Two World Chess Champions Face Confinement

Two former world chess champions were in the news this week, and for reasons that have nothing to do with the royal game.

Garry Kasparov was arrested on Saturday in Moscow for leading an anti-Putin rally. He was sentenced to five days in prison and is now confined to “Petrovka 38,” a criminal facility in Moscow. He has not been allowed visitors since his imprisonment and has been prohibited from speaking on the phone. The rally was peaceful.

His arrest—only a week before parliamentary elections—was planned in advance by the authorities. “Of course we are very worried,” Kasparov’s wife, Dasha, told the press, “especially after hearing the police at the court say they had been ordered in advance to arrest Garry specifically. Who knows what they have planned for him? And why can’t we visit him? We are asking everyone to get this story out and to let Putin know that the world is watching and that he will be responsible if any further harm comes to Garry.” The Web site of Other Russia, the pro-democracy movement that Kasparov leads, will have updates on his situation as news becomes available.

The word is out that Bobby Fischer, the pride and embarrassment of American chess, has been hospitalized in Iceland for kidney and perhaps mental problems. The details in the press and blogosphere are frustratingly scarce. Mig Greengard’s Daily Dirt gives the best summary of what’s known about Fischer’s condition.

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