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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Fischer plans to marry in Japan
A photo from 1992 of former world chess champion Bobby Fischer
Fischer is widely regarded as a flawed genius
Former chess champion Bobby Fischer, who is in custody in Japan and wanted by his native US, has reportedly decided to marry a Japanese woman.

His lawyer said he was planning to wed the head of Japan's Chess Association.

The move is being seen as his latest attempt to avoid deportation to the US, where he is wanted for violating sanctions against Yugoslavia in 1992.

Mr Fischer has already said he wants to renounce his US citizenship, and has applied for political asylum in Japan.

The marriage plans were announced late on Monday by Mr Fischer's lawyer, Masako Suzuki, and later confirmed in a statement from the bride-to-be, Miyoko Watai.

Ms Watai, a long-term friend of Mr Fischer, said she had first met him in 1973 and the couple had been living together for the past four years.

"Our feelings are genuine and are based on our years of close companionship," she said in her statement, adding that the two had kept the relationship "entirely private, even from our closest friends".

"I am praying every day for Bobby's release so that we can be reunited and be allowed to continue our life together here in Japan," she said.

'No effect'

It is unclear whether marrying a Japanese national or renouncing his US citizenship would allow Mr Fischer to escape deportation.

Close-up of Bobby Fischer

The US state department declined to comment on the case.

But a department official told AFP news agency that generally, renouncing American citizenship had no effect on criminal prosecution in the US.

The controversial player has been on the run from the US authorities for more than a decade, after being accused of breaking international sanctions by visiting Yugoslavia to take part in a chess match in 1992.

He was detained at Narita airport with an expired passport, while on his way to the Philippines.

He had managed to live undetected in Japan for three years, sometimes travelling abroad.

A brilliant but mercurial player, Bobby Fischer became a grandmaster at 15 and shot to fame in 1972 when he beat Boris Spassky of the then Soviet Union.

The contest, billed as the "Match of the Century", was regarded as a propaganda victory as the game had been dominated by the Soviets since World War II.

He held the title of world chess champion until 1975, and resurfaced in Yugoslavia for the dramatic 1992 rematch against Mr Spassky.

He won the game, but disappeared when the US authorities announced they wanted to prosecute him over the $3m he earned for playing, which the US said violated US and United Nations bans on doing business in the country.

Mr Fischer has since reappeared sporadically, attacking "world Jewry" and calling the 11 September 2001 attacks "wonderful news".

Fischer to renounce US status
06 Aug 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Chess great seeks Japan asylum
02 Aug 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Japan holds ex-chess star Fischer
16 Jul 04  |  Americas

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