Easter editorializing on Fischer's escape

3/29/2005 – Thursday night Bobby Fischer arrived in Iceland, looking haggard after a detention of almost nine months in Japan. Over the Easter weekend journalists all over the world have sat down to write down their own personal views on the case. From the hundreds of articles that have appeared in the world press, here are a few of the more striking ones.

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28.03.2005: Shame of Iceland

The passage of the citizenship act means freedom and sanctuary for Mr. Fischer, who had been detained in Japan for eight months while the United States sought him for violating sanctions against Yugoslavia during the Balkan war. But it also marks a sad day for Iceland, which actively associated itself with a man who has long since left decency behind. Of such true Icelanders we hope there are few.

Mr. Fischer's triumphs at the chessboard are beyond dispute. Icelanders may choose to remember the height from which Mr. Fischer fell. But the Parliament of a democratic nation ought not to ignore the depths to which he has fallen since he walked away from glory. Mr. Fischer, clearly deeply unbalanced, should perhaps be considered a subject of pity, rather than hatred. But he should certainly not be a subject of legislative honor – not unless his new countrymen want their nation shamed every time this chessman opens his mouth. [Full article]


Fischer latest individualist immigrant to Iceland

New Icelandic citizen Bobby Fischer is volatile, uncompromising and defiantly eccentric. He should fit right in. Tiny, wind-lashed Iceland has long drawn artists, loners and dreamers attracted by its remoteness, empty spaces and otherworldly, lava-strewn landscape – the very conditions that kept most migrants away and helped forge the proud, independent Icelandic character. "There's a respect for individual autonomy here," said Tirado, 45, who writes, studies and teaches meditation classes to Icelanders. "In Iceland, you're free enough to be rude. They tolerate anybody, though that doesn't mean they approve." [Full story]


28.03.2005: Personality of the week: Bobby Fischer

Kidnapped in Japan and hounded by Washington for political reasons. Welcome to George W. Bush's version of Freedom and Democracy. After eight long months in a Japanese prison cell, after being brutalized, beaten and kidnapped at Narita International airport, by a Japanese Ministry of Justice apparently controlled by Washington, Bobby Fischer is on his way to Iceland, where in 1972 he beat the Soviet Chess Champion Boris Spassky, to become the first American to win the world chess title. It is a telling statement on Washington's policy that a man who would be classified as a national hero in any other country, has to carry an Icelandic passport to avoid a ten-year prison sentence in the USA for violating the travel embargo.

Why is there so much animosity towards Bobby Fischer in George Bush's USA? Because he classified Bush as a war criminal who should be hanged, due to his murderous campaign in Iraq in which tens of thousands of innocent civilians were slaughtered in the name of freedom and democracy. Fischer, intelligent enough to become world chess champion and intelligent enough to see through the shock and awe politics of George Bush, is living like a recluse as an Icelandic citizen, just because he told the truth. [Full article by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey]


28.03.2005: Bobby and me

Stephen Moss tracks down the freed chess genius Bobby Fischer: I have tried for years to meet Fischer, as he zigzagged between the US, Germany, Hungary, the Philippines and Japan. Now, finally, I have him to myself in an airport departure lounge for four hours. Then catastrophe. The Channel 2 TV station have bought up the rights to Fischer; he and [fiancée Miyoko] Watai are bundled into a van and driven away. The Icelandic journalists are furious with Channel 2, especially the man from Channel 1, whose job may be on the line.

Fischer's is a world of tiny details; it is the bigger picture that eludes him, so he falls back on one stupid overarching theory – the world Jewish conspiracy. The Icelandic view that he is a lovable eccentric is a cop-out. He is a paranoid fantasist. But he is deluded not dangerous; Howard Hughes rather than Adolf Hitler. Former British champion Bill Hartston once observed that "chess doesn't drive people mad, it keeps mad people sane".

Fischer has finished lunch, trimmed his beard, had a haircut. He has decided to give a press conference to the 20 or so journalists camped in the lobby. The presence of American sports journalist Jeremy Schaap adds a frisson. He is the son of Dick Schaap, a New Yorker who was a close friend of the young Bobby but later declared that Fischer was mad. Fischer quickly makes the connection (Schaap's TV channel, sports broadcaster ESPN, may have planned it this way). "I knew your father," he drawls to the young, dark-haired Schaap. "He said I didn't have a sane bone in my body: I don't forget that."

