cover image Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer

Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer

Frank Brady, Crown, $25.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307-46390-6

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)