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Old December 8th 04, 04:17 PM
 
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Default USA CHESS

Japanese-born teen youngest US chess champ since Bobby Fischer
(AFP)

7 December 2004


NEW YORK - A teenager from New York state, who just became the
youngest US national chess champion since Bobby Fischer in 1958, says
he is "more sane" than his troubled predecessor.

Hikaru Nakamura, a 16-year-old grandmaster, took the national
title in San Diego on Monday, beating out Alex Stripunsky, 34, in two
overtime matches.

Fisher, rated one of the greatest ever tournament chess players,
was 14 when he won the same title nearly 50 years ago.

Nakamura had already beaten one Fischer milestone last year, when
he became an American grandmaster at 15, eclipsing Fischer by a few
months.

The Japanese-born Nakamura learned chess from his stepfather and
began playing competitively at the tender age of seven. Two years
later he became an American master.

Home-schooled by his mother, Nakamura told reporters that he was
in no rush to follow Fisher's footsteps all the way to the world
chess
championship.

"It's a possibility," he said. "But there's
plenty of time for that."

While Fischer is one of his heroes, Nakamura does not see himself
as cast from the same mould as the erratic genius who became a
national icon after defeating Soviet World Champion Boris Spassky in
1972.

"I think I'm a little bit more sane," Nakamura said.

Fischer, 61, is currently being held by authorities in Japan,
pending deportation to the United States, where he could face a
10-year prison term for replaying Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992 in
violation of US sanctions against Belgrade.

Stripped of his world title in 1975 because he refused to be
challenged, Fischer became an eccentric recluse, known for his
anti-Semitic rants.

On September 11, 2001, he went on Filipino radio to hail the
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as "wonderful
news."

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