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Fischer and Spassky to play it again for 2.6m pounds

BOBBY FISCHER, the former world chess champion, is preparing to return to the board after 20 years away.

According to reports from Belgrade and New York, Fischer has signed a contract to contest a dollars 5m ( pounds 2.6m) rematch with Boris Spassky, the man he defeated to win the world title in 1972.

The match will take place in Serbia and Montenegro, and will be financed by a Serbian bank. The owner of the bank, Jezdimir Vasilievic, has indicated that the match will be held in open defiance of United Nations sanctions. 'This is more than a chess match,' he told the Belgrade newspaper Politika, 'it's an open war against the embargo.'

Since Fischer last pushed a pawn in anger, he has lived a reclusive existence in Pasadena, California, and New York. His only known creative productions have been a patent application for a new chess timing device and a pamphlet entitled I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse.

He lost the world championship by default in 1975, when he was unable to reach agreement with the International Chess Federation on conditions for the defence of his title.

Since then, Fischer sightings have been increasingly rare, with all rumours of comebacks fizzling out in similar disputes over conditions.

This time, however, it seems to be true. Spassky has confirmed that terms have been agreed and contracts signed for the match to begin on 2 September. Spassky has even received an advance payment. The contract covers 16 pages and includes a clause which bears all the signs of vintage Fischer: If firing from the civil war can be heard at the match venue, then Fischer has the right to choose a new location.