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Former Chess Champion Seeks to Avoid Deportation from Japan - 2004-08-19


Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, who is being held by immigration officials in Japan pending deportation to the United States, continues to plot strategy to gain his release.

The eccentric chess genius is attempting to renounce his U.S. citizenship, gain a German passport and marry a Japanese woman. At a news conference, his supporters said they hope these actions will prevent his deportation.

Mr. Fischer faces charges in the United States for violating international sanctions against the former Yugoslavia for playing a rematch there in 1992 against rival Boris Spassky.

His attorney, Masako Suzuki, spoke at the Tokyo news conference. "Game is over. I demand the immediate release to the Japanese immigration," he said. "This is his comment I was passed from him over the phone today."

His fiancée, Japan Chess Association President Miyoko Watai, says they have been living together for four years, and their engagement is not a sham.

"It is very similar in many ways to a chess game," she said. "And, certainly, yes, I am a pawn. But, of course, in chess, we do have a rule, where pawns can be promoted to queen, and I think of Bobby as a king, and I would like to become queen, and we would like to live happily ever after."

Attempts to register the marriage have failed, because Mr. Fischer has not been able to supply needed documents, such as a valid passport.

Ms. Watai says she doubts media reports that Mr. Fischer has a wife and daughter in the Philippines.

Chess players in the Philippines have appealed to their country's president to grant Mr. Fischer asylum, because he has a family there. Mr. Fischer was booked on a flight to Manila when he was detained on July 13 for attempting to travel on a revoked passport.

Former Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Ichiji Ishi says he has discussed Mr. Fischer's fate with Japanese government officials.

"I had a feeling they are sort of chicken, cannot commit themselves correctly," he saId. "They do not want to make a decision, because they are totally wrong in their understanding or interpretation, because they are afraid of the pressure of the United States."

A State Department spokesman has said renouncing citizenship does not necessarily protect someone from prosecution.

Mr. Fischer became an American hero when he beat Mr. Spassky of the Soviet Union in 1972. But in recent years, he has lashed out at his country, saying he wants to see it destroyed. He has also made repeated anti-Semitic comments, despite his own Jewish heritage.

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