In winning the World Chess Championship match in Iceland against Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union Bobby Fischer became a cultural icon whose fame transcended the chess world igniting an explosion of interest in the game.
Bobby Fischer died aged 64 in 2008, of Kidney Failure in Reykjavík, Iceland without a Will. His estate was estimated to be worth at least $2 million.
Bobby started to learn chess at the age of 6 after his older sister Joan bought him a chess set; becoming the youngest player ever to win the United States Junior Championship at 13, and by winning the United States Championships the following year – the youngest person ever to hold that title.
At 15 he became the youngest international chess grand master. In defeating Spassky Bobby became the first American-born world chess champion in 1972.
Bobby’s defeat of a Soviet opponent, in what became known as the “Match of the Century,” in the midst of the Cold War was seen as a form of “trial by combat” between representatives of Communism and the “Free West”. Fischer’s historic win also made chess a popular game in the United States.
Known for being demanding he became even more insufferable after becoming the American who beat the Russians at their own game. Bobby refused to play the challenger for his title and was stripped of his championship by the International Chess Federation. After which his life went into decline.
In 1992 Bobby played a $5 million rematch with Spassky in Yugoslavia; travel to the country by American citizens was illegal at the time. Bobby became an exile to avoid facing criminal charges in the U.S..
Bobby became increasingly erratic in his political views. Although he was Jewish he held anti-Semitic views and celebrated the attacks on the World Trade Center in September of 2001.
In 2004, Bobby was jailed for several months in Japan when he tried to leave the country with an invalid passport; he was granted Icelandic citizenship in 2005.
Under Icelandic law the spouse of a person who dies intestate shall inherit one third of the estate and any children shall inherit two thirds equally.
Following Bobby’s death, there were competing claims by Marilyn Ong, who claimed to be the mother of Bobby’s daughter Jinky; Miyoko Watai, a Japanese women’s chess champion, and head of the Japanese Chess Association, who claimed she married Bobby in 2004; and two of Bobby’s nephews, Alexander and Nicholas Targ.
Miyoko Watai, had her claim that that she and Bobby were married certified by Iceland’s highest court, making her the heir to Fischer’s estate.
Marilyn Ong claimed that Bobby fathered her daughter Jinky and had supported them when he lived in the Philippines and continued to do after he moved to Iceland. As there were no samples of Bobby’s D.N.A. from the Hospital where he died, the Icelandic Supreme Court ordered that Bobby’s remains be exhumed to determine if Bobby was the father of Jinky; the claim of paternity was found to be false. In 2011, an Icelandic court ruled that Watai was Fischer’s widow and the sole heir to his estate.
The mess regarding Bobby’s estate could have been avoided if he had made a Will. His loved ones would not have had to engage in protracted legal dealings in order to prove their legitimacy to claim under Icelandic law, and Bobby could have directed his estate to any beneficiary he chose.