Playing Ray Robson 8

Dec 2, 2010, 6:14 PM |

I finished reading Chess Child by Gary Robson on Thanksgiving Day. The book was a quick and enjoyable read primarily on the life of GM Ray Robson from birth through the time that he achieved a GM rating at age 15. The book naturally provides the reader with a fair amount of information on the author's life and views.

I'll preface my comments by saying that I met and chatted with the author on the day of simul. Gary was easy to talk to, very approachable, and, I believe,would make an impression on most folks as an easy-going guy. I also met the author's parents, who were also both very nice people and one is mentioned in the book a few times.

Superficially the book gives a very interesting insight into what it's like to be a chess dad. I think that the title Chess Dad would more accurately depict the book and parents will understand why.

If you liked the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer (and if you have not seen it , you should right away) you'll very much enjoy Chess Child and find some parallels between the movie and Chess Child. But I think that chess fans will enjoy the Chess Child book even more so than the Searching for Bobby Fischer movie.

Digging a few layers into the author's perspectives and biases - every author naturally has a bias - I sensed a few inconsistencies. There is mention of wanting to maintain privacy and to avoid petty email stalker incidents yet a biographical publication of two lives does not promote privacy.

And I hope that the author kept a few of Ray's playing characteristics close to the vest. As a former corporate strategy major in graduate business school, I sensed that perhaps a few too many corporate secrets were shared. But Gary Robson seems like a smart guy so I expect that not all was revealed.

Also mentioned was avoiding comparisons to Bobby Fischer yet in parts of the book the comparisons were made. I am of the thought that the comparison should be made for the good of chess and the enjoyment of chess fans. Is Ray Robson the next Bobby Fischer? The question makes great fodder in the halls of chess clubs and tournament venues and perhaps greater fodder towards the support of the young GM. Chess fans will find enjoyment in following the career of young Robson.

And several subtle and yet not so subtle hints of social, political, and theological leanings seemed to run a bit counter to later life actions and views on finances and economics. These are not mountainous differences but rather molehill adjustments and contradictions that most lives develop as the responsibilities of family and children grow. Yet the seeming contradictions raised questions for me that went unanswered.

One measure of how much I like a book is whether I'd want to have dinner with the author to discuss the unanswered questions as well as the unasked questions. I'd look forward to a two-bottles-of-wine dinner with the author and his wife.

Chess fans, especially U.S. chess fans, should read this book. I'm pulling for GM Ray Robson and I'm pulling for U.S. Chess.