Check(mate) this ego – “Endgame” by Frank Brady

I don’t know jack about chess.

Well, that’s not 100% true.  I know it’s a game with black and white squares and pieces.  I know that “checkmate” is the ultimate goal.  I also know there’s a musical (called “Chess”) about a chess match during the cold war, which is loosely based off Bobby Fischer.

There – That’s all I know of Chess and Mr. Fischer.

“Endgame,” Frank Brady’s new biography of Bobby Fischer, is a painstakingly researched story of a man who raised eyebrows at every turn, from his youthful mastery of an incredibly hard game to his later Anti-Semitic remarks and fleeing from the United States. Bobby Fischer was a complicated guy who remained an enigma until his death in Iceland in 2008.

Growing up in New York with his single mother, Bobby had only one interest – the game of Chess.  His obsession with the game led to his triumph, but a serious lack of social skills, a seriously inflated ego, and a hot temper nearly (and eventually) cost him everything. He turned his back on fame, became a recluse spouting conspiracy theories and hate-speech, and eventually found himself an ex-patriot of the U.S.A., finally having to seek asylum in Iceland, where he died out of the sight of a world still fascinated by him.

Brady takes it all step-by-step as he charts the rise of this wunderkind, and fortunately doesn’t go deep into the technical aspects of chess.  We, as readers, are given enough to know what was a mistake and what was a good move as far as Bobby’s countless games go, and it’s more than enough.  (There are a few parts of the book that get a little heavy anyway, due to the sheer number of chess matches detailed, but they’re easy to skim.) Fischer is an anti-hero the reader won’t necessarily root for, but he’s mesmerizing nonetheless.

It’s an interesting read about an intriguing person.  Who can ask for more from a biography?

(Interesting note:  One of Fischer’s classmates was a young girl named Barbra Streisand, who admits to having had a crush on the mysterious Fischer.  Who knew?)

“Endgame” will be in stores February 1, 2011.


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on December 27, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Frank Brady,

    I have met Frank Brady, and I can tell you that he met Bobby Fisher and for some reason has devoted his life to him.
    Brady runs the Marshall Chess Club in NYC with an iron fist. He is also chair of his department at St John’s Univ.
    I don’t think he is a bad person, but he is certainly doing nothing good for chess by constantly publicisizing the career of Fisher, who is an embarrassment to humanity and to all chess players.
    Pretty much the only good thing Fisher had was his love of chess, he was an anti- semitic lunatic.
    What is striking is Brady’s constant promotion and nostalgia of someone who we must move on from.
    Fisher brought a lot of great players to the game… but really my friend, it’s time to move on….

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