Grand Master


As I hunkered down in my apartment yesterday, too afraid to venture out into the rancid weather, I wondered to myself:

Who in their right mind would voluntarily live on this rock?

What motivated my thinking was that I had just seen a news story on Bobby Fischer who, in January, wrote a letter to the government asking for Icelandic citizenship as a way out of his limbo.

Mr. Fischer is currently being held in Japan, as the US tries to extradite him for violating UN sanctions by playing a chess match in then-Yugoslavia in 1992.

It’s still a toss up as to whether the Icelandic Parliament General Committee will, in all its wisdom, grant this babbling anti-Semite emergency citizenship.

Does Iceland really need more lunatics seeking out the country because it is the last great, white hope. (You should read some of our e-mails.)

For those of you who don’t know, Icelanders have a soft spot for the ranting screwball because he won a chess match here against Russian Boris Spassky in 1972. Okay, so it wasn’t just a chess match. It was, in fact, the championship of the world, a clash between two Cold War superpowers to prove which superpower was superior.

Mr. Fischer won, and then 20-odd years later the USSR collapsed. A coincidence? I think not.

So Iceland is seriously considering citizenship for Mr. Fischer, a man who believes his legal troubles are some sort of Zionist conspiracy against him. I find this odd, because it comes on the heels of this country’s new restrictive immigration laws. One such law requires DNA testing to prove familial relations. Another law places age restrictions on those seeking to obtain citizenship based on marriage.

Of course these new laws only apply to “foreigners” from non-EEA nations.

Is the government prepared to skirt these newly inacted laws in order to secure citizenship for Mr. Fischer just because he’s a champion chess player?

Why would local leaders willing entangle themselves in the internal politics of Japan and the US over a nut job who said, about the 9/11 attacks on the US, to a radio station in the Philippines:

"This is all wonderful news. I applaud the act.”

There are those who feel that Mr. Fischer is being picked on by the US, and needs someone to stand up for him. And Iceland is just the country to do that because there are more chess grand masters per capita in Iceland than anywhere else in the world.

With the wind slamming into my living room window, bending the glass back and forth, I pondered whether political limbo in Japan would not be more desirable than the rock. Okay, maybe not, because with Icelandic citizenship Mr. Fischer could then live anywhere he wanted within the EU, or at least the EEA.

He might be crazy, but he ain’t stupid.

But if Mr. Fischer did decide on Iceland as a place to stud, and create a litter of crazies, where would he reside?

Why not book him a room in the office of the Prime Minister. Mr. Fischer could wake up each morning, eat some skyrr, drink some lysi, and stare out the window, across the street at the tilted swastika that adorns the old Eimskip building. EW

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.