Remembering Bobby Fischer Skip to content

Remembering Bobby Fischer

On the day after Bobby Fischer’s death it was clear that Icelanders felt they had lost a friend. Many had grown accustomed to seeing this bearded man in central Reykjavík. Even though he was a very private man who kept to himself it is clear that he had a small group of very good friends. Those remembered him yesterday with fondness even though they made it clear that he had been very difficult at times.

Grandmaster Helgi Ólafsson writes in Morgunbladid: “A few days after Fischer came to Iceland [in 2005] I went with Saemundur Pálsson [Fischer’s Icelandic close friend] to the same hotel room that Bobby had used during the “match of the Century”. It was not difficult to meet a man who had been part of my life for decades for the first time. Bobby was extremely happy the first days and months in Iceland.”

Helgi goes on to tell of a fishing trip with two Icelandic friends and Fischer in August 2005. Fischer was unhappy at the beginning because of his troubles with the Swiss bank UBS. But as soon as they reached the fishing hut Fischer had regained his happiness and after five minutes of fishing had had his first fish, a six pounder. This was enough for Fischer, he did not try again.

The sad song

That same night the four started singing old pop songs and Fischer knew more or less all the words. When they sang “Green, green grass of home” Bobby explained that the lyrics had a certain similarity to his own sad life. Later that same night Fischer was delighted to see the northern lights.

When he came back to Reykjavík he proudly gave his girlfriend MiyakoWatai the fish to cook.

Helgi Ólafsson says that Fischer liked to listen to the BBC news and was very interested in history. He often went to the movies but seldom to bars. He was a good snooker player and once won two frames from an Icelandic master in the game. His favorite music was soul and blues. Jackie Wilson and when Pattie Smith came to Iceland the two discussed music for two hours.

Helgi ends his article by writing: “I believe the in spite of everything people can be very happy to have started the project of freeing Bobby Fischer from a Japanese jail. His ‘crime’ was to play chess again after 20 years. When he came to Iceland he had been a fugitive for 12 years. He found a shelter in Iceland and was happy here most of the time because the media left him alone.”

Fischer was also remembered by Justice Minister Björn Bjarnason one of the strongest supporter of military cooperation with the US through the years. He is proud of the fact that Icelanders gave Fischer citizenship when other governments did not dare to do so, fearing the wrath of the Americans.

Daily newspapers Morgunbladid and Fréttabladid both write leaders about Fischer speak with admiration of his accomplishments on the chessboard. A daily column in Morgunbladid usually devoted to politics, now contains only his 13th game against Boris Spassky in 1972. No comments.

See also our article on January 18 | Bobby Fischer Passes Away

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