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

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,512 Ratings  ·  361 Reviews
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 disto ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 2011)
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Paul Bryant
ON THE INEXTRICABILITY OF COMEDY AND HORROR – SOME LESSONS FROM ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE AND ONE OF THE VILEST HUMANS OF THE LAST 60 YEARS

The very thing that made him great destroyed him. If that’s not a Greek tragedy I don’t know what is. But if nobility of character is a requirement in our tragedies, then look elsewhere.

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6

Young Fischer read chess books all the time and constantly played through the games. His chess set became encrusted with crumbs and bits of food, and was ne
...more
Arminius
Sep 25, 2015 Arminius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very entertaining book about what some have called the World’s greatest Chess player Bobby Fischer. He was raised, along with his sister, by a very well educated mother named Regina who continued to have bad luck. Regina was studying in a Soviet Union medical school when the Soviets were imposing Anti-Semitic pogroms. She chose, with Bobby and his sister, to immigrate to the United States. Bobby’s father, Gerhardt Fischer, choose to immigrate to France. After a short stay in Chicago Re ...more
David
Jul 06, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chess players, bearded cranks
Young Bobby Fischer

Like go, chess is a game I know how to play but not well. I own books and have half-heartedly studied the game off and on, but I will never be a great or even particularly good player. Still, the beauty and logic of the game attracts me, along with all its storied lore.

Most people know that Bobby Fischer was once the greatest American player in the world, possibly the greatest player in the world period. Certainly he was one of the best players ever. This biography tells his life story by a symp
...more
Stian
Bobby Fischer is arguably the greatest chess player in history. Most people with some knowledge of chess would surely rank Fischer among the three greatest players of all time. A very common question to today's elite players when they are interviewed is, "Fischer or Kasparov?" The two are generally recognised as the strongest players in chess history, and rightly so.

Bobby said of himself that he was just a genius who happened to play chess, and some adults in his early life also said that if he
...more
Jackson
Aug 03, 2011 Jackson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Endgame is a disappointing read. For a subject as interesting and enigmatic as Bobby Fischer, Brady's portrait is surprisingly pedestrian. While he does a good job of narrating Fischer's life and bringing forward aspects of his so-called "wilderness years" that have never been known (the reason I gave two stars), the book features none of the psychological analysis or interpretation that good biographies of genius/insane characters possess (see my reviews on Einstein and John Nash's respective b ...more
John
Apr 15, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mikhail Moisevich Botvinnik, 51, the then World Chess Champion and three time winner played a game of Chess against Bobby Fischer in Varna Bulgaria. When the game adjourned for the day Bobby held a definitely superior position and after a quick review of the days moves went to bed early feeling comfortable. However, Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Paul Keres, Efim Geller, Semyon Furman and Yuri Averbach worked on the position until five-thirty the next morning. When play resumed Fischer w ...more
CRO
3 1/4 Stars

I don't play chess; I don't even know how. Before reading this book, I knew even less about Bobby Fischer - except that he was some sort of chess phenom that then became a Garbo-esque recluse. And this little bit I only knew because of that movie from the 90's Searching for Bobby Fischer - which isn't even really about him but about another young chess phenom trying to find balance between the obsessive game of chess and having a normal kid's life. But I knew enough about Fischer to b
...more
K
May 27, 2011 K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it may just be my perverse interest in random celebrities but I liked this book. Bobby Fischer is fascinating -- vile, admittedly, but fascinating all the same. And Frank Brady's biography managed to be both informative and interesting, doing justice to Fischer's story and multifaceted personality.

