Full Fischer film in YouTube

by Frederic Friedel
12/2/2020 – Shortly before the death of former World Champion Bobby Fischer his Icelandic bodyguard during the Spassky match in 1972, Saemundur Pálsson, participated in the production of a documentary entitled "Vinur minn Bobby" (“My Friend Bobby”). Fischer protested, stating that the material used in the film was obtained by fraud. Now for the first time the full film is available in YouTube. You can watch it – but warning: it contains harsh language!

Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer

No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Bobby Fischer. On this DVD, a team of experts shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion.

Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur.


Here's the film, now posted in YouTube:

At the time of production we received this letter from the Icelandic Robert James Fischer Campaign Group:

Board: Einar S. Einarsson, Chairman; Gudmundur G. Thórarinsson, Vice-Chairman;
Garðar Sverrisson; Helgi Ólafsson; Magnús Skúlason


Re: A film on Bobby Fischer

Robert James Fischer, world champion in chess, has sought the assistance of the RJF Campaign Group because of his dissatisfaction with a "documentary film" that cinematographer Fridrik Gudmundsson and Kristinn Hrafnsson have been producing in cooperation with Saemundur Pálsson and other parties.

Mr. Fischer wishes the group to draw attention to the fact that the manuscript and structure of the aforementioned "documentary," of which he is the main subject, are grossly inconsistent with former discussions and that the material has been obtained by fraud.

The primary theme of the film now, which working title is "My friend Bobby", is in his opinion, quite contrary to the ideas that were proposed in the year 2005 concerning a possible news program for Icelandic televison on the US organised kidnapping and imprisonment of Mr. Fischer in Japan, his being granted Icelandic citizenship and release from prison.

On this occasion, the RJF Group wishes to reiterate that Mr. Fischer has never signed any form of contract or release for this television program. All use or broadcast of any material that was recorded by these parties concerning Mr. Fischer´s case or personality is not authorized. No such material may be used, broadcast, or otherwise displayed without his consent.

For this reason, it is absolutely against his wishes that parties in Iceland or elsewere should provide financial subsidy for the production of this film or should show it once completed.

Reykjavík, May 4 2007

On behalf of the Board of the RJF Campaign Group

Einar S. Einarsson, chairman

Who is Saemi Palsson?

The driving force behind the documentary is Fischer's former bodyguard and friend Saemi Palsson. The name of the documentary, "My friend Bobby", is a reference to Saemi, who is the main source of information for the producers.

Sæmundur Pálsson, a.k.a. "Saemi Rock", is a former police officer (since 1969) and former competition rock dancer – which brought him the names "Rock and Roll Champion of Reykjavik" and "Dancing Policeman".

Saemi was one of eight policemen who were assigned to protect Bobby Fischer during the World Championship match against Boris Spassky in Iceland in 1972. After Bobby had won the title Saemi visited him in New York and, he says, spent a couple of months with him in Pasadena, California.

During Fischer's imprisonment in Japan Saemi tried to convince the Icelandic government to help his friend. He went to Japan and attempted to get Fischer out with an Icelandic passport. Iceland granted Fischer full citizenship that he was free to move to his new home country.

Bobby and Saemi on the plane from Japanese detention to Reykjavik Airport

Fischer with Saemi Palsson after his 24-hour journey from Japan

Feeling better, a few days later after a much-needed trimming of hair and beard


Fischer fans: these links will keep you occupied until the end of the pandemic. 

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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phargrea phargrea 12/13/2020 11:12
@twamers: I am with you.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/5/2020 12:21
@fgkdjlkag there is a reason of his hatred to be directed towards the Jews. There can be infinitely many groups he could have chosen to hate. In my opinion the Jews became the target of his hatred and paranoia because there are all kinds of anti-semitic propaganda and his paranoia could manifest only against groups he considers to be dangerous. So, the anti-Jewish propaganda and Fischer's paranoia were two independent things, which was synthetised into his antisemitism. Yes, he had Jewish friends, but I believe he did not consider all the Jews to be part of the conspiration he believed in.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/4/2020 08:28
@lajosarpad, although Fischer was very intelligent and very well-read, I don't think any of your analysis impacted Fischer's anti-semitism. IMHO it is nothing more than a delusion, and no amount of logic or reasoning can convince someone into or out of mental illness. He had Jewish friends while he was making his virulent anti-semitic claims, which is not reconcilable. It was also evident that Fischer really believed that there was a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

