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Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine Paperback – March 1, 2005
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“Readers will savor a marvelous portrait of East against West, with perceived societal superiority as the real prize.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“[An] intriguing look at the world of competitive chess, circa 1972.... Good reading, especially for chess buffs.” (Booklist)
“[A] praiseworthy, terrific book… marvelous.” (Chess Life)
“Bobby Fischer Goes to War tells the story in fine, brisk style…conveying the richness of the world beyond the chessboard.” (Time magazine)
“[Edmonds and Eidinow] show themselves once again to be grandmasters of nonfiction narrative.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“The book will be one of the major sources of history for new generations of chess players.” (Boston Globe)
“David Edmonds and John Eidinow have penned a delightful book about the politics of that legendary match.” (Washington Times)
A superbly researched reminder of a 20th century culture clash.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“A fascinating story well told.” (Nashville Tennessean)
“Engagingly written... a real page-turner!” (Library Journal)
About the Author
David Edmonds is an award-winning journalists with the BBC. He's the bestselling authors of Bobby Fischer Goes to War and Wittgenstein’s Poker.
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The book is an excellently detailed description of the match and the events that led up to it. The first few chapters of the book form a biographical background of the two opponents. Bobby Fischer grew up in the United States, mainly in New York City, and was a chess prodigy from a young age including winning many titles while still a teenager. Boris Spassky grew up in the Soviet Union. In the post-war world, the Soviet government saw chess as an important playing field to prove the superiority of communism over capitalism. Spassky, like many other Soviet chess players, would receive government support to enhance their chess skills.
For the quarter of a century before 1972, the World Chess Championship was dominated by the Soviet Union often featuring a match only between players from the Soviet Union. Because of this, and the fact that chess was not very popular in the United States, these championship matches attracted little interest in the West. This changed as Fischer fought through the tournaments and won the right to challenge Spassky to the title of World Chess Champion.
Fischer had a reputation for bizarre and stubborn behavior and his approach to the championship match was no exception. While Spassky wanted to compete out of the love of chess, Fischer had numerous demands. The book goes into detail about the peculiarities that went into the planning. Some doubted that the match would even be held at all. It seemed that Fischer was most interested in the large prize money, but wanted more. Eventually, a multimillionaire British businessman and chess fan donated a large sum to increase the prize to help entice Fischer to play. Fischer ended up showing up, in Reykjavik, Iceland for the match, late. Many breathed a sigh of relief when he finally showed up.
But the drama would not end there. Fischer demanded that everything be set up according to how he saw fit. This went everywhere from the size of the squares on the chessboard, the type of chair he sat in, and the type of lighting to be used. Many people were frustrated over these numerous objections from Fischer, but for the most part they acquiesced. Game one went by with Fischer blundering causing him to lose. He ended up forfeiting the second game over objections that the match was being televised and claimed that the sound of the cameras disrupted his concentration. More frustration followed.
Eventually the match continued with some more exciting games and some mundane ones until Fischer had won after the twenty-first game following Spassky's resignation.
Following the championship, Spassky returned to the Soviet Union and continued to play chess, but eventually remarried and moved to France. Fischer became a recluse after the celebrations following his triumphant return to the United States. He stopped playing chess professionally and refused to defend his title in 1975 against challenger Anatoly Karpov. The organizers had apparently run out of patience in dealing with Fischer's antics.
The last chapter of this saga would come in 1992 when Fischer and Spassky agreed to a rematch in Yugoslavia. It was the last time Fischer publicly played chess. He became a refugee after the U.S. government issued an arrest warrant for him because the chess match, with the large monetary prize, violated sanctions on Yugoslavia at the time.
This is an excellent book detailing the behind-the-scenes actions of the 1972 World Chess Championship. One of the most impressive aspects was the Soviet side of the drama which features many people both working closely with Spassky and others in the Soviet government. This is not a traditional piece of chess literature and there is not much description about the games themselves. I would recommend this book to those interested in chess history.
I knew a certain amount about Bobby Fischer before reading this book, but little about Boris Spassky, the World Champion Fischer defeated. As the subtitle suggests, this book is particularly informative on the subject of the Soviet chess program of that era, and how that program did and didn't cope with the personalities of both players. It also chronicles a number of Fischer's demands, escapades, and eccentricities. I would have liked the authors to address more directly (as the title promises) the question of to what extent Fischer was intentionally waging psychological warfare -- which, in effect, he did quite successfully.
There are a few odd discontinuities, contradictions of sorts between earlier and later chapters, as well as redundancies, both of which may be the result of some problems with the authors' collaborative process.
infinite war game will not be surpassed for many years to come. The authors of this engaging book will take you for an insightful "Backdoor" tour of Bobby`s life both over the board and off.
It becomes evident early on that Bobby Fischer was not only forced to fight a "Cold War" battle for his country, under tremendous pressure, but also a war of his own within the confines of his Psyche. The book constructs the image of a man who, through no choice of his own, fights a high pressure battle against the Great Soviet Chess Machine as an American Patriotic icon while battling another war within his own ever-twisting mind. Thus two wars were fought simultaneously in that cold Icelandic summer; one in the eyes of the expectant world and one behind the eyes of the unexpected, eccentric Bobby Fischer.
Boris Spassky, World Chess Champion, finds himself a victim of psychic murder as Bobby takes the fight to the unsuspecting Soviet Champion enveloping him, not only into ultra-complicated chess variations, but also into a "War of the Wills." I found the book hard to put down and expertly written.