Comment: Flashback: Bobby Fischer Lands In Iceland

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Flashback: Bobby Fischer Lands In Iceland

Bobby Fischer's latest audacious gambit has begun in a wind-lashed corner of the north Atlantic.

The volatile chess icon arrived in chilly Reykjavik late Thursday, a brand-new Icelandic citizen and unrepentant critic of the United States, which considers him as a fugitive from justice.

Hours after being freed from nine months' detention in Japan, Fischer called the United States "an illegitimate country" and said the charges against him were groundless.

Arriving at Reykjavik airport, Fischer, 62, said he was feeling "good, very good," and accepted a bouquet of flowers from fans before being whisked away in a car.

Dressed in jeans and sporting a bushy gray beard, Fischer stepped from a chartered jet to applause from about 200 supporters in a tiny, chess-loving nation still grateful for its role as the site of his most famous match - a 1972 world championship victory over Soviet player Boris Spassky that was the highlight of Fischer's career and a world-gripping symbol of Cold War rivalry.

Fischer was freed early Thursday after nine months' detention in Japan, where he had been held by authorities for trying to leave the country using an invalid U.S. passport. Japan agreed to release him after he accepted Iceland's offer of citizenship.

Even minutes after his release in Tokyo, Fischer remained defiant and at one point he unzipped his pants and acted as if he were going to urinate on a wall at the airport.

During his long trip to Iceland - by scheduled flight from Tokyo to Copenhagen and then by chartered jet from a small airport in southern Sweden - Fischer railed against the governments of Japan and the United States, calling Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi "mentally ill" and a "stooge" of President Bush.

"They are war criminals and should be hung," said Fischer, referring to the Japanese prime minister and President Bush.

"This was a kidnapping because the charges that the Japanese charged me with are totally nonsense," he told Associated Press Television News on the flight.

An American chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15, the enigmatic Fischer has long had a reputation for volatility, increasingly strange behavior, and has a troubled relationship with the United States.

Aboard the flight from Tokyo, he called the United States "an illegitimate country ... just like the bandit state of Israel."

"Give a man a gun, and he could rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he could rob the world."