Book: Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall—from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness
Author: Frank Brady
Published: 2011 (Crown Publishers)
Pages: 328 (of biography)
All I learned from this book is that Bobby Fischer was kind of a snotty kid who grew up into a definitely obnoxious and for-absolutely-sure paranoid adult who was good at chess but bad with everything else in life. Like literally every other thing that makes a human being function in this world, he was terrible at.
And was he really that great at chess? Before I started reading, my answer would be duh, based on the fact that he’s the only chess player I have ever been able to name. But this record of his professional life whips his wins back and forth in a monotonous list of matches that makes his skills sound like they fluctuated on their own whims. I guess his losses were signs of growth, incredible leaps forward, and then signaled a not-so-slow-and-steady decline as he got older. I’m guessing, though, based on match recaps.
Brady claims he was a very close friend of Fischer’s through both of their lives, but the only time that comes through is when he relates a meeting in a restaurant about something so minor I’ve already forgotten what it was. I appreciate his objectivity in theory, but the worst time to practice discretion this much is when talking about a famous guy with whom you had an inside scoop. These are really bloodless anecdotes for someone claiming to be so close to the subject. I’m not talking about doing a smear job, just something with personal touch and the emotional authority that the chess press didn’t have access to.
Oh yeah, and there’s such a thing as the chess press. I had no idea. But they loved Bobby until he started crying conspiracy really loudly at the USSR and Jewish people. Understandable.
I wanted to meet Bobby Fischer the person and instead I met the chess player who doesn’t understand the concept of “dude, you get paid at least $1 million just for showing up.”