01/18/2008 AT 08:45 AM EST
Chess champion Bobby Fischer has died in Iceland, the BBC is reporting
. According to his rep, Gardar Sverrisson, Chicago-born Fischer, 64, died on Jan. 16 from an undisclosed cause.
The legendary but troubled chess master, who learned to play solo as a pre-teen after his sister bought a small set, gained worldwide recognition in 1972 amid the Cold War chill by beating the Soviet player Boris Spassky in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík.
The pair had a rematch in 1992 in Yugoslavia, which broke international sanctions and as a result the U.S. Department of the Treasury drafted an arrest warrant for Fischer. He never returned to the U.S.
To compound his problems, Fischer alienated many more people through hostile comments he made in radio interviews about U.S. foreign policy after 9/11. His Chess Federation membership was canceled unanimously and Fischer was later arrested in Japan after U.S. officials revoked his passport – prompting Fischer to apply for residency papers to live out his days in Iceland.