Friday, July 01, 2011

"Endgame" by Frank Brady

Recently finished the compelling Frank Brady book Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness.

In terms of an actual review of Endgame, Janet Maslin published "Odd, Odd Case of Bobby Fisher" for the New York Times and my take on the book is that it was definitely worth the read. Even if the thought of Fisher and his story doesn't interest a potential reader, there's something interesting about people who live a remarkable life of extremes. To this point, the Robert Lipsyte (whose book I recently reviewed here) book jacket quote seems spot on:

"Weird and fascinating... Bravo, Brady."

Fisher is portrayed by Brady as brilliant (and I suppose pretty much any biographer of Fisher would agree), but also someone prone to obsessiveness. He was exposed to chess at a young age and then spent enormous time during his formative years playing the game... with two mentions by Brady relating to the impact of this time spent:

- A Robert Frost quote about having a successful education - "just hanging around until you have caught on"

- The Malcolm Gladwell "10,000 hours to master something" concept from his book Outliers (which I reviewed here)

Fisher combined a high intellect with putting the time in to master the game and an over the top focus on winning... with these things leading to his becoming a World Champion, but also likely to his paranoia and eventual retreat from the game of chess.

Again, a fascinating (and troubled) individual that Brady provides a very readable look at.