Genius is no excuse: Bobby Fischer Goes to War, by David Edmonds

bobby-fischer-exhumedBobby Fischer Goes to War is a compelling account of the 1972 world chess championship, accessible to non-chess players and of interest to students of the Cold War: the account of this match is well contextualised in the politics and culture of the time and in the biographies of the two protagonists.

At the centre of the account, as repulsive as ever, is the American Bobby Fischer the challenger, one of the greatest chess players who ever lived and a venial, spoilt, perpetually petulant overgrown adolescent, unforgivably indulged by the championship organisers in his whims and tantrums. The Russian, Boris Spassky, the reigning champion, by contrast is a more sympathetic figure, contributing to his own ultimate undoing by acquiescing too easily with the pusillanimous and cowardly behaviour of the organisers.borisspassky

Those who do not appreciate chess may regard this story as “much ado about nothing”. Those who love the game will enjoy the account and lament how an event that could have been a marvel of sportsmanship, courage and analytical thinking degenerated into such a farce.

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