- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2001

LONDON — Bobby Fischer, who became world chess champion in 1972 and then retired to hermitlike obscurity, has been discovered playing the game anonymously on the Internet against other grandmasters.
The disclosure that Mr. Fischer has emerged from a virtual 30-year self-imposed exile was made in the Sunday Telegraph by Nigel Short, the British grandmaster who in 1993 was the official challenger to Garry Kasparov.
Mr. Short said that he has played nearly 50 speed chess games against Mr. Fischer during the past year.
"I am 99 percent sure that I have been playing against the chess legend. It's tremendously exciting," said Mr. Short. He has overwhelming evidence that the man who beat him comfortably is the same man who defeated Boris Spassky, the Russian world champion, in an epic battle of the "superpowers" in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972.
Afterward, Mr. Fischer disappeared from the public eye until 1992, when he briefly returned to play Mr. Spassky again for a 20th-anniversary rematch in the-then pariah state of Yugoslavia.
Mr. Fischer won a prize of more than $3 million, playing brilliant chess, before disappearing again, hotly pursued by the U.S. government, which had indicted him for breaking the U.N. embargo of Yugoslavia in place at the time.
Mr. Short had been told by a Greek grandmaster last year that Mr. Fischer, now 58, had been playing anonymously on the Internet, but was skeptical.
Mr. Short, however, eventually arranged to play the anonymous opponent and began "chatting" with him over the Internet.
In October last year, in the first of their four confrontations, Mr. Short lost 8-0. Mr. Short is one of the world's best speed chess players, and in 1995 drew a series of speed chess games 6-6 against Mr. Kasparov, then the world champion.
Mr. Short says: "In my opinion Fischer is a much stronger speed chess player than Kasparov, which is incredible when one considers that at 58 he is virtually a geriatric in terms of the modern game."
The final "proof" that Mr. Short was playing Mr. Fischer in cyberspace came when the Briton asked: "Do you know Armando Acevedo?" — an obscure Mexican player.
The response was immediate: "Siegen 1970."
Mr. Fischer had played Mr. Acevedo in the Siegen Chess Olympiad of 1970.


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