Memorial exhibition for Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik

The installation also features an array of memorabilia – posters,
magazines, photographs – that constitutes a window into a time and
a place when a chess match in Iceland became symbolic of the clash of the
world’s two superpowers, with the hopes and dreams of the free world pinned
to a 29-year-old prodigy from Brooklyn, New York. The magnitude of the ’72
World Championship cannot be overstated. In short it remains the most widely
covered chess event in history – the moment when chess as cultural
phenomenon reached its zenith.

In addition to its explicit focus on 1972, the exhibition also touches
upon Bobby Fischer’s relationship with Iceland and the status of Hotel Loftleiðir
as an historic chess venue. The saga of Bobby Fischer’s connection
to Iceland took on a new dimension in March of 2005 when he was granted
Icelandic citizenship. During the previous nine months he had been detained
in Japan for attempting to travel on a revoked U.S. passport. Upon arrival
in his adopted country he received a hero’s welcome and was given
accommodation in the same room at Hotel Loftleidir that he had occupied
in 1972: Suite 470.

Three years later, in Reykjavík in 2008, the man who is widely considered
to be the greatest chess player of all time, died. He was 64 . The fact
that his age at the time of his death equals the number of squares on a
chessboard is a detail that added one last stroke of genius to the contours
of his legendary life. He was laid to rest in Laugadaelir churchyard, some
50 miles southeast of Reykjavik – away from the beaten track.

The historic chess board is the personal property of Páll G. Jónsson,
entrepreneur and chess aficionado, who attended the 1972 Match organized
by the Icelandic Chess Federation and acted as Fischer’s salmon fishing
guide. Einar S. Einarsson, former president of the ICF and chairman of the
RJF-Committee which campaigned for Fischer’s freedom, has also generously
provided many rare articles, souvenirs, drawings, postcards, and photograps
which are on display.

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