Fischer Cited As Internet Chess Player

LONDON (AP) - A British chess grandmaster is convinced that Bobby Fischer, one of the game's most legendary and elusive figures, is playing again - anonymously on the Internet.
``I am 99 percent sure that I have been playing against the chess legend,'' Nigel Short told The Sunday Telegraph. ``It's tremendously exciting.''
Fischer, an American, fascinated the world by winning an epic battle against a Russian, Boris Spassky, in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972. Then he disappeared, only to re-emerge from retirement in 1992 for a controversial rematch against Spassky in Yugoslavia. Fischer won, and then disappeared again after U.S. authorities accused him of violating sanctions imposed against Yugoslavia by playing the match. He has remained out of the public eye and his whereabouts are unknown, although the Telegraph said he is believed to be living in Japan. Short said he does not know where Fischer is.

Short, who unsuccessfully challenged Garry Kasparov for the world chess title in 1993, said rumors began circulating last year that the American champion was anonymously playing others in quick, three-minute games at the Internet Chess Club. Short said he was skeptical, even after his friend, Greek grandmaster Ioannis Papaioannou, claimed to have played Fischer.

``I could not help but burst into laughter, much as I would have done had my friend claimed to have seen the Loch Ness monster,'' Short wrote in an article for the Sunday newspaper.
A few weeks later, Short said, he was approached by someone who identified himself as an intermediary for ``a very strong chess player ... who wished to preserve his anonymity.'' The intermediary gave Short a special code word and arranged a time for a future game.

``I thought that this 'intermediary' was almost certainly a fraud or a time-waster ... but on the off-chance of meeting the Loch Ness monster of world chess, I agreed,'' Short wrote.

When the prearranged time came, Short was requested by the anonymous player to sign in as a guest instead of as himself. That way no one would know Short was playing, and his games would not be recorded, as they normally are.
They played eight three-minute games. Short was crushed.
``I never confronted my opponent with the question, 'Am I playing Bobby Fischer,' `` Short conceded. But during subsequent games, Short said he asked other questions, and the answers all seemed like they could only come from one man.
``He was obviously very familiar in a gossipy way with the major figures in the chess world of the 1960s - Fischer's period of greatest activity,'' wrote Short. ``He was polite, he was funny, and clearly an American, to judge from his spelling and pattern of conversation.''

Short is convinced that his opponent was the legendary Fischer, and he said that he will always treasure the games they played.

``To me, they are what an undiscovered Mozart symphony would be to a music lover,'' Short wrote.

The Internet Chess Club, based in Pittsburgh, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Short's piece Sunday.

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