Memorial exhibition for Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik

by ChessBase
3/10/2013 – Forty years after the legendary "Match of all Time" between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the late American champion, the hotel in which the two contestants stayed in 1972, Hotel Loftleidir (now Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel Natura) has enshrined the towering legacy of the match in a memorial exhibition. Press release and pictures.

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“Chess is life”

Bobby Fischer’s Art of Chess corner opened at
Icelandair hotel Reykjavik Natura on his 70th anniversary

In 1972 the legendary World Chess Championship match between Bobby Fischer of the United States and Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union, took place in Reykjavík, Iceland. During the intervening decades, the contest has assumed an almost mythological status and, having been voted by the BBC as one of the ten most remarkable events of the 20th Century. Its title “The Match of the Century” has morphed into “The Match of all Time”.

Robert James (Bobby) Fischer was the first American to become official World Chess Champion. His stunning triumph propelled him into the firmament of chess lore and ended 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Chess Championship. Some people even assert that Fischer’s epic victory was the catalyzing event that led to the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.

The towering legacy of this match is now enshrined in an exhibition on the ground floor of the hotel where Bobby Fischer stayed during the event – Hotel Loftleidir (now Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel Natura). Fragments and artifacts of those radiant weeks in the summer of '72 have been assembled for this exhibit, the centerpiece being one of the chessboards that was made specifically for the match.

The installation also features an array of memorabilia – posters, magazines, photographs – that constitutes a window into a time and a place when a chess match in Iceland became symbolic of the clash of the world's two superpowers, with the hopes and dreams of the free world pinned to a 29-year-old prodigy from Brooklyn, New York. The magnitude of the '72 World Championship cannot be overstated. In short it remains the most widely covered chess event in history – the moment when chess as cultural phenomenon reached its zenith.

In addition to its explicit focus on 1972, the exhibition also touches upon Bobby Fischer's relationship with Iceland and the status of Hotel Loftleiðir as an historic chess venue. The saga of Bobby Fischer’s connection to Iceland took on a new dimension in March of 2005 when he was granted Icelandic citizenship. During the previous nine months he had been detained in Japan for attempting to travel on a revoked U.S. passport. Upon arrival in his adopted country he received a hero’s welcome and was given accommodation in the same room at Hotel Loftleidir that he had occupied in 1972: Suite 470.

Three years later, in Reykjavík in 2008, the man who is widely considered to be the greatest chess player of all time, died. He was 64 . The fact that his age at the time of his death equals the number of squares on a chessboard is a detail that added one last stroke of genius to the contours of his legendary life. He was laid to rest in Laugadaelir churchyard, some 50 miles southeast of Reykjavik – away from the beaten track.

The historic chess board is the personal property of Páll G. Jónsson, entrepreneur and chess aficionado, who attended the 1972 Match organized by the Icelandic Chess Federation and acted as Fischer’s salmon fishing guide. Einar S. Einarsson, former president of the ICF and chairman of the RJF-Committee which campaigned for Fischer’s freedom, has also generously provided many rare articles, souvenirs, drawings, postcards, and photograps which are on display.

Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura extends its sincere gratitude and appreciation to both of them and hopes guests and visitors will enjoy this unique exhibition.

All material thankfully provided by Einar S. Einarsson from Iceland

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