Sunday, December 8, 2013

Endgame by Frank Brady

In Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall -- from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, author Frank Brady takes the reader inside the world of chess genius, Bobby Fischer.

I really enjoyed this book. Of course, I knew the name Bobby Fischer, but knew very little about him. I also didn't know that much about chess. I know the pieces and their moves (mostly). However, I knew nothing about strategy, the world of chess, the other players, and the competitions. I should have realized that it was ultra-competitive, but even that was new to me. Because of all of that, the book was extremely enlightening. I still don't really know how to play chess, though, but I didn't expect to.

By reading this book, I think I have a better understanding of the Fischer and his life. Chess played a major part of his life, but he had an on-again, off-again relationship with religion, excelled at many different sports, and was a voracious reader.

As for the chess portions of the book, Brady goes through the major points of some of Fischer's most famous games, at a level that's easy to understand for those who aren't grandmasters. Like I said above, even though I'm not that familiar with the game, I found of Brady's explanations quite easy to follow and exceptionally fascinating.

There were hints that Fischer possibly suffered from some type of mental illness, possibly even more than one type. He was temperamental, grew restless easily, hated the media attention, yet wanted everyone to recognize him. He was also an absolute genius. I think, as a whole, Fischer probably was misunderstood by the general public and the media.

Besides chess, Fischer is also known for his anger and outbursts at the Russians and Jews. There's a lot that was presented that I can forgive, tolerate and even understand. His anti-Semitic tirades, however, I cannot. Unforgiveable. Period. I wish the author had addressed Fischer's reasons for these strong views or his need to lash out. Saying that Fischer thought the Russians were cheating doesn't justify it. For me, Fischer's reasons are still a mystery.

I wished the author would have just written a straight-up biography rather than try to address or dispute some of what the other sources said about Fischer. Because of the disputative asides, the book felt a little biased and defensive at times.

Highly recommended. I think it would be helpful to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the game and a little interest in it, but there's no need to be an expert. Those who enjoy reading about celebrities or biographies might also enjoy this one.

For more information about this book, please visit the RandomHouse website.

Endgame by Frank Brady, Crown Publishers (Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780307463906(Uncorrected Proof), 384p, includes notes and bibliography.

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