Strange Days

This story is too complex for me to do it justice, but too interesting to ignore: the Mainichi Daily News is reporting chess champion Bobby Fischer has been jailed in Japan. Fischer, a one-time world grand master who represented the US in cold war grudge matches against the USSR, but has since mostly fallen out of public view and, perhaps, gone a little crazy, was arrested in Japan for passport violations.

John Bosnitch, a spokesman for “The Committee to Free Bobby Fischer,” said the incarcerated grand master is the “victim of a Bush family vendetta.”

The story goes that US authorities invalidated his passport (issued in 1997, expected to be valid until 2007), then informed Japanese authorities that Fischer was traveling illegally and demanded his arrest.

Fischer has been reclusive and mostly unseen since his 1972 win against Boris Spassky. He re-appeared to win a 1992 re-match, then disappeared again, “resurfacing sporadically to offer anti-Semitic broadcasts and controversially praising the Sept. 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States,” according to the MDN story.

His talent and wins have earned him great respect and admiration, but his public statements and reclusiveness have caused concern for his mental health.

Bosnitch, who said Fischer was the victim of a “vendetta” begun by former US President George Bush and maintained by the current American president, was quick to dismiss widespread speculation about Fischer’s mental stability.

“Bobby is very stable, lucid, direct. I don’t see any basis for suggestions of lunacy,” he said. “Bobby is stubborn, but stubborn in defense of his rights.”

[update]: MDN is staying on top of the Fischer story with a special index page. The news roundup is that a Japanese woman has accepted his marriage proposal and his lawyers are working to prevent deportation.