Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fischer Update

The Bobby Fischer saga seems to be drawing to a close. When last we saw him he was wallowing in a Japanese prison for trying to leave the country on an invalid passport. Fischer has been a fugitive from the United States since 1992 for violating trade sanctions against the then Yugoslavia.

Now it seems that the Parliament of Iceland has granted citizenship to Fischer, and that he should be released from prison before long.

Iceland's Parliament voted Monday to grant citizenship to the American chess star Bobby Fischer, laying the groundwork, his supporters said, for his release from the Japanese prison where he has been held since last summer.

“We are most happy,” said Einar Einarsson, a spokesman for a committee that has been trying to free Mr. Fischer from Japan, where he is being detained while he fights deportation to the United States.

Mr. Einarsson, who called Mr. Fischer “part of our modern saga and part of our recent history,” said that the 62-year-old chess champion might be released “in only a few days” and that an Icelandic delegation planned to travel to Tokyo to escort him back to Reykjavik.

Why Iceland? It was in Reykjavik in 1972 that Fischer defeated then World Chess Champion Boris Spassky in what is inarguably the most famous chess match in history. As the article goes on to explain:

But while the United States - which is also investigating the possibility of charging him with tax evasion - regards Mr. Fischer as a fugitive from justice, in Iceland he is seen as a national hero. It was in Reykjavik in 1972 that he defeated the Russian world champion, Boris Spassky, in an electrifying cold war chess contest that pitted East against West.

As much as the African-American track star Jesse Owens's defeat of Hitler's Aryan athletes did at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Mr. Fischer's victory in Iceland seemed to symbolize nothing less than the triumph of one way of life over another - in this case, democracy over Communism.


At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now is the time for chess fans to start up an office pool: How many hours will pass before Bobby says something to embarrass his new homeland? Muttering to himself doesn't count, this has to be said to the media. (I'm expecting he'll do this within 24 hours of release.)


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