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BIOGRAPHY: Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall

August 13, 2011 | John P. | Comments (0)

Endgame Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall

Biographer, chess player, and associate Frank Brady has written an excellent, balanced biographical account of the life of Robert James “Bobby” Fischer (1943-2008) in Endgame: Bobby Fischer's remarkable rise and fall -- from America's brightest prodigy to the edge of madness (2011). In fact, this is Brady’s second book on the subject – he penned the bestseller Profile of a prodigy; the life and games of Bobby Fischer (first published in 1965; revised edition in 1973).

Fischer became World Chess Champion in 1972 by defeating Soviet player Boris Spassky by 12.5 points to 8.5 points in Reykjavik, Iceland, only to forfeit the title 3 years later. Brady covered the highs and lows of Fischer’s career and life, including: his victory in the “Game of the Century”; becoming the first 15-year old grandmaster in history; his accusatory article in Sports Illustrated entitled “The Russians Have Fixed World Chess”; his dominance of the United States Closed Championship in the late 1950s/early 1960s; his win of the world title in 1972 and subsequent forfeiture in 1975; his 1992 re-match with Spassky in Yugoslavia and subsequent censure by the American government for disavowing an United Nations embargo forbidding economic activity in that country; his growing anti-Semitism despite having a Jewish background; and, his later-in-life, virulent anti-Americanism that reached a climax with his controversial comments following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Brady delved into Fischer’s personal life, including his relationships with his mother Regina and sister Joan, his Japanese wife Miyoko Watai, his alleged daughter Jinky Young (whose relationship was disproved by DNA testing) and her mother Marilyn Young.

What have others said about Endgame? Dylan Loeb McClain, the chess columnist for the New York Times, noted that people were interested in the 1972 World Championship Match on account of the Cold War context but were also interested in Fischer’s unpredictable behaviour, a point that McClain said that Brady was only partially successful in explaining. Those unfamiliar with chess history may be confused by some of the references as the book does not include an appendix outlining Fischer’s chess tournament and match results. Janet Maslin, also writing in the New York Times, stated that Bobby Fischer was “both one of the most admired and one of the most reviled figures in American history”. She felt that “Endgame” was intimate and fascinating given Brady’s relationship with Fischer and his access to unpublished material. Maslin’s opinion differed from McClain’s as she felt that no prior knowledge of chess personalities, strategies, or tournament rules was necessary to read “Endgame”.

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's remarkable rise and fall -- from America's brightest prodigy to the edge of madness is also available for loan from Toronto Public Library in eAudiobook format.

Frank Brady has also written biographies on other interesting personalities, available for borrowing from Toronto Public Library, including:

Citizen Welles: a biography of Orson Welles (1989)

James Boswell, the later years, 1769-1795 (1984)

Onassis, an extravagant life (1977)

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