'Chess is not like life, it is the same as life.'
Move over, John Rocker. It appears that the world's most controversial sports figure may be back in the spotlight. No, I am not talking about the famous, tattoo-covered, former rebounder of the world championship Chicago Bulls, nor am I talking of the retired, racket-throwing bad boy of professional tennis.
I am talking, of course, about Bobby Fischer, the greatest chess player ever to pick up a pawn.
It is rumored that the man who brought chess to the front page of newspapers worldwide almost three decades ago is back at it. The published claim comes from Grandmaster Nigel Short, who says the two have played over 50 games together online. Short cannot actually prove the statement, as Fischer has been playing under the alias of an anonymous guest. He is, however, 99 percent confident Fischer is his opponent, noting that no other player could make the moves he has witnessed. The claim is also backed up by other Grandmasters'like English Grandmaster John Plaskett'who also claim to have played online against the former World Champion.
Robert J. Fischer first made headlines at the age of 15, when he became the youngest Grandmaster in the history of chess. In 1972 he brought the sport worldwide fame when he defeated Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjark, Iceland for the world title. While the victory was a symbolic one for America, occurring at the height of the Cold War, it was perhaps Fischer's antics away from the board that garnered the most press.
Believing the Russians had fixed the game, Fischer threatened not to show. Still, he made his presence known when he arrived at the match. After struggling to a win in the first game, Fischer forfeited game two, saying he did not want to play in front of television cameras. As a result, the rest of this historic event was not televised. And then, after a come-from-behind victory, Fischer vanished.
For the next 20 years, his whereabouts were virtually unknown. In 1975 he failed to show up to defend his title and was stripped of his crown. Then, in 1992, he re-emerged, with a 19-year old girl on his arm'the first female Fischer had ever been seen with in public'to play a $5 million rematch against Spassky in Sveti Stefan, Yugoslavia. The match, however, was clouded with controversy. The United States government forbade Fischer to play in war-torn Yugoslavia, since doing so would be a direct violation of a defined UN sanction.
Fischer thought very little of this threat. When shown a letter at his press conference confirming this ruling, Fischer took the letter, spat on it and then declared that he had also not paid his income taxes since 1976 and wasn't going to start anytime soon. After a decisive victory in his first competitive match in over two decades, Fischer was immediately indicted by the federal government. Rumor has it he then fled to Budapest, Hungary to live with friends.
And now, at the age of 58, Bobby Fischer is supposedly back, defeating with apparent ease the chess world's new great powers'all behind the safety of a computer screen and an anonymous screen name, the perfect venue for a helpless recluse.
It just doesn't get much better than this, folks.
Even if it is just chess.