SVETI STEFAN, Yugoslavia - Bobby Fischer, on the eve of his first public chess match in 20 years, today spat on a letter from the U.S. government warning him that he would be violating United Nations sanctions by playing in Yugoslavia.
The reclusive American also declared that he remains world champion and characterized the recognized titleholder, Garry Kasparov, as among the "lowest dogs."
Fischer appeared at a news conference with Boris Spassky, whom he defeated in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972 to take the world crown. They will split a $5 million purse.
Answering only written questions submitted in advance, Fischer charged that professional chess has been dominated by cheating since 1975 when the International Chess Federation stripped him of his title after he refused to defend it.
He alleged that Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov had fixed their championship match in 1984.
As he leafed through journalists' questions, Fischer criticized Communists, Jews, Israel and the United Nations and said he felt ill-treated by the United States.
The most dramatic moment of the news conference, held in a hotel in this Adriatic resort, came at the beginning when he chose a question about U.S. warnings against his playing in Yugoslavia.
"One second here," said Fischer, rummaging through a briefcase and pulling out a lengthy letter.
"This is the order to provide information and cease and desist activities from the Department of Treasury, Washington, D.C, Aug. 21, 1992," he said as he brandished the document.
"So, this is my reply to the order not to defend my title here," he said, spitting loudly onto the paper.
Some Yugoslav journalists and match organizers applauded.
Fischer was asked if he supports the U.N. sanctions, which are aimed at punishing Serbia for its actions in the civil war 50 miles away in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
"No I don't support the sanctions because first of all I don't support the U.N.," he said. "For example, look at Israel. There has been resolution after resolution against them for them to leave the West Bank and so on. . . . They ignore resolutions and never have sanctions against them."
He also criticized the recent rescinding of the U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Fischer has been warned by the government that he faces possible fines of $250,000 and 10 years in prison if he goes ahead with the match.
Asked about press reports characterizing him as anti-Semitic, Fischer replied that Semites include both Arabs and Jews. "I am definitely not anti-Arab, OK?"
As for whether his chess play has improved during the last 20 years since he played publicly, Fischer said only: "Well, we'll see."
Spassky, taking questions from the floor, said he decided to flout the sanctions and play in the match because he disagreed with the chess federation's decision to strip Fischer of his title.
"I think this match is very good politics for chess, and maybe not only for chess," Spassky said.