Many goodreads reviewers complained that Brady, as a longtime friend of Fischer's, was less than objective and not the best person to write Fischer's biography. While I think it's true that Brady
...more
Ms.pegasus
Apr 15, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who remembers Fischer as a chess prodigy
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: my husband
Success in professional competition requires more than talent. To succeed a competitor needs a unique combination of inhuman stamina and obsessive desire – drives that enable him to revisit the unpleasant experience of every defeat in order to analyze and learn. Bobby Fischer had those qualities from the very beginning. At six, he taught himself to play chess. When his sister and mother tired of playing with him, he played against himself. At age 7 he was invited to join the Brooklyn Chess Club ...more
Fred Forbes
Feb 23, 2012 Fred Forbes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a cold night in Wisconsin in 1970 when my friend, a relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers suggested we play some chess. I knew the moves and that was about it. He cleaned my clock, time and again. I began to read chess books, got an occasional draw. Joined the local club and began to play in tournaments, got more draws, but never beat him. Still, a life-long love of the game began. I still have a first edition of Fisher's "My 60 Memorable Games" that my father gave to me and I can stil ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 06, 2011 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: may-june-2011
Chess has given the world many interesting words. One of the best is “zugzwang,” which is the state in which any move will disadvantage a player. Brady may have been in zugzwang when he chose to write this book. On the one hand, his friendship with and access to the famously secretive and difficult Bobby Fischer was the only thing that made the writing of a biography possible. On the other hand, several critics felt that Brady is too sympathetic to Fischer and that he tries to rationalize or exp ...more
Adrian
Tells the full story of amazing rise and sad fall. US champion at age 14 in 1956 he set the chess world on its ear and then took chess to the wider world with his victory over Boris Spassky in 1972. From there of course the story descends into what can only be described as a kind of madness. The paranoia, rage against the US government, hateful anti-semitism, picking fights with friends only trying to help him and enormous sense of superiority over all other mortals- yet it's still impossible to ...more
Dean Dalton
Jun 17, 2016 Dean Dalton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good biography of the man many consider to be the greatest chess player of all time. When Fischer finally reached the top of the chess world in 1972 after defeating Boris Spassky in a memorable match, it seemed as though it would be the beginning of an era of dominance for Fischer. Instead, Fischer never defended his title and became a recluse until finally returning for one final game in 1992 to ease his financial troubles. Fischer was a genius on the chess board but off it he was childish ...more
Benjamin Zapata
Sep 07, 2011 Benjamin Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have seen the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer",than you have seen him,you may have an idea about him,tho the film is not about him but about another prodigy of the game.This engrossing book is a revealing look at the life of one of the greatest chessplayer in the history of the game,Bobby Fischer. Rich in detail and insight,it tells the remarkable rise of Fischer to the top of the game,ending with him becoming World Champion,and he did it all by himself,hard work and dedication,and tha ...more
Gerry Claes
Apr 27, 2012 Gerry Claes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1972 everyone knew the name of the World Chess Champion and in 2012 I am willing to bet that you can't find one person who knows the name of the current World Chess Champion! The difference? Bobby Fischer!

In 1972 the Russians(Soviets) dominated the game of international chess and other nations could only hope that they would compete somewhat respectfully against them. And then along came Bobby Fischer. Fischer was born in poverty to a single mom (Fischer's father disappeared from his life bef
...more
Chad Sayban
With Endgame, Frank Brady has penned one of the most evenhanded accounts of Bobby Fischer – the chess genius who became the only American world champion by staring down the Soviet chess machine at the height of the cold war. However, that is only one facet of a life filled with contradictions. While Fischer was unflappable at the chessboard, he was insecure in the rest of his life. He was a voracious reader, he self-educated himself – often times with treaties by neo-Nazis and religious charlata ...more
Elc
Jul 31, 2011 Elc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Warning: Spoiler alert.

Bobby Fischer (BF) was a boy genius who lost his mind as an adult. Playing--and becoming really good at--board games with his sister was a gateway drug to playing chess. Eventually he played so much chess as a child that he missed out on a lot of things, namely social interactions with peers. He was very bright at school--and skilled at both swimming and baseball--but chess was always a priority for him. In fact, he was absent so frequently from school because he competed
...more
Judy
Aug 12, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently,having an IQ over 180 doesn't bring you happiness. Instead, what Frank Brady describes is a life that has elements of a Greek tragedy--without the nobility. In this biography, Bobby Fischer burst on the chess scene becoming a master at 13 and a grand master at age 15. He rose like a rocket to become the American champion several years in a row, and then became world champion in 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland after beating Russian Grand Master Boris Spassky. But then the darker side of Bob ...more
Gaby
May 15, 2011 Gaby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 stra
...more
William Thomas
There's a strange story about concerning Marlon Brando and the death of Dag Drollet, Cheyenne Brando's boyfriend, at the hands of Marlon Brando's son, Christian. Dag was shot in the Brando home and Christian claimed the shooting to be an accident. Frenzied, Marlon and the family were searching for the shell casing but couldn't find it because the carpeting was thick and deep. So Marlon Brando and all his girth decided to strip naked and roll oround on the carpeting in order to find the casing an ...more
Stephen
Oct 02, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book in the Duke library. I have been into the Bobby Fischer story for a while now and saw a great documentary on him at the Full Frame Documentary festival last spring. So I had to read this book. It went into even more detail about his childhood, and development as a chess player, and vital life moments, such as the game of the century, the world championship game, and his fight against the united states government in Japan. A few key points here for my book revie ...more
Brendan
Dec 11, 2010 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really compelling story that makes for a nearly unputdownable biography. I really enjoyed this and recommend it highly to anyone even slightly interested in either Fischer or competitive chess.

