BUDAPEST (Feb. 1)
Chess legend Bobby Fischer has come out of hiding. In retrospect, maybe he shouldn’t have.
Fischer launched into an anti-Semitic rant during a rare live interview on Hungarian national public radio, prompting station officials to pull the plug.
During last week’s interview, Fischer, 55, began waving around photocopies of checks and said, “Those damn Jews are persecuting me. They are ripping me off all the time.”
Ignoring the interviewer’s questions about chess, Fischer also claimed that Jews had invented the Holocaust to make money. When the interviewer asked why he was saying such things, noting that Fischer is himself Jewish, the former chess champion said, “Shall we go to the toilets and prove it?”
When the interview was later repeated, Fischer’s anti-Semitic comments were omitted.
Fischer has long been regarded as an eccentric genius. One of the world’s greatest chess players, with a reported I.Q. of 180, he wrested the world chess championship away from the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in a 1972 match. But he lost the title when he refused to show up to defend his title three years later.
Since then, he’s been a recluse. Indeed, the interview represented Fischer’s first public comments since a 1992 non-title rematch against Spassky, which Fisher won despite having been away from professional chess competitions for two decades. At that time, he said he had not paid U.S. income taxes for 15 years and asked why economic sanctions were not being imposed against Israel.