@Frederic, I agree with you and was dismayed that no one was able to convince Fischer to accept medical treatment. I've always been curious whether if there was a chess GM and doctor, if he/she would have been able to convince Fischer, by explaining the situation in chess terms.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/4/2020 03:17
@Frederic I think I know the reasons of anti-semitism. Judaism is the root of well, Judaism, but also, Christianity and Islam. Since both the judeo-christian and the islamic civilization has Judaism at their core, it's no doubt that there are strong feelings towards Jews, pro or contra. Medieval Europe was intolerant to other views and Jews were on the unfortunate receiving end, who were seen as the political descendants of Jesus's killers. Islam has hatred against the Kaffir in its basic tenets, probably because the Jewish tribes in Muhammad's time and area refused to become Islamic and pointed out, according to the Torah the inaccuracies of Islam's prophet. Frustrations led to pogroms both in the middle-east and in Europe. And then came the 20th century, in which the national-socialists picked "the Jew" as the nemesis. No wonder, since Hitler expressed his frustrations about the meekness of Christianity and his preference of Islam over it. Also, after the failure of the Kibutzim, which was a communist movement in Israel, communists in the eastern block had an anti-Israel view. Virtually all nations have experience about Jews because they had to flee their homeland many centuries ago, Jews tended to be economically successful (which fuelled the envy and hatred of some people) and on top of that, Judaism considers the Jews to be special, a nation chosen by JHW.

Unfortunately Fischer has fallen victim to this extremist and delusional hatred, which is very strange, given his Jewish roots.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/4/2020 03:06
@fgkdjlkag I think a great move and a great achievement is a great move and a great achievement. Political views or other problems do not make that null and void. PhishMaster's points are invalid because we did not separate the man from his actions. That was a complete and blatant lie on his part. I am viewing chess carreers as chess carreers and I do not take into account the political views of the person. Botvinnik was a stalinist player. But that does not diminish his great achievements. If we start to apply censorship in chess (I'm not saying that was proposed by anyone, but the way PhishMaster acts points to that direction) based on political views, then we will have to forget a large part of chess. I'm not interested in getting into that orwellian situation.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/4/2020 03:05
@PhishMaster Wow, dude! Who the heck "wanted" to separate a man from his actions?! My point was that he was one of the absolute greats of chess. His greatness in chess is independent from his political views. You say that "blindly adoring" Fischer because he was a great player shows "flaws in character". Presumably you assume that I am one of the "blind adorers". As a matter of fact, your political views blind you. Nobody tells you that you should watch his games. It is you who is pushing the line by questioning the character of people who happen to respect Fischer as a player. He single-handedly defeated the then dominant Soviet chess elite. That's heroism. Too bad that he stopped being that hero and started something else. If you do not want to watch his games because of your feelings, that's ok. But you should respect others, who consider him a chess (and not political) hero. He was such a great hero that he attracted many to chess, including Twamers.

"Enough excuses because he was great at chess. "

Nobody is giving excuses for Fischer. He does not need any excuses as a player. As about his political views, I'm sure the majority of chess players analyzing his games are disagreeing with him. You seem not to be able to appreciate a game of a player you do not like. I hope this attitude does not affect too much your life and your playing strength.
Frederic Frederic 12/4/2020 01:31
I was talking to Fischer by phone until a short time before his death. I spoke about that in (the last third of) this interview: https://en.chessbase.com/post/knowing-the-chess-greats-part-ii. I asked him about Saemi, and he told me not to trust him -- or anyone else, except Gardar Sverrison and his family.

For some reason Bobby considered me intelligent enough, but hopelessly unable to understand the real problems of the world (Jews). He kept trying to convince me. I could never resist provoking him, and instead of cursing and breaking contact he would call again a couple of days later to "refute" what I had said. He also accepted my somewhat weird sense of humour. Unfortunately I was not able to convince him to seek proper clinical treatment for his kidney failure. His death I believe was premature and unnecessary. Actually, in spite of his very intemperate views, which were usually the exact opposite of mine, I grew quite fond of him.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/3/2020 11:20
@PhishMaster, I never said he was a hero.

