clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

IS BOBBY FISCHER FISHING FOR TROUBLE?

What could happen to Bobby Fischer for defying the U.S. government and U.N. sanctions by playing his chess match in Yugoslavia?

This is what could happen, but whether or not it will remains to be seen:Washington has been and is trying to stop him from playing. American officials in Belgrade said that they had written repeatedly to Fischer's hotel warning him that he could be fined as much as $250,000 or go to prison for up to 10 years if he played.

The match, which carries total prize money of $5 million, is considered a business transaction by the U.S. Treasury and so a breach of sanctions.

The American officials have said that they had received no response. Fischer, the Yugoslav organizers of the match say, is not unduly concerned by the view of Washington. "Mr. Fischer can stay here for the next 10 years," says Klara Mandic, a close friend of the Belgrade-based businessman who arranged the match.

Boris Spassky, who has a French citizenship and whose family lives outside Paris, has apparently not been pressured on the issue by the French government.

Whatever its quality, the match clearly has its shabby side. It is being played for a large sum of money on the fringes of a continuing war in which at least 9,000 people have died in recent months. Neither player has as yet commented on that fact.

The encounter has been organized by a mysterious Serbian trader turned private banker named Jezdimir Vasiljevic, who is apparently as rich as he is ferociously nationalistic. The New York Times on Tuesday had a long and detailed article about him. Not much of it very complimentary, for sure.

Yugoslav magazines and newspapers have linked him to currency speculation and trafficking of various kinds, including arms dealing, but have produced no proof of their claims.

Vasiljevic, whose recently established Jugoskandic Bank is financing the match, has said he hopes to profit through spinoffs like books and other ventures. He has not responded to a request for an interview with the New York Times reporter.

The match contract calls for the winner to get $3.35 million and the loser $1.65 million. The two former world champions are to play until one of them wins 10 games, with draws not counting. If each player wins nine games, the match, to be played in a specifically prepared basement room in the waterfront Maestral Hotel, about a mile from Fischer's villa, will be declared a draw and the prize money shared equally.

These are the rules Fischer has long favored despite many players' objections. When a version calling for only six victories was used in the Kasparov-Karpov title match, play was finally stopped after five months.

Just what has lured Fischer to Yugoslavia is unclear. Over the past two decades he has received many lucrative offers but always turned them down.

One theory is that Fischer, a man with a huge ego, has been piqued into returning by two recent humiliations. One is Kasparov's recent achievement in passing him on the rating list to become the highest ranked player in the world.

The second was the achievement of the young Hungarian woman, Judit Polgar, in becoming a grandmaster at an earlier age than Fischer did.

Another theory is simpler. It is that Fischer might be interested in marrying his new Hungarian girlfriend, Claudio Mokarow, and she has been asking him just what they are going to live on.

- CASH PRIZE - The United States Chess Federation (USCF) tournament, sponsored by the University of Utah Chess Club, will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, in The Den in the University of Utah Union Building.

Registration will be from 9 to 9:40 a.m.

The first round will begin at 10 a.m.

The entry fee has been set at $12 if received by Sept. 5. It will be $15 for players with USCF ratings of 2,000 or more.

Four games will be played, and the time limit will be one hour for each player each game.

The prize fund has been announced as $300. First place will receive $75 and second place $35.

The highest player rated under 2,000 will receive $40; under 1,800, $35; under 1,600, $30; under 1,200, $30; and "unrated" $25.

Players are asked to bring their own equipment.

The tournament is being organized by Philip Rodriguez. Telephone: 582-8385.

- CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SOLVERS! - Gordon W. Greene, Steven Ivie, Hal Harmon, Enos Howard, David Higley, Steven Jensen, Raeburn Kennard, Nathan Kennard, Steven Kennard, Hal Knight, Frank Knight, Richard B. Laney, Jim Low, Kay Lundstrom, Dr. James Michelson, Connie Miller, Norm Marchant, Lincoln McClellan, Gary Neumann, Roger Neumann, Elsa Oldroyd, Ted Pathakis, Knute Petersen, Jim Reed, Ed Richardson, Philip Rodriguez, Hans Rubner, Edwin O. Smith, Vern Smith, Edward Scherer, Al Schow, Steven Anderson, Loile Bailey, Kim Barney, Ramon E. Bassett, Daniel Barlow, Alan E. Brown, O. Kent Berg, Farrell L. Clark, George L. Cavanaugh, Bobby Callery, Jack Crandall, Bryan Chamberlain, Ken Frost and Ed Felt.