I ask about chess; a Russian TV crew asks about Kasparov; the Icelanders ask whether Fischer likes herring, but the Schaap affair won't go away. Fischer insists on returning to it, and things suddenly turn ugly. "Let me get back to this guy," says Fischer, pointing at Schaap. "I hate to rap people personally, but his father many years ago befriended me, took me to see Knicks games, acted kind of like a father figure, and then later, like a typical Jewish snake, he had the most vicious things to say about me." Schaap snaps at that, says "I don't know that you've done much here today really to disprove anything he said," and walks out. All on camera. [Full extensive article]


Fischer was back for the first time, and seeing him there on the tarmac, a few minutes after 11 p.m., the rush of history was as palpable as the wind. You knew you weren't looking at the Babe Ruth and Beethoven of the 64-square set anymore, or a Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated cover boy, or even a U.S.citizen. You were looking at an international fugitive; a venom-spewing flashpoint of the war on terrorism and the right of free speech; a person hours removed from an eight-month ordeal in a Japanese prison. You were looking at a weary, 62-year-old man who had just traveled 5,500 miles to an island with mountains rising from the sea, 100% literacy and more chess grandmasters per capita than any place on Earth. [Long wrapup of Fischer's career and situation]


Pug Bus: President Bush Blames Drop in Popularity on Bobby Fischer (satire)
An unusually contrite President George W. Bush apologized to the American people during his weekly radio address yesterday for ignoring renegade chess champion Bobby Fischer and “the threat he poses to the future of chess in our country.” The president, whose job approval rating plunged to an all-time low of 45 percent in a poll released on Friday, said he deserved the low rating for disappointing “decent, god-fearing American chess players.” “I accept responsibility for squandering some of my political capital on other people’s trivial agendas while an avowed enemy of American chess was making terroristic threats against the game and the people who play it in this country. I will not allow such conduct to go unchecked. Mr. Fischer will be made to answer for his remarks.” Bush also announced that unless “the rogue state of Iceland” hands Fischer over to American authorities “sooner rather than later,” it risks being added to the axis of evil. “The friend of our enemy is the enemy of our nation’s friends,” declared Bush. “The United States won’t be fooled again by Iceland’s willingness to shelter terrorists.” [Full article]


Previous ChessBase articles

Tumultuous welcome for Fischer in Iceland
25.03.2005 They are scenes like we have never seen before, certainly not in the chess world. Bobby Fischer arrived in Iceland to a hero's welcome from a midnight crowd at Reykjavik Airport. Looking harrowed and gaunt after almost nine months in Japanese detention he took time to speak to TV journalists. We have dramatic live footage from Icelandic TV.

11:30 GMT: Fischer arrives in Iceland
3/24/2005 Bobby Fischer is on a plane en route to Iceland, where he is due to arrive later tonight. During his departure from Narita Airport in Tokyo he was mobbed by press and TV. At 11:05 p.m. Fischer's plane, a private jet sent to pick him up by an Icelandic TV station, landed at Reykjavik Airport (not Keflavik International, which is a NATO base) at 21:30 GMT. Latest news...

Fischer released in Japan
23.03.2005 Bobby Fischer is due to be released from the Japanese detention center at midnight GMT. "The passed Fischer pawn has been shepherded home to the eighth rank," wrote the RJF Committee. "It can now be promoted into a piece, with complete freedom of movement." Update: we have just learnt that Bobby Fischer has been released!

Bobby Fischer: ich bin ein Icelander!
21.03.2005 At 5:06 p.m. today the Icelandic Althingi, has granted former world chess champion Bobby Fischer full Icelandic citizenship. Despite stern U.S. diplomatic warnings, the world's oldest existing democratic parliament voted 40 in favour and two abstentions to make Fischer a full citizen. The readings took just 12 minutes.

Fischer to receive Icelandic citizenship
19.03.2005 "Iceland has just got its tenth grandmaster – Robert James Fischer," rejoiced the RJF Committee. The country's parliament decided unanimously a few hours ago to grant Fischer Icelandic citizenship. Japanese authorities have confirmed that in such a case they would release the detained former world champion. Long read.

Playing the Al Capone Gambit against Fischer
15.03.2005 It's a strategy that worked well on leading mob figures: if you can't get them, let the IRS do the job. Former world champions Fischer was initially detained in Japan because of invalid travel document, then we were told it was for breaking sanctions in 1992. Now it looks like the US government will use tax evasion and money laundering to bring him down. Reports and video.

Bobby Fischer: five days in solitary confinement
08.03.2005 We had just reported about Fischer's new passport, which an Icelandic delegation had carried to Japan. A minor mystery was why it had not been handed over to him last Wednesday, as planned. Now we learn that Japanese authorities had put the former world champion into solitary confinement. For five days. Over a hard-boiled egg. We are not joking.

Fischer's passport – to freedom?
08.03.2005 March 9th is Bobby Fischer's 62nd birthday. By chance a very special gift has arrived in Japan for the former world champion: an Icelandic passport with which he may be able to travel to freedom after more than six months in a Japanese detention facility. We have exclusive pictures of the new passport.

Fischer receives an Icelandic passport
2/23/2005 Immigration authorities in Iceland have decided to issue full travel documents for former world champion Bobby Fischer, who is being held in Japanese detention for not possessing a valid passport. Fischer's new passport will be sent to Japan by diplomatic mail, and a delegation is traveling there to escort him to Iceland.
Fischer's lawyer Masako Suzuki speaks out
02.02.2005 Is Japan buckling under pressure by the US? Bobby Fischer, 61, former World Champion of Chess who has been jailed in Japan for six months now, is applying for Icelandic citizenship. But Tokyo seems to be balking at a constructive solution entailing his release to Iceland. Fischer's lawyer Masako Suzuki has given us an exclusive interview.

Bobby Fischer applies for Icelandic Citizenship
25.01.2005 After the Japanese authorities last week refused Fischer's request to be extradited to Iceland the chess legend, who is being held in a Japanese detention facility, has today written to the President of the Icelandic Althingi (picture), applying for Icelandic citizenship. A special law would have to be passed to grant Fischer's request.

Bobby Fischer – immigration plans on ice
22.01.2005 His supporters filed a petition that Fischer might be released from detention in a Tokyo jail and allowed to travel to Iceland, where he has been granted refuge. But Japanese Justice Ministry lawyers said they were not prepared to change Fischer's deportation destination to Iceland, and that he would have to remain in detention. A harsh blow for the chess legend.

Bobby Fischer – six months in jail
1/17/2005 On July 13, 2004 he was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo, for attempting to leave the country on an invalidated. Since then the greatest hero of Western chess has been languishing in a Japanese detention facility, now physically exhausted and suffering from dizzy spells. His Icelandic friends, who are offering him refuge, have launched another appeal to the authorities.

US threatens Iceland, Fischer Committee appeals
22.12.2004 Iceland is under US pressure to drop plans to offer a home to fugitive former chess champion Bobby Fischer, the Reuters news agency tells us. But the Icelandic government has stated that its offer "will not be withdrawn despite pressure from the United States." How do we know that? Among other things we read it in Aljazeera, would you believe? Here's the latest on this international confrontation.

