Frank Brady's "Endgame"

Jun 28, 2011, 11:33 AM |

*** This book review may contain spoilers ***

Just finished reading Brady's "Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness." A number of facts mentioned by the author changed the image of Bobby I had prior to reading the book. It well may be that in the past, I had misread/misinterpreted other authors' works, and in consequence formed a false impression in my mind. Anyway, in this blog I want to list some of the facts that, to me at least, were "revelations."

First, there is Bobby's relationship with his mother, Regina. For years, I was under the impression that they were estranged from one another. Brady argues that this was not the case, that Bobby had a loving relationship with his mother throughout his life. Regina visited Bobby in Iceland during his match with Boris Spassky, disguised in a blond wig. They always corresponded, and it was a relationship where they "agreed to disagree", to quote the author. It is possible that Bobby clandestinely traveled to the United States in 1997 (at that time he faced an arrest for violating George Bush's executive order) in order to attend her funeral. In any case, there is evidence that this was one of Bobby's few relationships that withstood the test of time.

Another surprise concerns Fischer's relationship with Tal. Fischer visited Tal in a Curacao hospital during the 1962 Canditates', so they must have been friends, right? But not in 1959, when Fischer suffered four losses from Tal na positively hated the future WCC. There is a telling quote from Bobby's letter to Regina, showing just how furious with Tal's "weird behavior" (staring, circling the board, whispering with other players). Strangely, Brady makes no attempt to delve further and explain what might have changed their relationship.

Another surprise was the fact that in his later years, Bobby turned his attention to philosophy and religion. I was aware only of his "adventure" with the Worldwide Church of God, and was surprised that he read the Rajneesh Bible, studied Catholicism and possibly investigated many other belief systems. It was not chess literature that attracted Fischer every day to a Reykjavik library, but rather works of great philosophers.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the book, mainly because of those revelations that Frank Brady uncovered (for me, at least)...