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Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - From America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness

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Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - From America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness Cover

ISBN13: 9780307463906
ISBN10: 0307463907
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Right up front, Frank Brady states his intentions in writing Endgame,, his new biography of chess-wunderkind-turned-enigmatic-crackpot Bobby Fischer: to answer the question 'What was Bobby Fischer really like?'

Brady is successful enough at that, relating with detail and perspective Fischer's astonishing, mercurial life. This is enough to make Endgame a compelling and useful biography but not a great one, for Brady never manages to get at the question one level deeper: 'What was Bobby Fischer really thinking?'" Marc Mohan, The Oregonian (Read the entire Oregonian review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Endgame is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady’s decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent—and confounding descent—of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer.  Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was only 10 and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book, which has much to say about the nature of American celebrity and the distorting effects of fame.  Drawing from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby’s own emails, this account is unique in that it limns Fischer’s entire life—an odyssey that took the Brooklyn-raised chess champion from an impoverished childhood to the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek to recognition as “the most famous man in the world” to notorious recluse.

 

At first all one noticed was how gifted Fischer was.  Possessing a 181 I.Q. and remarkable powers of concentration, Bobby memorized hundreds of chess books in several languages, and he was only 13 when he became the youngest chess master in U.S. history.   But his strange behavior started early.  In 1972, at the historic Cold War showdown in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he faced Soviet champion Boris Spassky, Fischer made headlines with hundreds of petty demands that nearly ended the competition.

 

It was merely a prelude to what was to come.

 

Arriving back in the United States to a hero’s welcome, Bobby was mobbed wherever he went—a figure as exotic and improbable as any American pop culture had yet produced.  No player of a mere “board game” had ever ascended to such heights.  Commercial sponsorship offers poured in, ultimately topping $10 million—but Bobby demurred.  Instead, he began tithing his limited money to an apocalyptic religion and devouring anti-Semitic literature. 

 

After years of poverty and a stint living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, Bobby remerged in 1992 to play Spassky in a multi-million dollar rematch—but the experience only deepened a paranoia that had formed years earlier when he came to believe that the Soviets wanted him dead for taking away “their” title.  When the dust settled, Bobby was a wanted man—transformed into an international fugitive because of his decision to play in Montenegro despite U.S. sanctions.  Fearing for his life, traveling with bodyguards, and wearing a long leather coat to ward off knife attacks, Bobby lived the life of a celebrity fugitive – one drawn increasingly to the bizarre.  Mafiosi, Nazis, odd attempts to breed an heir who could perpetuate his chess-genius DNA—all are woven into his late-life tapestry.

 

And yet, as Brady shows, the most notable irony of Bobby Fischer’s strange descent – which had reached full plummet by 2005 when he turned down yet another multi-million dollar payday—is that despite his incomprehensible behavior, there were many who remained fiercely loyal to him.  Why that was so is at least partly the subject of this book—one that at last answers the question: “Who was Bobby Fischer?”

Review:

"The Mozart of the chessboard is inseparable from the monster of paranoid egotism in this fascinating biography. Brady (Citizen Welles), founding publisher of Chess Life magazine and a friend of Fischer, gives a richly detailed account of the impoverished Brooklyn wunderkind's sensational opening--he was history's first 15-year-old grandmaster--and the 1972 match with Boris Spassky, in which Fischer captivated the world with his brilliant play and towering tantrums. Brady's chronicle of Fischer's graceless endgame is just as engrossing, as the chess superstar sinks into poverty after rejecting million-dollar matches; flirts with cults; and becomes, though himself Jewish, a raving anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist. Brady offers an insightful study of Fischer's obsessively honed gifts--his evocative description of the 13-year-old prodigy's legendary 'Game of the Century,' with its seemingly suicidal queen sacrifice, will stir even nonadepts--and a clear-eyed, slightly appalled portrait of his growing paranoia. One senses a connection: the pattern-seeking faculties that could discern distant, obscure checkmates went berserk when trained on the chaos of everyday existence, finding in every reversal not random misfortune but the subtle moves of hidden opponents. Brady gives us a vivid, tragic narrative of a life that became a chess game. Photos. (Feb. 1)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

About the Author

Frank Brady is internationally recognized as the person most knowledgeable about the life and career of Bobby Fischer.  Brady is the author of numerous critically acclaimed biographies, including Citizen Welles; Onassis: An Extravagant Life; and Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy (the first edition of which appeared in the mid-1960’s and focuses on the young Bobby).  Until recently, Brady was the Chairman of the Communications Department at St. John’s University, and he remains a full professor there.   He is also the President of the Marshall Chess Club and was the founding editor of Chess Life.

