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Fischer Goes to Cliche

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Reviews continue to multiply of the new book on the Fischer-Spassky 1972 match, "Bobby Fischer Goes to War". I wrote some comments on early British reviews at ChessBase here. Now that the book is out in the US we've been inundated with reviews and commentary, all of them rehashing the already stale hash that the book covers. The New Yorker even weighed in. Here's the NY Times review at a site that doesn't require registration. (I used to deliver that paper, the Contra Costa Times!) Then the SF Chronicle, and NY Newsday.

I didn't have my hopes too high, but it seems like fears have been confirmed. Judging from reviews, respected authors David Edmonds and John Eidinow have produced little new and, even worse, have used just about every old canard and urban legend that Horowitz and Chernev ever saw fit to confabulate.

The long-debunked bit about Morphy being found dead surrounded by women's shoes is dusted off, as is the ancient and untrue tale about a 300-page book for chess spectators with 300 blank pages and "SHUT UP" at the back. Har har. These are all funny anecdotes but there are plenty of good chess stories that also happen to be true. I don't blame them too much for repeating a good story from a book, no one has limitless sources. But it's still sad.

The book may well be useful to bring an interesting old story to a new general, audience. But chess fans and Fischer fanatics who know the story are unlikely to find much of interest. I'm still waiting for my review copy so I shouldn't be so categorical. Non-chess reviewers are likely to repeat the same "sensational" bits and make the same errors.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 7, 2004 8:55 AM.

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