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This is the enjoyable background story behind the immortal Fischer-Spassky chess match of 1972, the one that held the world spellbound and caused chess to become fashionable. No chess knowledge is necessary to appreciate this book. It not only sheds light on the chess world but on the relationship between the USSR and the US, a relationship that is no doubt being forgotten by the post-USSR generation. The most revealing moments in the book are the descriptions of the behind-the-scene struggles of the Soviets as it became clear that Spassky was losing the match. Much of the story is familiar to chess afficionados, but this retelling adds a bit of depth. It not only discusses Fischer's life and demise, but that of Spassky and many others in the chess world, from Steinitz to Paul Morphy to Tal, Petrosian, Smyslov, and even current #1 Garry Kasparov. This is a must-listen for chessplayers. Recommended further reading: "The Pathetic Endgame of Bobby Fischer", which I think is still available on the Atlantic Monthly web site. The only drawbacks of the book are its popular and somewhat superficial approach and the indications that its narrator and/or author are not particularly outstanding chess players. Fischer's incredible 6-0 victories over Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen are also discussed, along with various paranoid theories about how he achieved his victories, when it is clear that he was always a formidable talent and thus didn't need skullduggery to shake the chess world.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
I was somewhat reluctant to commit myself to listening to a book about chess for 12 hours. As soon as the book was finished I immediately started over. A great story about really strange people and an even more strange event.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful