It is probably fair to describe Bobby Fischer as a troubled genius. The chess prodigy became a national hero when he beat the Soviet grand master at the height of the Cold War to become World Chess Champion in 1972 and a traitor when he defied US sanctions to play a rematch in Belgrade during the Balkan Wars 20 years later.
It is unlikely that Fischer was moved by either description. He was not a man who cared for others’ opinions. He became paranoid, obsessed with conspiracy theories, and angry with the world. Having beaten the best chess players in the world, he seemed to lose his purpose. He no longer played chess but could not find anything else to absorb his mind.
After making inflammatory remarks about 9/11 during interviews, he ended up in Iceland, where he spent the rest of his life as a recluse. He invented his own form of chess, which, with his trademark modesty, he named Fischerandom.[
Although in his final years, his appearance had suggested that he was penniless, he left an estate worth several million dollars. He was found dead in his hotel room in 2008. Even in death, however, Fischer rejected the regard of others. He arranged his own secret burial, without regard to the law. His grave was dug during the night, and only five people attended the service, which took place at first light. Even the minister at the church was not informed until it was over.