Bobby Fischer: latest news and pictures

by ChessBase
4/4/2005 – It's more than a week since Bobby Fischer arrived in Reykjavik, and news of his new life in the Nordic country has been steadily reaching us. For instance that Iceland will never deport him. Or of a 60 Minutes program that is in preparation. We bring you a collection of new Fischer photos, articles, declarations, even editorial cartoons.

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Iceland will not deport Fischer

Mr. David Oddsson (picture left), Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, informed the American Ambassador to Iceland, Mr. James I. Gadsden, that Mr. Fischer will not be deported to the US on charges of having played chess in a country which no longer exists, especially since he is now an Icelander.

David Oddsson, Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs

Furthermore Mr. Fischer has been warned by Iceland's Chief of Police, not to travel aboard, because of deportation claims from the US in various European Countries.

Fischer on 60 Minutes?

The US TV channel CBS News has contacted supporters of Bobby Fischer in Iceland to prepare a “60 Minutes” program on Bobby Fischer. The programme would be filmed this spring if the project goes ahead.

Fischer cartoons

Fischer cartoon by Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria

Corky Trinidad, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Police Said to Have Obeyed News Editor’s Instructions Because of Misunderstanding

The RJF Committee has released an announcement stating that the reception ceremony for Bobby Fischer upon his arrival in Iceland went awry due to the interference of the Channel 2 news editor. The announcement goes on to say that it must be utterly unprecedented that a member of the press should take the affair out of the hands of the organizers and steer the course of events in order to monopolize press coverage of such an occasion. The announcement, sent to the Morgunbladid Online News Desk by Einar S. Einarsson, former chairman of the Icelandic Chess Federation, appears below in its entirety:

As your reporters and other spectators noticed, the reception ceremony for the arrival of Bobby Fischer and his fiancée, Miyoko Watai, unfortunately careened out of control due to the interference of the Channel 2 news editor, Páll Magnússon. Parties on behalf of Channel 2 covered the expense of the private jet that brought Fischer to Iceland.

It must be utterly unprecedented that a member of the press should take such an affair out of the hands of the organizers and steer the course of events in order to monopolize press coverage of it.

Fischer was told to stride right by his supporters in the reception committee and straight to a car that stood at the ready, not far from the plane, so that other reporters, photographers, and television stations were able to take very few pictures of him as he stepped onto Icelandic soil. He and his party were then driven away and taken on a short drive through the neighborhood.

Ranking police officer Geir Jón Thórisson and his staff had roped off the reception area with yellow tape and had made all the necessary preparations so that the reception would go smoothly. But then, when the plane had landed, everything took a different course than expected because Geir Jón misunderstood the situation and took orders from the news editor of Channel 2 (the underwriters of the flight) and not from the RJF Committee, which had worked to free Fischer and had arranged both for his coming to the country and for a small reception without speeches.

Icelandic police officer Geir Jón Thórisson

After having boarded the plane with the customs officers, Geir Jón returned with the message that Fischer was so exhausted that he didn’t feel up to shaking the hands of the seven of us who were waiting to welcome him on behalf of the government authorities who had granted him citizenship.

RJF Committee members Saemi Palsson and Einar S. Einarsson

Then, when Fischer disembarked from the plane, who else but a Channel 2 reporter comes charging forth, right past the police and straight up to Fischer, and begins asking the “exhausted” traveler questions. When that happened, the well-organized reception plans dissolved into chaos. More people ran into the roped-off area, and soon the police couldn’t control the crowd.

Fischer being bundled away by Channel 2 TV at Reykjavik Airport

The reception committee had planned to present Fischer with his Letter of Citizenship, as symbolic testimony to his having become an Icelander, but this couldn’t be accomplished and will have to wait for a better time.

On the plane to Iceland: Fischer and Saemi Palsson (left) with the TV crew

The message was sent to us supporters that Fischer would return and would arrive at Hotel Loftleidir in 15-20 minutes, whereupon the reception committee could see him. This did indeed happen.

