. That is, if you ever get to meet this chess hero in person.
Fischer, however, is still languishing in a Japanese jail, awaiting deportation to the United States where he faces federal charges of violating sanctions against the former Yugoslavia when he chose to play a chess match there with Boris Spassky in 1992.
He was nabbed eight months ago by Japanese immigration officials when he was leaving Japan and his American passport was seized and revoked by the American embassy in Japan. But Fischer proved to be a tougher nut than the Americans or the Japanese could reckon.
Firstly, he promptly renounced his American citizenship in an effort to delay the deportation. Secondly, Fischer had the unwavering support of his fiancée Miyoko Watai who had stood steadfastly by him during these eight months. And thirdly, his loyal legion of fans worldwide launched a campaign to have him freed. After all, they argued, what could the American Government hope to achieve by arresting the apparently harmless but eccentric Fischer?
Fischer certainly had friends in high places around the world and Iceland was one country that rallied to his aid. To the Icelandic people, Fischer was their hero because of his celebrated chess match against Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972. But short of offering him Icelandic citizenship, the Icelandic government approved a special foreigner’s passport for Fischer which would have allowed him to leave Japan and travel around freely in most parts of Europe. Iceland even sent two groups of official representatives to escort Fischer out of Japan.
It would have been a satisfying end to this saga but for the fact that the Japanese Government still refused to let Fischer go. Instead, he ended up being placed in solitary confinement for four days, all because of a single hard-boiled egg. Apparently, Fischer had not been given an egg for his breakfast. He grabbed a guard by his shirt to ask him, but the garment ripped. A group of about 14 or 15 guards then came into Fischer”s cell to drag him away. When he resisted their efforts, the guards slapped handcuffs on him with his hands behind his back, holding him that way for two hours.
A middle-aged guard approached Fischer, told him he had to behave himself, then started to free him from his bindings. When the handcuffs were released, another scuffle broke out and a guard was hit in the face, breaking his nose. Fischer was then promptly placed in solitary confinement.
Fischer would have been 62 years old two days ago. His supporters had hoped that he would be freed before then, but at this point of writing, it looked very unlikely. Rather, if Fischer is not freed by today, he has instructed his supporters and lawyers to sue the Japanese Ministry of Justice and Immigration Bureau.
According to his lead lawyer, Masako Suzuki, there are no legal grounds to detain Fischer further. However, the Japanese immigration has refused to say anything and their only argument was that Iceland’s invitation to Fischer was irrelevant to his case.
Up next: National age-group
This year’s national age-group chess championship starts tomorrow at the Wilayah Complex in Kuala Lumpur. Organised by the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF), this three-day championship will see some of the best junior players in the country competing in 12 separate age-group events for boys and girls, namely, the under-20, under-16, under-14, under-12, under-10 and under-8. According to the MCF, the winners of the various events will be considered for selection to the Asean and Asian-levels age-group chess events, subject to MCF regulations.
Sri Aman junior chess
The SK Sri Aman in Penang will hold a junior open tournament at their school on March 19. The seven-round event will constitute the first leg of Penang”s junior chess circuit for this year.
Entry fees for members of the Penang Chess Association are RM10 for under-16 players and RM8 for under-12 players. Non-members are required to pay RM15 and RM13 respectively. According to the organisers, this event will have five age-group categories: under-16, under-14, under-12, under-10 and under-8. Please direct inquiries toEoh Hook Kim (04-826 0196) or Eoh Thean Keat (016-454 0070).
Seremban Parade chess
The Malaysian Chess Federation and Seremban Parade will jointly organise this year’s Seremban Parade age-group tournament for under-18 and under-12 categories on March 19 and the Seremban Parade open tournament on March 20.
For the age-group event, entry fees are RM15 for under-18 and RM10 for under-12. For the open event, all players are charged RM15 except for under-12 players who need to pay only RM10. For inquiries or registration, contact Amy Yap of Seremban Parade (06-764 8282/ fax: 06-761 9177) or Greg Lau (012-902 0123).
Selangor junior grand prix
The Chess Association of Selangor (CAS) will organise the second leg of their Royal Selangor junior grand prix tournament on March 19-20 at the Sunway College.
Grand Prix points won from this event will be accumulated with points from the first and third legs (to be played on April 2-3) and at the end of this junior grand prix, the top 40 players will qualify for the Final on April 23-24. According to the CAS, the top 10 players from the Final will be eligible to take part in the association’s annual chess camp which, this year, will be conducted by Australian grandmaster Ian Rogers in May.
Entry fees are RM15 for CAS members and RM25 for non-members. For inquiries or reservations in this event and the chess camp, contact Lim Tse Pin (012-2984922) or e-mail email@example.com.
The Union High School Chess Club in Penang will organise an eight-round open tournament at their school hall on March 27. There are eight cash prizes with a first prize of RM200. Entry fees for members of the Penang Chess Association are RM15 for adults, RM10 for under-18 players and RM7 for under-12 players. For non-members, the entry fees are RM20, RM15 and RM10 respectively. For more details or to register, contact Beh Sze Ping (04-2290595), Lee Kar Kheng (04-2282761) or Lim Jiin Ying (04-6569478).