Fischer seeks to ban irreverent journalists

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BOBBY FISCHER returned to his most incisive form, off the board at least, in what he sees as the return match for the world chess championship, against Boris Spassky. Before Saturday's third game, Fischer protested in fury at reporters who were not referring to him as 'the world chess champion', demanding that anyone who failed to do so should be banned from covering the match.

As retribution for previous wrong-doings, he wanted all journalists excluded from watching the third game and closed- circuit television to the press room turned off. Jezdimir Vasiljevic, the match organiser and sponsor, was described as looking 'clearly frazzled' when begging journalists to accede to Fischer's request. Even the phrase 'so-called world champion' would be enough, he advised.

Fischer's argument is based on his never having been defeated after winning the title in 1972. When the time came for him to defend it in 1975, and the International Chess Federation (FIDE) accepted only 178 of his 179 conditions, Fischer sent a telegram resigning 'the FIDE World Championship title'. Precisely what title he considers he holds is unclear.

Fischer calmed down when all photographs during play were banned, the spectators were moved further back and a new backdrop for the series was introduced, three times proclaiming the event as 'The World Chess Championship'.

But he was unable to maintain his forceful form once play began, conceding a large advantage to Spassky after the opening. Spassky still seemed to have good chances to win when he permitted a draw by repetition after 39 moves. Fischer said after the game: 'This was an off-day for me. At least, I hope it was an off-day.'

Confirmation that this is not the Fischer of old came when Spassky won the fourth game in 50 moves last night. Both men now have one win each, with two games drawn. The first to win 10 games takes the match.