‘Bobby Fischer Rediscovered’ by Andrew Soltis.
Publisher: Batsford. 287 pages, list price $24.95
One popular web site recently wrote that there were enough books on Bobby Fischer, why do we need more? Personally, I was quite excited to receive this new book on Fischer by Soltis. Obviously the “best” book on Fischer is his own book, My 60 Memorable Games, which has long been out of print and is very hard (or expensive) to find. Also the book ends with Sousse 1967, and Fischer did play a few more years after that. Recently there have been two very good books on Fischer, one by Agur, Bobby Fischer: His Approach to Chess and a Eastern European production, Russians vs Fischer.
The question I had to ask is what does this new book add to the Fischer literature?
First I did a quick examination and found that a few of the games were indeed in 60 Memorable Games which is not surprising since they were among Fischer’s best games. A quick (and hopefully accurate) check showed that 26 of the games were in Fischer’s tome (here are the games for those interested. Reference numbers refer to the game number in Fischer’s book. The duplicate games are: 2, 4, 5, 11, 13, 16, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 38, 40, 41, 45, 46, 48, 54, 56, 57, 59 and 60. Thirty two of the games selected by Soltis were played after Sousse 1967. Thus there are still quite a few games of the 60 Memorable Games era. Now on to the book itself
I must admit I have always liked Soltis’ writing style. I think he does an excellent job of giving good notes to the games; some are original while others are taken from various sources. I also feel in his game selection, he chose to give a feel of the event and the situation which makes one better appreciate Fischer’s style, skill and overall play. In my opinion the highlights of the book are Soltis’ personal comments on Fischer, and the US chess scene which are interspersed throughout the book in game introductions, conclusions and the games themselves. These comments come from various sources but add considerably to the feeling of “knowing” Bobby.
I think that Soltis has provided a worthwhile addition to the Fischer books. The book reads well, has lots of interesting tidbits, and of course has plenty of great games with enjoyable notes. One comment regarding the title that left a previous reviewer confused. I found Soltis made a perfectly interesting statement in the author’s note which is how I think he derived the title. “Thirty years later, I looked at Fischer’s games for the first time since they were played. What struck me is that they fell into two categories. Some were, in fact, overrated. But many more were underrated — if known at all. And his originality, so striking at the time, had been lost with time. It seemed to me Fischer deserved an entirely new look.” I feel that Soltis has fulfilled his goal and added a very worthwhile addition to chess literature. I strongly recommend this book.