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Bobby Fischer Comes Home: The Final Years in Iceland, a Saga of Friendship and Lost Illusions Paperback – June 16, 2012
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(John D. Warth, This title is destined to be a classic... ChessCafe.com)
Bobby Fisher Comes Home describes the end of the life of a brilliant chess player with dignity. (Richard Vedder, FIDE Master, Netherlands Schakers.info)
Olafsson doesn't apologize for Fisher in the way some of his other biographers have. A charming aspect of the book is how Olafsson weaves his own biographical details into the narrative.
(Cecil Rosner Winnepeg Free Press)
A fascinating read, in turns poignant and perplexing, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone interested in the second Pride and Sorrow of American Chess.
(Ken Surratt ChessVille)
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Top Customer Reviews
By recounting the story of how he became a Fischer fan even before the great 1972 match, and how he became engrossed with Fischer during the match, Icelandic GM Helgi Olafsson helps us understand how the whole island came to regard him as a member of their tight-knit community. But the relationship was just getting started in 1972. Olafsson recounts the dismay he and the Icelandic chess community felt as Fischer broke down psychologically over the ensuing decades, and how they decided they must help him even as the US government made his life difficult by seeking to extradite him for violating US economic sanctions. For example, they formed an "RJF Committee" that pulled in Icelandic government officials to send diplomatic cables pleading for mercy on Fischer, but they got little response from the US State Department.
When the Icelandic parliament finally declared Fischer a full citizen, Olafsson felt like they were bringing him home. Indeed, Olafsson portrays a Fischer who seemed much more content during the few years he spent in Iceland than he had felt for many decades, or perhaps ever. Olafsson describes his frequent meals with Fischer, the unexpected blitz match of "Fischer Random" chess, and his role as agent for Fischer as he tried to negotiate a match with Vishy Anand, who comes off as a diplomatic and gracious man who nevertheless recognized that negotiations with the erratic Fischer could not possibly yield a favorable outcome. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Fischer could still act like a brat and a sociopath at times, which certainly strained the patience of his Icelandic friends.
Last Wednesday I stayed up past midnight to finish this book. How would Fischer's relationship with the Filipina Marilyn Young and her daughter Jinky, born while Fischer resided in Baguio City, turn out? What was his relationship with Japanese chess federation president Miyoko Watai, perhaps his wife but perhaps just a friend, really like? Would Fischer's Jekyll and Hyde personality succeed in driving off a friend so devoted as Olafsson, as it had so many others before?
In this gripping read, Olafsson sprinkles a few chess nuggets for serious chess players, such as in-depth analysis of the position that prompted Fischer to call an Icelandic TV station to correct their commentary on a local match. As a chess fan, I was completely engrossed by Olafsson's narrative. The book mainly deals with Fischer's life and relationships in Iceland, though, so I would also recommend it (highly!) for those don't really understand the battle on 64 squares but just want to understand Fischer, the tragic hero.
Note: The publisher provided a copy of this book to me in exchange for my honest review. My ratings of the publisher's books have ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars.