Bobby Fischer Comes Home

The Final Years in Iceland, a Saga of Friendship and Lost Illusions

Helgi Olafsson

Reviewer: Jeremy Silman
New In Chess
143 pages

Like most chess players, I closely followed the drama of Fischer’s arrest in Japan (at the behest of the United States) and rooted for his salvation since it was clear that he would die a miserable death in an American prison cell if he was extradited to the U.S.A. As we all know, Iceland (to its eternal credit) eventually came to Bobby’s rescue and made him a citizen, thereby allowing him to spend his final years with dignity and in safety.

But after Fischer reached Iceland for the last time, what happened? What did he do, how did he live, did he have friends, was he happy, was he as crazy as ever? Also important was the fight for his estate after his death, with a young lady from the Philippines claiming that her daughter was fathered by Fischer, his two nephews Alexander and Nicolas Targ demanding everything, and his constant companion, Miyoko Watai, who claimed they were married. To me, the only one who deserved his estate was Watai, who stood by him through thick and thin. I didn’t (and still don’t) view the others in a positive light, but the law (quite correctly!) doesn’t cater to emotion and demanded proof from all parties involved. How did this ultimately turn out?

So many questions, but few definitive answers… until grandmaster Helgi Olafsson’s excellent book appeared. Bobby Fischer Comes Home tells the story of Helgi’s infatuation with Fischer as a youth, and his eventual role as one of Fischer’s closest friends during Bobby’s final years in Iceland. Well written, this personal narrative pretty much answers all the questions I posed above, and much, much more. This includes Anand’s meeting with Fischer, Fischer’s search for the perfect apartment, Watai’s constant trips back and forth from Japan to Iceland, his dependence on Mr. Olafsson as the two got closer, rare moments of peace, Fischer’s ever-increasing discontent with his exile, and eventually his refusal to accept medical care as his kidney’s shut down, which led to his death.

In the book’s Epilogue, we also get the details of the legal struggle for Fischer’s money, which ended with his wife (Watai) rightfully getting the nod.

I would like to thank Mr. Olafsson for writing Bobby Fischer Comes Home, Watai for standing by her man though many dark, difficult times, and New in Chess for publishing this informative and important book.