Bobby Fischer, Chess Master, Dies at 64 By BRUCE WEBER Bobby Fischer, the iconoclastic genius who was one of the greatest chess players the world has ever seen, has died, a close family friend, Gardar Sverrisson, confirmed Friday. He was 64 and died on Thursday in a hospital in Reykjavík, Iceland. No cause of death was given but he had suffered for some time from an unspecified illness. Mr. Sverrisson, who lived in the same apartment building in Reykjavik as Mr. Fischer, said: He was a close family friend and we all miss him very much. Mr. Fischer, the most powerful American player in history, had moved to Iceland in 2005. He had emerged briefly in 1992 from a mysterious seclusion that had lasted two decades and defied an American ban on conducting business in wartorn Yugoslavia to play a $5 million match against his old nemesis, the Russian-born grandmaster Boris Spassky. After he won handily, he dropped out of sight again, living alone. He avoided arrest on American charges over his Yugoslavia appearance and stayed in touch with his few friends in the United States by telephone, compelling them to keep his secrets or risk his rejection. He lived in Budapest -- and possibly the Philippines and Switzerland -- and emerged now and then on radio stations in Iceland, Hungary and the Philippines to rant in increasingly belligerent terms against the United States and against Jews. Mr. Fischers 1992 victory against Mr. Spassky was a sad reprise of his most glorious triumph. It was in summer 1972, in a match played in Reykjavik, that Mr. Fischer wrested the world championship from Mr. Spassky, becoming the first and as yet only American to win the title, which Russian-born players had held for more than four decades. Mr. Fischer won with such brilliance and dramatic flair that he became an icon, an unassailable representative of greatness in the world of competitive games, much as Babe Ruth had been and Michael Jordan would become. It was Bobby Fischer who had, single-handedly, made the world recognize that chess on its highest level was as competitive as football, as thrilling as a duel to the death, as esthetically satisfying as a fine work of art, as intellectually demanding as any form of human activity, wrote Harold C. Schonberg, who reported on the Reykjavik match for The New York Times, in his 1973 book, Grandmasters of Chess. In July 2004, he was seized by the Japanese authorities when he tried to board a plane from Japan to Manila and was accused of trying to leave the country on an invalid passport. He was detained in prison for nine months while the various governments, as well as a staunch group of supporters in the chess world, tried to resolve the issue. cont.