Marc's Reviews > Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness

Endgame by Frank Brady
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M 50x66
's review
Feb 12, 2011

really liked it
Read in February, 2011

Great overview of Fischer's life and controversies. I personally would've liked more information about the games--this was quite sparse in Brady's book--but I understand that many would be turned off or bored by such information. My biggest struggle with Endgame was its inability to resolve whether Fischer was mentally ill or evil; given his rantings, the way he treated others, and his belief system, those are essentially the only two options. Brady is clearly a friend and apologist so he doesn't want to go either way, which leaves the question hanging. There are several instances where Brady insists Fischer WASN"T mentally ill, even quoting a psychiatrist (who was also a friend of Fischer's) as saying this from a professional point of view; this is balanced by others who knew Bobby and said he appeared schizophrenic or "crazy," at least to a lay-person. Interestingly, Brady argues that Fischer wasn't psychotic because he didn't suffer from hallucinations or delusions, while it is then beyond obvious that he did experience persecutory delusions (though they do not appear to have been bizarre). In this manner, Brady paints a portrait of someone who likely suffered from paranoid schizophrenia that was never identified, diagnosed or treated, though this is nothing more than conjecture based solely on Brady's work. Brady's struggle is in trying to explain how someone could say such horrendous things, hold such despicable and bizarre beliefs, and treat people in such a cruel and antisocial manner without being either mentally ill or evil; in the end, he is unable to satisfactorily resolve this conundrum. Fischer's chess brilliance notwithstanding, his actions were inexcusable; it was likely this same dynamic--overlooking evil because of genius--that prevented people from addressing Fischer's unacceptable behaviors adequately while he was alive.
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Ally I found the exact same thing. I expected the book to provide more of an analysis of Fischer's mental state and the what and why of the horrible things he did and said. I also found the book to be far too apologist. But it does make you think about how often we're willing to accept that genius means you don't have to 'follow the rules' and how often that translates to not needing to make the effort it takes to be a decent human being. The amount of people willing to forgive so much, was staggering to me, and it's really no wonder Fischer was so incensed when he DIDN'T get his own way. Like a child needing structure, it messed with his own world view, which was built on the constant awe and fawning from an early age. It's one of those books that's going to stick with me for a while, I think.


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