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gaby317, May 15, 2011 (view all comments by gaby317)
Previous knowledge of chess or its masters isn't necessary to an appreciation of Bobby Fischer's story or this latest work by Frank Brady. The book is an engrossing read - well researched and full of drama. It's the story of a child prodigy, his obsessive love for the game, his foray into chess at the time that the Russians and Eastern Europeans dominated chess, and his impressive

Endgame opens with Fischer's arrest in Japan for traveling on an expired passport. His fear, confusion, and the strangeness of the scene alerts to the drama that unfolds. This glimpse into Fischer's decline is juxtaposed against Fischer's childhood and his love of chess.

Fischer and his elder sister were raised by their mother on a very tight budget. Brady met Fischer in these early years and is well acquainted with the generous New Yorkers that served as teachers and mentors and extended family to young Bobby Fischer. Brady captures what Fischer was like - brilliant, easily bored, and deeply fascinated by chess. His sister bought a chess set when he was six years old. His sister and mother weren't as interested in the game, he beat them, and played against himself often and constantly. As his obsessive love for chess overtook his other interests, his mother grew worried enough to try to get him to seek therapy or reduce his obsession. While she worried about the intensity of his obsession with chess, his mother introduced him to chess masters, teachers, and groups. Fischer's skill and grasp of the game stood out early on. I particularly enjoyed reading about Fischer's early years - the people that took an interest in him, introduced him to other talented players, discussed the nuances of the game, brought him to tournaments, welcomed him into their exclusive clubs. Brady shares small details that give a clear picture of Bobby Fischer both at an early age and as his career quickly blossoms.

As we read about each of Fischer's matches and how each of them impacted his skill and career, we learn about sports competitions during the Cold War. Chess was dominated by the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, their champions were cared for, trained supported and received significant backing from their governments. Fischer was bitter - perhaps rightfully so - about the extent to which the Russian players were supported and worked together. His brilliance, youth, abrasiveness, and confrontational attitude stood out in these competitions. In his later years, Fischer became known for his membership in fringe religious groups, anti-semitic tirades, and reclusive behavior.

Our fascination with Bobby Fischer is reflected in movies such as Searching for Bobby Fischer and a new HBO documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World. Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness is a fascinating and well researched account of Bobby Fischer's life.

ISBN-10: 9780307463906 - Hardcover
Publisher: Crown (February 1, 2011), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307463906
Subtitle:
Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness
Author:
Brady, Frank
Author:
y, Frank
Author:
Brad
Publisher:
Crown
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Fischer, Bobby
Subject:
Chess players -- United States.
Subject:
Sports
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20110201
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9.55 x 6.42 x 1.37 in 1.5 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Games » Chess

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - From America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.50 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Crown - English 9780307463906 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The Mozart of the chessboard is inseparable from the monster of paranoid egotism in this fascinating biography. Brady (Citizen Welles), founding publisher of Chess Life magazine and a friend of Fischer, gives a richly detailed account of the impoverished Brooklyn wunderkind's sensational opening--he was history's first 15-year-old grandmaster--and the 1972 match with Boris Spassky, in which Fischer captivated the world with his brilliant play and towering tantrums. Brady's chronicle of Fischer's graceless endgame is just as engrossing, as the chess superstar sinks into poverty after rejecting million-dollar matches; flirts with cults; and becomes, though himself Jewish, a raving anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist. Brady offers an insightful study of Fischer's obsessively honed gifts--his evocative description of the 13-year-old prodigy's legendary 'Game of the Century,' with its seemingly suicidal queen sacrifice, will stir even nonadepts--and a clear-eyed, slightly appalled portrait of his growing paranoia. One senses a connection: the pattern-seeking faculties that could discern distant, obscure checkmates went berserk when trained on the chaos of everyday existence, finding in every reversal not random misfortune but the subtle moves of hidden opponents. Brady gives us a vivid, tragic narrative of a life that became a chess game. Photos. (Feb. 1)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "Right up front, Frank Brady states his intentions in writing Endgame,, his new biography of chess-wunderkind-turned-enigmatic-crackpot Bobby Fischer: to answer the question 'What was Bobby Fischer really like?'

Brady is successful enough at that, relating with detail and perspective Fischer's astonishing, mercurial life. This is enough to make Endgame a compelling and useful biography but not a great one, for Brady never manages to get at the question one level deeper: 'What was Bobby Fischer really thinking?'" (Read the entire Oregonian review)
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