Friday, March 25, 2005 Posted: 1855 GMT (0255
REYJKAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- Neatly dressed, newly shorn but as
unpredictable as ever, Bobby Fischer was welcomed Friday by
supporters in Iceland, the chess-loving nation where his career
peaked in a world championship victory 30 years ago.
Most Icelanders seemed happy to embrace their newest citizen --
although some expressed alarm at Fischer's provocative and often
anti-Semitic views, on display at a rambling, rambunctious press
"I think he's a little bit crazy," said Runar Berg, an
investment banker and recreational chess player. "Everyone has
the right to express his opinion, but sometimes it's better to
say nothing than to say rubbish like Bobby Fischer."
Fischer arrived in Reykjavik late Thursday, sporting wild gray
hair and a bushy beard after nine months in detention in Japan
fighting extradition to the United States.
He had a trim and a hearty Icelandic lunch before facing the
press alongside Saemundur Palsson, the friend and former
bodyguard who helped lead the campaign to win Fischer an
Icelandic passport, clearing the way for Japan to free him.
Fischer thanked his "wonderful friends" in the country for
securing his release.
Fischer remains a popular figure in tiny Iceland, site of his
1972 showdown with Soviet champion Boris Spassky -- a Cold War
rivalry that caught the world's imagination and ended in victory
"It was a big advertisement for Iceland at the time," said Fred
Fredreksson, 29. "I think it's good that we can help him in this
The match in Reykjavik proved the highlight of Fischer's career.
He lost his world title three years later after refusing to
defend it against Anatoly Karpov. He dropped out of competitive
chess and largely out of view, emerging occasionally to make
erratic and often anti-Semitic comments.
Time has not moderated his views.
On Friday, Fischer told reporters he was finished with a chess
world he regards as corrupt, and sparred with U.S. journalists
who asked about his anti-American tirades.
"The United States is evil. There's this axis of evil. What
about the allies of evil -- the United States, England, Japan,
Australia? These are the evildoers," Fischer said.
Fischer, 62, is wanted by the United States for violating
sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an
exhibition match against Spassky there in 1992. If convicted, he
could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 (192,500 euros)
Fischer had fought deportation since being detained by Japanese
officials last July. On Friday he accused Japanese officials of
mistreating him during two five-day stretches in solitary
confinement, where he was sent for grabbing one guard and
crushing the glasses of another.
After a nine-month tussle between Fischer and Japanese
authorities, Iceland's Parliament stepped in this week to break
the standoff by offering Fischer citizenship.
During his long flight from Tokyo, Fischer railed against the
governments of Japan and the United States, calling Japanese
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi "mentally ill" and a "stooge"
of U.S. President George W. Bush.
On Friday, he again declared himself an unrepentant enemy of the
"hypocritical and corrupt" United States, which he claims
organized his judicial kidnapping.
"They decided Fischer had to go to prison. He had to be
destroyed ... they decided to cook up whatever charges they
cooked up," he told reporters.
Fischer, whose mother was Jewish, accused "the Jew-controlled
U.S. government" of ruining his life.
Iceland's ambassador to Japan, Thordur Oskarsson, said
Washington sent a "message of disappointment" to the Icelandic
government at its decision to grant Fischer a passport. The
United States has an extradition treaty with Iceland, and could
still try to have Fischer deported.
Fischer is credited with helping to fuel a passion for chess in
Iceland, a nation of fewer than 300,000 people with one of the
highest per-capita rates of chess-playing in the world.
Fischer, who has long alleged that the outcomes of many
top-level chess matches are decided in advance, informed
Icelanders Friday that their enthusiasm for chess "was
misplaced, because people don't know how utterly corrupt it is,
and has been for many years."
"Just like when you go to watch a wrestling match, right?
Saturday night wrestling. They are very good wrestlers, but
anybody with half a brain knows it's almost all prearranged."
Declaring himself "finished" with chess, Fischer said he planned
to concentrate on perfecting his concept of random chess, in
which pieces are shuffled at the beginning of each match in a
bid to reinvigorate the game.
"I don't play the old chess," he said. "But obviously if I did,
I would be the best."