24 February 2015

Fischer's Seiko Connection

The most recent post on my chess960 blog, Chessmaniac Comments on Chess960, quoted a long passage from a 2002 essay by Rene Chun. It mentioned [circa 1996?],

Fischer desperately wanted the Tokyo-based watch company Seiko to manufacture his [chess960] products but couldn't generate interest.

I couldn't find anything about Fischer's Seiko connection during that time period, but I did find references from the early 2000s. For example, from Interview with Miyoko Watai by En Mafuruji (Chessbase.com, September 2004)

Q: Why did he come to Japan in 2000? A: He came to Japan to develop a new chess clock with Seiko Inc. I won't tell you what it is, it's a corporate secret. A prototype of the clock will complete in September. It may go on sale later. That clock would be used for matches of other games like "go" and "shogi" Japanese chess games.'

Miyoko Watai was 'reportedly married' (Wikipedia's phrase) to Fischer in 2004, and eventually inherited his estate. A few weeks after his arrest in Japan, Fischer wrote the following note, originally available at home.att.ne.jp/moon/fischer/.

It doesn't appear to have been transcribed elsewhere, so allow me (with some minor format changes):-

August 12, 2004
Ushiku immigration detention center lockup

To the Hattori family, owners of the Seiko group.

I am Robert James Fischer and I am unjustly and illegally prisoned(?) in the Ushiku immigration detention house. They are threatening to deport me any day to my death in the U.S.A. As you know I've been working on a chess clock project with Seiko Precision Co. in Chiba for several years now. I've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars dollars in payments to your company through the Japanese chess association. And I've given of my time and best ideas to your Seiko group. If I'm deported to the U.S.A. the project and me myself will be dead!!!

I would appreciate it if you would immediatelly [sic] become my sponsor for provisional release from the detention center here. It would make a big public impact all over the world and put heavy pressure on the immigration [sic] to accept and it would save my life because the U.S. government wants to put me in prison for 10 years and while I'm there murder me! I would be most grateful if you would accept this request. I am not exaggerating at all about what the U.S. government wants to do to me and will do to me once I am in there [sic] hands.

Thank you very much.

Robert James Fischer ("Bobby" Fischer)

What differentiated this clock from the earlier model, patented by Fischer in 1989? I doubt it's still a 'corporate secret'.

1 comment:

HarryO said...

This is so sad. Bobby was kept in detention like hundreds of thousands that are now in a similar fear for their lives.

I never knew there were Chess960 gems of writing on your non-960 site.