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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bobby Fischer's Wife

     Miyoko Watai, born January 8, 1945 in Tokyo was the Japanese women's champion and the general secretary of the Japan Chess Association. She is a Woman International Master although her FIDE rating is only 2032. Watai, who in addition to being an IM is also an international arbiter, learned how to play chess after graduating from Meiji Pharmaceutical University. A pharmacist by profession, she won the Japan Women's Championship in 1975.
     She had corresponded with Fischer for years and visited him in the U.S. and Hungary and Fischer eventually began living in Watai's home in Tokyo. After Fischer was arrested by Japanese authorities in 2004, Watai was upset because of Fischer's mental anguish and the disruption it caused in their otherwise peaceful life. Watai started trying to free Fischer while seeking support from his fans by setting up The Committee to Free Bobby Fischer. The group also began taking legal action to prevent the Japanese government from deporting Fischer. 
     After Fischer won the World Championship in 1972 she cut out every article about him and began studying his games. When Fischer visited the Japan Chess Association in 1973 to find sponsors for a rematch with Spassky, Watai was selected to give him a quick tour of Tokyo. As a result of this meeting Fischer asked her to visit him in the U.S. on her way to Colombia for the Women's Chess Olympiad in 1974. At that time Fischer was living in Pasadena, California where he was involved in the Church of God. See my post on Fischer's involvement with the church HERE.
     During her visit with Fischer they, along with Fischer's secretary, went out sightseeing and to dinner. They also visited Disneyland and Las Vegas. After that, they began visiting each other and exchanging letters. While Fischer was on the run from the U.S. government Watai also visited him in Hungary. 
     Fischer ended up in Japan trying to promote his chess clock and discovered he liked living there because nobody recognized him and the photographers left him alone. They began living together in Japan in 2000, but it was only after Fischer's arrest in Japan that they decided to get married. Watai tried to obtain a license, but it was rejected because Fischer couldn't submit the required documents from the U.S. embassy. 
     Exactly when they did manage to get legally married is not clear, but after Fischer died in 2008 Watai claimed she was his legal heir and the case began circulating through the Icelandic courts, eventually ending up in the Supreme Court. In addition to Watai, a woman who claimed her daughter was Fischer’s was also involved. Fischer’s body was exhumed and a DNA analysis confirmed that Fischer wasn’t the biological father of the woman's daughter. Also scrambling for a piece of the Fischer pie were his nephews, Alexander and Nicholas Targ. See also Dr. Elisabeth Targ, Fischer's niece.
     Finally, on March 3, 2011, a district court in Iceland ruled that a document submitted by Watai confirmed that she and Fischer were legally married on September 6, 2004 and she was entitled to inherit his estate. His nephews wanted to appeal but it was determined their case was without merit. 
     This game shows a typical game played at the 'Expert' (2000-2199) level. It also shows the state of women's chess when Watai was awarded her IM title...there was a time when it wasn't very high. Back in 1975 when Alla Kushnir, the first woman to compete at Lone Pine, defeated GM Larry Evans in the first round it was news and somewhat of an embarrassment to Evans. These days it would not raise an eyebrow.

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