BOBBY FISCHER'S MATCH against the world chess champion Boris Spassky in 1972 still exerts a powerful fascination to this day. The American had never before beaten the Russian, and was two games down in the Reykjavik tournament. The first game Fischer lost after a monumental blunder; the second game he forfeited when he refused to turn up. How could he gain the initiative? As the authors of this book remind us, Bobby used every weapon in his armoury to secure the title, which the Soviets had held since the Second World War. His outlandish demands before and during the match (for more money, for a different chair, for smaller squares on the board, for bodyguards, for no cameras, for no audience) exasperated chess officials and taxed the patience of his Russian adversary. His very unpredictability in the opening two games further unnerved Spassky and sent him into a tailspin.
For a book devoted to chess, this one gives remarkably few details of the moves. Instead, the authors choose to focus on the human drama. Fischer played chess from the age of six and 'just got good' at eleven. By fourteen, he was the US champion, and a year later