RJF Committee mobilizes pro-Fischer forces

by ChessBase
12/18/2004 – 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...

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The Iceland Connection

When the Icelandic Authorities announced that Bobby Fischer is welcomed to Iceland, and that Mr. David Oddsson foreign minister has decided at Bobby's request to grant him a residence visa, five members of Bobby Fischer's support group were at the Japanese Embassy in Reykjavik, protesting and appealing for his unconditional release from detention in Tokyo. A day later they visited the US Embassy.

The RJF Committee, with M. Skúlason; G.Thorarinsson; H. Olafsson, Lilja Gretarsdottir, G. Sverrisson, S. Palsson, I. Asmundsson; H. Jökulsson; E.Einarsson

The RJF Committee of Iceland was formed in support of the 11th world champion and is fighting for his freedom from detention in Japan. Among the members of this committee are GM Helgi Olafsson, G. Thorarinsson (chief organizer of the Fischer-Spassky match in 1972), Lilja Grétarsdóttir (president of ICF) and others.

Fischer's connections to Iceland have never broken. He phones his old buddy and “bodyguard” Saemi Palsson on a daily basis, so that the RJF Committee has been able to follow his situation very closely. Bobby wrote a private letter to the Icelandic foreign minister, Mr. David Oddsson, former prime minister and an avid chess fan, asking for a residence permit in Iceland.

Celebrating the news that their government has invited Fischer to live in Iceland: the RJF committee members Gudmundur Thorarinsson; GM Helgi Olafsson, Lilja Gretarsdottir; President ICF, Saemi Palsson; Hrafn Jökulsson.

David Oddsson, Island's Foreign Minister

Excerpts from an interview conducted on 17.12.2004 on the RUV (Icelandic State Radio)

Foreign Minister David Oddsson had told the American Ambassador about the decision of the Icelandic government last Wednesday and stated that his ministry has not been subsequently approached by US authorities with any complaints, statements or inquires of any kind concerning the offer of the Iceland government to grant Bobby Fischer a residence permit in Iceland.

Mr. Oddsson said that if Bobby's participation in the match in Yugoslavia in 1992 has been a violation of the UN embargo enforced upon Yugoslavia in 1992 then according to Icelandic law it has no validation now because of statute of limitation. Mr. Oddsson pointed out that Iceland supported the UN embargo on Yugoslavia just like the USA in 1992. Oddsson: "From our point of view, if it is really a violation of an embargo to play chess there, then nevertheless it has no validation here because of statute of limitation. Our view is that we find it odd to persecute a man because of a matter of this kind. The US Ambassador in Iceland emphasized that this was a not a matter of the US Foreign Ministry but the US Ministry of Justice. I said that I was not asking for permission of any kind to make this decision, however I was informing him about my decision in full respect and friendship.

I don't see any reason for people being afraid that US will ask us to hand him over because I do not believe the Americans will push so hard so as to have him handed over. In any case we would stick to aforementioned fact – the statute of limitation – and the fact that he is not breaking Icelandic law by playing chess."

Is Fischer getting special treatment? Mr. Oddsson: "It is quite natural that people should think this individual is a getting special treatment, and we cannot explain it otherwise. This is a very special individual who is tied to Iceland's history in a special way. I do not recall another case of this kind in recent years, but we also reacted differently many years ago in the case of Vladimir Ashkenazy, that was of course because he was tied to us in a special way". Ashkenazy, the world famaous conductor and pianist, defected from the USSR and is married to an Icelandic lady.

Open Letter to the American Ambassador to Iceland

On December 15 a very sharp open letter appeared in Morgunbladid, Iceland's leading newspaper. It was translated by Anna C. Benassi and sent to us by Einar S. Einarsson, International Affairs Liaison of the Icelandic Chess Federation. The author is Garðar Sverrisson, a political scientist, who wrote it on behalf of the Robert J Fischer Support Group in Iceland. In the letter, addressed to the American Ambassador in Reykjavik, Sverrisson says: "There was a time when the authorities in your country were passionately interested in getting Robert J. Fischer to compete for the title of world champion in chess. It was so important that the Secretary of State himself, Henry Kissinger, made phone calls in all directions so that the world could see America’s national hero bring the Soviets to their knees in their own national sport. When it came to facing off against the Soviet system, it was difficult to conceive of a genius who was more independent in his words and actions, an individual who heeded nothing other than his own convictions, no matter whether he himself profited by it or paid for it dearly. And now those same character traits in the personality of the selfsame individual have occasioned fiercer vengeance tactics against that individual than the Soviet Union itself could imagine employing against its most disobedient chess masters."

Letter from Boris Spassky

Einar Einarsson has also received a brief message from ex world champion Boris Spassky:

Dear Einar,

Thank you very much for very good news. Now when the whole chess world is cowardly silent, Icelandic people made a natural and brave move to help Bobby. Congratulations. And my applause! If you need my assistance or help, please let me know. I will join with great pleasure the group of brave Icelandic people.

I take the opportunity wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Boris and Marina Spassky

Richard Wall: The Hounding of a Chess Legend

The freelance writer who lives in Portugal has put together a well-written summary of the current situation of Bobby Fischer. Wall is a fervent believer in individual freedom and opposed to government harassment of individual persons. He thinks that the action by the US government is a vindictive one. The US government wanted to do a deal with the Japanese government: the Japanese would get Charles Jenkins, who deserted from the US army to North Korea many years ago and married a Japanese woman, and the US would get Fischer, who has lived mainly in Japan in recent years. This, however, did not work, because Fischer immediately took legal action to stop his deportation to the US. But Jenkins has been released to Japan.


Iceland is a volcanic island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It has the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, which was established in 930. Iceland was independent for over 300 years, and subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, income, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.

Iceland has the greatest density of chess players, rated players and Grandmaster per unit of population than anywhere else in the world. In 1972 the match of the century between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky was held in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Previous ChessBase articles

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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