- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

Bobby Fischer, the one-time mad genius of chess, is just mad now, both literally and figuratively.

He hates the United States. He hates Jews. He hates the necklace of greatness that was placed on him at a tender age.

Fischer has resurfaced at Narita International Airport in Japan, where he is being held by immigration officials intent on deporting him to the United States.

Fischer is resistant to the change to his itinerary and is employing the judicial options at his disposal.

This is perhaps Fischer’s most important match ever, with his freedom hanging in the balance.

He has an old matter to resolve with the United States, a 1992 match against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia, which was under international sanctions at the time. Fischer earned $3.35million for violating U.N. sanctions and taking up with the ethnic cleansers of the time.

As a footnote from the Cold War era, a once proud emblem of the U.S. against the old Soviet Union, Fischer has descended into a stew of loony observations and paranoia.

His rants against the United States and Jews in recent years reveal a noticeable lack of critical thinking, one of the qualities of a chess player. He mostly stays on the dark side of his lunacy, too much even for a chess subculture that once revered him.

Fischer is a supporter of Osama bin Laden and the bomb-packing, head-removing vermin endeavoring to eliminate the infidels and Jews of the West.

America should be “wiped out” and Jews are “thieving, lying [bleeps],” the 61-year-old Fischer says.

This is a merging of the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, from Michael Moore’s crowd to the anti-Semites working the far ends of both aisles.

The crazy times of Fischer are a metaphor of the post-September 11 world.

America always has had a fascination with Fischer, if only because of his initial genius and then Greta Garbo-like proclivity to live as a recluse, his fall as dramatic as his rise.

Somewhere in the fall, he left chess, took up with a cult and penned a 14-page pamphlet in 1982, titled “I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!”

His sightings came to be in the company of Big Foot and Elvis, newsworthy almost in themselves.

A 1993 chess flick, “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” borrowed its title from his pathology to be out of public view.

His mother was Jewish, an element that would have inspired the neo-Freudians of yesteryear.

Fischer burst into America’s living room in 1972, when he removed the Soviet Union’s iron hold on chess by defeating Spassky to become the world champion at age 29. He was the former boy prodigy, a high school dropout, who came in from the cold, however briefly and reluctantly. By 1975, his reign was over, his reinvention destined to be incomplete.

He had one act, not unlike so many athletes, plus a mindless focus that squandered his prodigious talent.

He soon disappeared from view and came to believe he was the victim of a Jewish-led conspiracy.

His 1992 press conference in Yugoslavia that signaled a return of sorts was dramatic because of his defiance and actions.

Pulling out an order from the U.S. Treasury Department warning of a possible 10-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine if he went ahead with the match, Fischer spat on the piece of paper.

Twelve years later, the American response is, “Check.”

A brother-in-law claims Fischer is the victim of election-year politics, as if a portion of the undecided will swing to President Bush in November because of the legal problems of an icon from the past.

Fischer as a sacrificial pawn is hardly befitting of someone who is arguably the best there ever was in chess, who promised to be the game’s first rock star.

Instead, he came to be bound to a fringe existence that left him irrelevant, except for the anointed few allowed to be in the vicinity of what was once so special.

His is a currency of faded value, his fight in Japan the beginning of an epilogue to an exciting adventure that quickly became twisted.

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