REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Reclusive chess genius Bobby Fischer was buried in a private ceremony at a churchyard in southern Iceland, a television station reported.
Fischer, who died of kidney failure on Thursday at the age of 64, was interred Monday at Laugardaelir church outside the town of Selfoss, Iceland’s Channel 2 reported, citing the parish priest. Reverend Kristinn Agust Fridfinnsson told the TV station the ceremony was arranged so hastily he did not arrive until after the burial was over.
Because the church is located on land owned by a family member of Fischer’s Icelandic friend and spokesman, Gardar Sverrisson, the priest’s permission was not needed for the burial.
The funeral was attended by only a handful of people, including Fischer’s longtime companion, Miyoko Watai, and Sverrisson, the TV station reported.
Sverrisson did not immediately return a call seeking comment late Monday.
A troubled chess genius, Fisher gained global fame in 1972 when he defeated the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in Reykjavik for the world championship. The showdown, played out at the height of the Cold War, took on mythic dimensions as a clash between the world’s two superpowers.
Fischer lost his world title in 1975 after refusing to defend it against Anatoly Karpov. He dropped out of competitive chess and largely out of view, spending time in Hungary and the Philippines and emerging occasionally to make outspoken and often outrageous comments, sometimes attacking the United States.
Fischer – born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Brooklyn, New York – was arrested in Japan in 2004 and threatened with extradition to the US to face charges he broke international sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by going there to play a chess match in 1992.
Fischer renounced his US citizenship and spent nine months in custody before the dispute was resolved when Iceland – a chess-mad nation of 300,000 – granted him citizenship.