Interview with Helgi Ólafsson, Grand Master of Chess and director of the Icelandic Chess School
“I believe that [Fischer attorney John] Bosnitch plans on suing the Japanese authorities over their handling of this matter. I hope Bosnitch will be successful, especially as interest in this case has been widening. I think that when it comes to human rights maybe the Japanese have to adjust to Western societies. I do know that the US asked Iceland to take back their offer to Fischer around last Christmas, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some collusion going on between the US and Japanese authorities.
A friend in need?
“There’s no question that Fischer is getting special treatment. Oddsson himself said that there’s nothing else we can call this but special treatment. But Fischer has received this treatment because of his historical background with Iceland, for the very important match he played here in 1972. And I think that if you look at Iceland’s humanitarian record, you’ll see that we always help out people who are in trouble.
“Oddsson tried in 2000 to get the US to drop their case against Fischer. There have been many violations of the [UN led trade] embargo on Yugoslavia. I think Fischer is just a scapegoat.
But what will he do here?
“I don’t exactly know what Fischer will be doing in Iceland. I thought it was a tragedy that he left chess, and I know that he’s working on something else now. Fischer might not even be staying in Iceland for very long, even though he has a lot of friends here. What a lot of people don’t know about him as that he’s actually a solitary guy. What made him suddenly angry and outspoken was his property being seized in Pasadena, which was basically an act of robbery.
Is there a Jewish problem in Iceland?
“I’ve been dismayed by the remarks he’s made in the past, but I look at them more as a cry for help. He’s just very angry. It’s been explained to Fischer that in Iceland there isn’t a Jewish problem – we judge people more or less on their own merit here. I know that Sæmi [Sæmundur Pálsson, one of Fischer’s most ardent supporters] has tried to calm him down. Most of all we’re concerned about his mental state, which has been declining over the past few years. I think that once he moves to a friendly environment like Iceland that he’ll get better.
Will they bring the boy back home?
“I sense strong forces pulling Bobby to the US. I’m very afraid that this group of Icelanders who’ve travelled to Japan won’t get him back. Most of the time the US gets its way, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Bobby ended up in jail for a long time.”
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