RJF Committee mobilizes pro-Fischer forces
18.12.2004 While Bobby Fischer remains incarcerated in a Japanese prison a special committee in Iceland is moving to get him free and find him a home on the North-Atlantic island country. Iceland's foreign minister and a prominent political scientist have spoken out. Here's a report on Fischer's Iceland Connection...
Fischer to get refuge in Iceland?
12/16/2004 The news today on Bobby Fischer, who is currently being held in a Japanese detention facilities pending extradition to the US, is that the Icelandic government has offered to grant him a residence permit. In a telephone interview Fischer speaks about his plight in Japan and reacts to statements by Garry Kasparov on Fischer Random Chess. Full details...
Returning to the 'scene of the crime'
30.11.2004 Twelve years ago Boris Spassky played a match against Bobby Fischer in Yugoslavia. That got Fischer into a lot of trouble, while for Spassky, a French citizen, there were no repercussions. Now the tenth world champion returned to Belgrade to open the Belgrade Chess Trophy. Quick interview...
Fischer to Bush and Koizumi: 'You are going to pay for this!'
18.10.2004 Bobby Fischer, still in detention in Japan, has spoken out again in an interview, this time threatening the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and US President Bush: "You are going to pay for this, and you are going to pay for your crimes in Iraq too." His new lawyer, Richard J. Vattuone, plans to release documents to prove US government involvement in a plot against Fischer.
'We want to live together forever'
01.09.2004 She collected pictures of her chess hero after his match with Boris Spassky in 1972. One year later they met in Tokyo – the start of a romance spanning decades. Since four years the two have lived together in downtown Kamata in Tokyo's Ota Ward. In an exclusive interview for ChessBase Miyoko Watai tells us the story of her life with Bobby Fischer.
Listen to Bobby Fischer
26.08.2004 In emotional phone calls from his detention cell in Tokyo ex world champion Bobby Fischer gave a Philippine radio station two lengthy interviews. Fischer is facing deportation and incarceration in the US, and voices his nightmare fears: "I will be tried, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned, tortured and murdered." We have summary transcripts and audio files.
Dramatic moments around Fischer's deportation
25.08.2004 First the Japanese Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa issued a deportation order against former world champion Bobby Fischer's, then Fischer's lawyers filed a lightning appeal on the grounds that physical deportation would be a flagrant violation of Fischer's right to full legal recourse and protection under Japanese law. Here's the full story by Fischer's legal coordinator.
'Bobby Fischer and I have decided to marry'
17.08.2004 Bobby Fischer, the former world chess champion, plans to marry the president of the Japan Chess Association (and four-time Japanese women's champion) Miyoko Watai. This was reported in newspapers and wire services last night. Now Watai-san has sent us a statement explaining the background of her personal relationship with Fischer.
Fischer renounces US citizenship
15.08.2004 Bobby Fischer has been moved to a new detention facility in Tokyo, pending a decision on his deportation to the US, where he faces a 10-year jail sentence. A lot of new material has surfaced, including Fischer's handwritten renouncement of his US citizenship and a blow-by-blow description and picture of his arrest at Narita Airport. Harrowing stuff...
Spassky to Bush: Arrest me!
10.08.2004 Boris Spassky, who played the contentious return match against Bobby Fischer in Yugoslavia 1992, for which the latter is currently facing deportation and incarceration in the US, has appealed to President Bush to show mercy and charity for his tormented successor. If for some reason that should be impossible, Spassky suggests a very imaginative alternative...
Fischer's appeal rejected
28.07.2004 Bobby Fischer's appeal against his deportation was rejected today by Japanese authorities. Meanwhile the Icelandic Chess Federation has appealed to US president Bush to pardon Fischer and set up a petition web site to collect signatures. In Tokyo a "Free Fischer Press Conference" is scheduled for Thursday. More...
Fischer a sacrificial pawn?
25.07.2004 Bobby Fischer is still in detention at Narita Airport in Tokyo, traumatised but stubborn, "behaving like a Samurai". At the same time news outlets all over the world are covering the story, with Fischer's brother-in-law Russell Targ assailing the Bush administration for playing election year politics with the former chess champion's freedom. There's a lot to be read...
Game of Life: Kasparov on Fischer – in full
20.07.2004 The news of Fischer's arrest in Japan came as a shock to Garry Kasparov, who was in a holiday camp working intensely on the games of his greatest American predecessor. In today's issue of The Wall Street Journal Kasparov assesses Fischer's chess career – for a public that was being exposed to his current situation. We now bring you Kasparov's full article.
Will Fischer be extradited?
19.07.2004 Chess legend Bobby Fischer, the hero of millions, languishes in the detention facilities of Narita Airport in Tokyo, waiting for a decision by Japanese Immigration authorities on his deportation to the US. We have collected all the documents and reconstructed a timeline to his arrest. Fischer, who has no legal counsel, is appealing for international assistance.
Bobby Fischer detained in Japan (updated)
16.07.2004 It's the latest twist in the sad tale of American former world champion Bobby Fischer. He has been detained in Japan and faces possible deportation to the US to face charges for playing in Yugoslavia in 1992. Fischer's website says he was "very nearly killed" in Japan. The story has been picked up by news services all over the world.

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