Accusations by World Chess Champions Bobby Fischer and Vladimir Kramnik


World Chess Champions Bobby Fischer and Vladimir Kramnik are of different generations. Fischer lived from March 9, 1943, to January 17, 2008. Kramnik was born on June 25, 1975.

Bobby Fischer Comes Home: The Final Years in Iceland, a Saga of Friendship and Lost Illusions, written by six-time Icelandic Champion Grandmaster Helgi Olafsson, mentions Kramnik a handful of times. Olafsson’s book, published in 2012 by New in Chess, lists Fischer’s suspicions about several chess players and their games. At the end of 2023, Kramnik posted on social media that more should be done to investigate possible chess cheating.

The Olafsson Connection

At the start of Bobby Fischer Comes Home: The Final Years in Iceland, a Saga of Friendship and Lost Illusions, Olafsson recounted his chess club debut in the Westman Islands. Its only populated island, Heimaey, had approximately 5,000 residents when Olafsson’s family moved there in 1968 from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. Olafsson was 11 years old that summer, and first heard about Bobby Fischer then.

Bobby Fischer Comes Home

In 1972, on excursions to Reykjavik, Olafsson watched some games of the match between World Champion Boris Spassky and Fischer. Fischer won that match to become World Champion from 1972–1975.

In 1992, Vladimir Kramnik debuted for the Russian Olympiad team, scoring 8.5 out of 9. His only draw was with Olafsson. 1992 was also the year of the Fischer versus Spassky rematch, held in then war-torn Yugoslavia. Playing the match put Fischer in violation of Executive Order 12810. After the match, which Fischer won, he never returned to the United States. Thanks to the efforts of Olafsson and others, Fischer was given Icelandic citizenship in 2005.

During those final years in Iceland, Fischer occasionally discussed making a comeback to chess. Instead of a third match with Spassky, Olafsson wrote, “Some other top-class grandmaster had to play Bobby, preferably World Champion Vladimir Kramnik.” However, that Fischer–Kramnik match never happened.

Bobby’s Chess Accusations

Fischer was convinced that some chess players were prearranging games. For example, the ninth game of the 1984/1985 Karpov versus Kasparov World Chess Championship match included a knight retreat in a knight and six pawns versus bishop and six pawns endgame.

Fischer said that Karpov’s knight retreat was based on Fischer’s win, with the same material, against Grandmaster Anthony Saidy in the U.S. Championship 1963/1964. Fischer told Olafsson, “There is absolutely no chance they could have reached this position without prior knowledge of my win.”

Kramnik’s Chess Accusations closed Kramnik’s blog and muted Kramnik’s account on December 24, 2023, because of “GM Kramnik’s escalating attacks against some of the most respected members of the chess community and some of it’s [sic] most promising young talents.” On December 25, 2023, Kramnik joined Twitter. Two of his December 27, 2023, tweets  are accusations:

Read Olafsson’s book

Bobby Fischer’s chess accusations are one part of Bobby Fischer Comes Home: The Final Years in Iceland, a Saga of Friendship and Lost Illusions. But there is much more to Olafsson’s book, which is an enjoyable read. Quotes from Njal’s Saga, a quintessentially Icelandic work, begin most of the chapters.

Music also plays a role. Olafsson quoted Cat Stevens lyrics in one chapter and, in another chapter, gave details of the meeting between Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith and Fischer.

Fischer is depicted at various locations around Iceland: his home, a salmon fishing spot, and restaurants. In his final years, Fischer perfected his increment chess clock, which is now standard tournament equipment. He promoted Fischer Random Chess, also known as Chess960, which now has its own World Championship.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

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