*Endgame*, and the rationality of Bobby Fischer

The author is Frank Brady and the subtitle is Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall — from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness.  It is sure to make my list of the best books of 2011 and it requires no real knowledge of chess.  Here is an excerpt on the rationality of the young Fischer:

While they were waiting for the results, Bisguier asked Bobby why he's offered the draw to Shipman when he had a slight advantage and the outcome wasn't certain.  If Bobby had won that game, he would have been the tournament's clear winner, a half point ahead of Bisguier.  Bobby replied that he had more to gain than lose by the decision.  He'd assumed that Bisguier would either win or draw his own game, and if so, Bobby would have at least a tie for first place.  That meant a payday of $750 for each player, a virtual gold mine for Fischer.  Recognizing Bobby's greater need for money than the capture of a title, however prestigious, Bisguier noted: "Evidently, his mature judgment is not solely confined to the chessboard."

Much later in Fischer's life:

…Bobby and Miyoko attended a screening [in Japan] of the American film Pearl Harbor.  When the Japanese Zeroes began bombing the ships in Battleship Row and destroyed the USS Arizona, Bobby began clapping loudly.  He was the only one in the theater to do do — much to the embarrassment of the Japanese.  He said that he was shocked that no one else joined in.

There are many revelations in this book, including that Bobby turned to Catholicism in the last period of his life.


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