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Chess Master Bobby Fischer


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Chess Master Bobby Fischer

by Gudjon Helgason, Associated Press Writer

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Chess Master Bobby Fischer in 1962

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Bobby Fischer, the reclusive chess genius who became a Cold War hero by dethroning the Soviet world champion in 1972 and later renounced his American citizenship, died Thursday, January 17 in a Reykjavik hospital according to his spokesman, Gardar Sverrisson. Icelandic media reported he died of kidney failure after a long illness. He was 64.

Born in Chicago and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Fischer was wanted in the United States for playing a 1992 rematch against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia in defiance of international sanctions. In 2005, he moved to Iceland, a chess-mad nation and site of his greatest triumph.

Garry Kasparov, the former Russian chess champion, said Fischer's ascent in the chess world in the 1960s and his promotion of chess worldwide was "a revolutionary breakthrough" for the game. But Fischer's reputation as a genius of chess was eclipsed, in the eyes of many, by his idiosyncrasies.

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Chess Master Bobby Fischer in 1992

"The tragedy is that he left this world too early, and his extravagant life and scandalous statements did not contribute to the popularity of chess," Kasparov told The Associated Press. Opponent Spassky, reached briefly at his home in France, said of his friend and rival: "I am very sorry, but Bobby Fischer is dead. Goodbye."

He lost his world title in 1975 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, although his mother was Jewish.

An American chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15, Fischer dethroned the Spassky in 1972 in a series of games in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, to become the first officially recognized world champion born in the United States.

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Fifteen-year-old Chess Champ Bobby Fischer (left) and Russian

Grand Master Tigran Petrosian play a practice game at Moscow's

Central Chess Club in 1958.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation, called Fischer "a phenomenon and an epoch in chess history, and an intellectual giant I would rank next to Newton and Einstein." The match, at the height of the Cold War, took on mythic dimensions as a clash between the world's two superpowers.

Fischer played

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