I do have a couple of quibbles:

1.) I would have really liked to see some of the big games included as an appendix. I mean, yes, you can look them up, but when Brady writes about a turning point in a game, it's frustrating not to be able to just flip to the end and see exactly what he means. I can see not
...more
Steven
This is one of the better biographies that I have read. In the first half of the book, I felt that the author had created the aura of the developing Bobby Fischer. I would like to have seen more about some of the years in Fischer's life prior to his attaining the championship, and the events involving the championship and post championship. Perhaps my wanting more reflects the excellence of this biography. The second half of the book did an above average job of illustrating the life of the post ...more
Jeff
May 13, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1972, Fischer and Spaasky squared off for the World Championship of Chess in Reykjavík, Iceland. Fischer won gloriously. His life was never the same after that. I was really into chess back then and followed the games in the match in the newspaper as they were played. It made a big impression on me.

Brady's biography, written after Fischer's death in 2010, was a pleasure to read. After the Spaasky match, Fischer increased in "weirdness" and had a very interesting life. He hated the U.S. and st
...more
Anita
Dec 07, 2011 Anita rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
I don't know if my rating is colored by what an unlikable character Bobby Fischer is, or the fact that the author didn't give me a reason to like Bobby. I understand that biography is not to make someone likable, but it should make you care to know about them. I was interested to find out about this mysterious man that I remember was all in the news and we all cared about chess for a few months back in the 70's. Unfortunately there is not enough to know or like about him. He was a brilliant ches ...more
Marguerite
Sep 12, 2012 Marguerite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Mamas: Don't let your babies grow up to be grand masters. In this riveting biography, Frank Brady tells the story of wunderkind Bobby Fischer, from his days as a prodigy to his misanthropic, hate-fueled decline and self-imposed exile. Chock full of details, including accounts of notable chess matches, this biography is still accessible to the non-player. It's a cautionary tale about greatness and ego. It does a good job of re-creating the paranoia of the Cold War. Frank Brady has a distinct poin ...more
Melissa McCauley
Jul 22, 2011 Melissa McCauley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
After 200 pages I finally admitted defeat and quit reading. I was mainly interested because of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, but quickly found myself disliking the subject. Perhaps it is because I am not old enough (I was 2 when the famous Spassky match took place), or because I am not a chess player. However, I think it is because Fischer comes across as an egotistical jerk (as I phrased it for my nephew: he was the Kanye West of chess)… and from the synopsis, it was apparent he only g ...more
Ben
Apr 17, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating biography about chess? Well, yes, but the book is not so much about chess as the troubled genius that is Bobby Fischer. I knew very little about Fischer going into this book except his reclusiveness and some bad press he got following 9/11. This book paints a very complete, multifaceted, and even-handed picture of Fischer. The author portrays him warts and all, including his rabid anti-Semitism, greed, self-destructiveness, narcissism, paranoia, and his seeming desire for his frien ...more
Juan Manuel Wills
Jan 20, 2016 Juan Manuel Wills rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este párrafo introductorio del autor, que conocía de fondo al personaje, resume de gran manera la compleja vida de Fischer:

"Paradoxes abound. Bobby was secretive, yet candid; generous, yet parsimonious; naive, yet well informed; cruel, yet kind; religious, yet heretical. His games were filled with charm and beauty and significance. His outrageous pronouncements were filled with cruelty and prejudice and hate. And though for a period of decades he poured most of his energy and passion into a ques
...more
Midge Bork
So what do you tolerate in your heroes/idols? You admire the feats that elevated them to the top of their field, but how much can they deviate from your expectations? Can you admire the accomplishments of an addict? a wife beater? a murderer? Or, in the case of Robert J. Fischer a person who denied the Holocaust happened? advocated the extermination of all Jews? cheered the 9/11 attacks?

Bobby Fischer was probably the best chess grandmaster ever, yet he was a complete misanthrope. As an American
...more
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Frank Brandy is the author of numerous critically acclaimed biographies. Internationally recognised as the greatest authority on the life and career of Bobby Fischer, he is also president of New York City's Marshall Chess Club and was the founding editor of Chess Life.
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“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” 11 likes
“Perhaps the most important role for a second is analyzing adjourned positions jointly with the player. Sometimes this means all-night sessions, so that the player has a variety of tactics to employ when play is resumed the next day. Soviet players were traditionally serviced by a team of seconds, each performing an assigned task. For example, there could be an endgame specialist, an opening theoretician, a physical trainer, a “go-for,” and sometimes a psychologist.” 0 likes
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