Chess champion Bobby Fisher requested Catholic burial in Iceland

Legendary chess player Bobby Fischer, who made history by dethroning the Soviet chess king Boris Spassky in 1972, asked to be buried as a Catholic, according to officials of the Catholic Church in Iceland, where he had been living since 1992.

The famous and eccentric chess player, who died last Thursday at the age of 64, was buried Tuesday in Iceland during a private Catholic ceremony.

The French news agency AFP reported that Fischer, who was born into a Jewish family in New York, expressly asked to be buried according to the Catholic rite.  Father Jakob Rolland of the Diocese of Reykiavik, the capital of Iceland, presided at the funeral.

The former champion “had expressed his desire to have a catholic burial and we honored that” with a ceremony that took place in Laugardaela, a small city 50 kilometers south of the capital,” Father Rolland said.

Only five people attended the ceremony, including his Japanese friend Miyoko Watai, who traveled from Japan to attend to the funeral.  Father Rolland said she organized the funeral together with a group of Fischer’s friends in Iceland.

“I don’t know if he converted to the Catholic faith, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t,” said Father Rolland, in reference to the reserved manner in which Fischer discussed his private life and his personal decisions.

By becoming a citizen of Iceland, Fischer escaped serving a prison sentence in the United States for money he earned during a tournament in 1992 in the former Yugoslavia—at that time under a UN embargo—where he again faced and defeated Russian champion Spassky.


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