Cheers to at last approaching Iceland and Reykjavik Airport

The reporters from Channel 2, who had virtually kidnapped Fischer for a short time, returned with him to the plane and photographed him as he disembarked for the second time. They were the only news crew to do so, as the other members of the press had packed up and left by that time.

A harrowing experience: Fischer on the way to freedom

Then Fischer came, with his friend Saemundur, into Hotel Loftleidir and greeted everyone who had been waiting for him very warmly and graciously. He was lively and energetic, and he seemed anything but exhausted. Of course he was tired by this time, however, and relieved to retire to the lovely suite that he stayed in back in 1972 so he could get some rest.

“Regret How Things were Handled with Regard to the Press”

Gardar Sverrisson, one of Bobby Fischer’s chief supporters in Iceland, said in an interview with the Morgunbladid Online News Desk that he regrets, on behalf of the media people who, in many cases, traveled long distances to cover Mr. Fischer’s arrival in Iceland, that one Icelandic media crew should go as far as it actually did in order to monopolize the coverage of the event.

“At the last minute, we received the information that we should meet Miyoko and Bobby inside the hotel, which we naturally did. They seemed extremely relieved to meet us at last under normal circumstances,” said Sverrisson. “So the goal seems not at all to have been to prevent their meeting us, but rather to keep media people other than Channel 2 reporters from getting close to them.

The media members who showed up were not only from Iceland. There were a large number of foreign reporters as well, and many of them had traveled a long way in order to follow this historical event. From the beginning, we had done our best to keep them all informed of the status of the case, as it is very important, in such a battle, to have the press on your side.

For their sake I am really sorry that one Icelandic media agent should go so far, especially because it was these people whom we had trusted so much that we let them right into our inner circle, and they had promised us faithfully that that trust was mutual.”

Shame of Whom?

Morgunbladid, Reykjavik, Iceland – Editorial 29 March 2005

The following is a reply to a Washington Post editorial of 28.03.2005 entitled "Shame of Iceland".

Robert James Fischer returned to Iceland on Maundy Thursday after an absence of 33 years. For nine months he had been in detention in Japan, threatened with extradition to the United States for having violated an international trade embargo against erstwhile Yugoslavia when he played chess there in 1992. But Mr. Fischer has also occasioned angry reactions from Americans by repeatedly denouncing Jews and by exulting in a radio interview over the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The most choleric response to Bobby Fischer’s arrival in Iceland appeared yesterday in the American newspaper The Washington Post, under the headline “Shame of Iceland.” The paper states that the day Althingi [the Icelandic parliament] agreed to grant Mr. Fischer Icelandic citizenship was “a sad day for Iceland, which actively associated itself with a man who has long since left decency behind.” It goes on to say, “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.”

Bobby Fischer has not come to Iceland because of his opinions. They are his, and he is responsible for his words just as any other Icelander is.

When Mr. Fischer became World Champion, Americans were eager to cloak themselves in this eccentric chess genius’ victory over the Soviet chess dynasty, but since 1992 their intransigence toward him has been unalloyed.

Early this winter, Mr. Fischer wrote to the authorities in this country and requested asylum in Iceland. Minister of Foreign Affairs Davíd Oddsson demonstrated both valor and philanthropy when he decided to honor that request. Icelanders have formed a group of Bobby Fischer supporters who have worked tirelessly to get him released, and it is thanks to this group and the Minister for Foreign Affairs that Mr. Fischer is here. The original intent was not to grant Mr. Fischer Icelandic citizenship, but when it became clear that the Japanese would not release him, the decision was made to take this step. Althingi did not bring Iceland to shame with this decision; instead, it saved the United States the shame of having imprisoned Robert James Fischer for the sole crime of not having behaved in harmony with American foreign policy.

Previous ChessBase articles

Easter editorializing on Fischer's escape
29.03.2005 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.
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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