"His "mental illness" was mostly borne of hate that was ingrained over decades, which is not really just mental illness. He was so intelligent and very aware of what he was saying. Enough excuses because he was great at chess. "

Totally inaccurate. Physicians have speculated (because they did not have personal access to Bobby Fischer obviously) that he had 1 of 2 mental illnesses.
It's clear to everyone that he was having delusions (see Seirawan's comments, among others, if Fischer's statements and beliefs are not apparent by themselves). Also quite clear that there are many factors that influenced it - his biological father exhibited OCD tendencies and paranoia (whom Fischer probably never met, but there is a genetic component to mental illness). Fischer grew up in poverty. His family was followed around by the FBI and he was warned by his mother on what to say to them if he was ever questioned. Imagine being a child and noticing strange ppl following you around everywhere, but not being certain of it. The FBI recently released a > 1000 page(!) file on Fischer's mother, who they baselessly believed to be a spy. Add his powers of observation, high IQ, and his tendency to notice things that did not make sense, achieving fame at a young age, plus real examples of cheating against him (the Soviets did collude against him in a famous tournament, which he claimed at the time and was ridiculed throughout the world, it was not admitted by the Soviets until decades later) and it's not hard to see that the mental illness did not arise out of the blue (although it can, of course, in ppl).

How do you explain having his fillings removed because he thought that they were used to spy on him, and a plethora of other incidents?
PhishMaster PhishMaster 12/3/2020 11:03
@fgkdjlkag, then how is he a "hero"? You really cannot be both in this context.

His "mental illness" was mostly borne of hate that was ingrained over decades, which is not really just mental illness. He was so intelligent and very aware of what he was saying. Enough excuses because he was great at chess.
twamers twamers 12/3/2020 08:42
I prefer to remember the great Bobby Fischer through his games of chess. He played wonderful and fantastic chess. He is also the reason I took up the game and have enjoyed playing, watching tournaments and reading the fantastic literature of the game of chess for almost 50 years. And I have had so much enjoyment from all of that.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/3/2020 07:14
@PhishMaster, you can separate a man from his mental illness. To blame a man because he has mental illness is not becoming.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/3/2020 07:12
Clearly the main character of the film is Pálsson. @Gerald C, what has he done that you call him an old and self-limited man spreading nonsense? I just saw the first third of it but I don't see how Pálsson is taking advantage of Fischer. He even says Fischer shouldn't be saying things about the Jews. He didn't have to travel to Japan or try to get Fischer out. The only questionable thing I can see is that he was having everything filmed, but I don't see anything wrong with it.

Some interesting facts, like Watai first meeting Fischer in 1973 and they went to Disneyland and Las Vegas. Also altruistic of John Bosnitch to allow himself to be seen as a villain by Fischer just in order to pacify Fischer and help secure his release. He seems like the real hero of the film (of what I've seen).
PhishMaster PhishMaster 12/3/2020 02:35
@lajosarpad, and you cannot separate a man from his actual actions. To blindly adore Fischer because he played chess well shows flaws in the character of anyone, who does. He was not a "hero" in any sense of the word.
Akshaj985 Akshaj985 12/3/2020 11:14
Harsh language! That's inappropriate for kids!
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/3/2020 09:58
@Gerald C that "old and self-limited man spreading nonsense" was one of the greatest chess players in history. Yes, he had extreme views, but independently from those, he was an absolute hero over the board.
Gerald C Gerald C 12/3/2020 08:53
One must be a fanatic of Fischer to appreciate such a film whose main character is an old and self-limited man spreading nonsense. Very sad !
adalthor23 adalthor23 12/3/2020 03:19
Of course, we can ask: did Fischer exploitate Sæmundur Pálsson? Maybe, he did, who knows?
adalthor23 adalthor23 12/3/2020 03:10
Well, i remember i saw this film in the movies, many years ago ... i have it on dvd, actually, exploitation, yeah right, blablabla etc ...
Harry Pillsbury Harry Pillsbury 12/3/2020 01:02
Horrible movie. You could feel Palsson's exploitation of Fischer in many of the scenes. The only new thing that I learned was the film of the small jet flying to Copenhagen (I think). Everything else was just a rehas of other films and info from various books.
e-mars e-mars 12/2/2020 07:34
The board around 2:45 is... inverted (black square on the bottom right side) or the whole recording is inverted
sedarpl sedarpl 12/2/2020 07:25
Thank you for link to watch this movie.
HollyHampstead HollyHampstead 12/2/2020 07:17
Very sad.
dani_elo dani_elo 12/2/2020 06:05
Eager to know more details of Bobby's life!!!