John Donaldson - Bobby Fischer and his world

John Donaldson - Bobby Fischer and his world - frontcover
John Donaldson - Bobby Fischer and his world - frontcover

Our member and temporary deputy chairman John Donaldson has published his third book on Bobby Fischer:

Bobby Fischer and his world - The man, the player, the riddle, and the colorful characters who surrounded him.

Includes 99 annotated games
Los Angeles: Siles Press, © 2020; xx + 664 pp.
ISBN 9781890085193

This real magnum opus is John Donaldson’s third book on Fischer after his A Legend on the road: Bobby Fischer’s 1964 simul tour (1994) and, with co-author Eric Tangborn, The unknown Bobby Fischer (1999). So it is – in terms of soccer – also his hattrick on the 11th world champion.

Already at first glance we see that the work is the result of his chess life long preoccupation with all aspects of Fischer’s chess life. At the same time, browsing the almost 700 pages is enough to understand that the author documents more or less ‘en passant’ important parts of the American chess history of the second part of the 20th century. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future the register of his book (pp. 633-644) will be also used by historians as a kind of encyclopedic reference work. If ever the ‘definitive’ biography of Bobby Fischer will be written, here the biographer finds an essential part of its foundation.

[Update 2020-12-30] John has sent us following reactions in response to some of our remarks regarding his book:

“Like many players of my generation I started playing as a result of the Fischer - Spassky World Championship match. While I never saw Fischer play or had the opportunity to meet him many of my friends did. Their stories of Bobby, often at odds with accounts of him in the main stream media, piqued my interest. Of course I was always interested in his games and what he wrote. My fascination with Bobby only increased after I wrote two small books on him roughly twenty years ago (A Legend on the Road and The Unknown Bobby Fischer).

When I started work on the book a dozen years ago I reread Frank Brady's two quite different editions of Profile of a Prodigy plus Endgame and over the years came back to them again and again. These are the canons for anyone interested in Fischer's life and were my starting point. I didn't want to go over ground that had already been well-covered, but instead wished to address questions Brady was unable to answer or at least shed new light on them. I was of course looking for new material as well".

And with respect to the most helpful sources he came across in his research for the book, he writes:

"I used many sources but here are a few of the most important ones besides the three previously mentioned books by Brady. Chess Life and Chess Review, both available at, were especially helpful for Bobby's early years and the latter has his column from 1963-64.

Edward Winter's Chess Notes - was an invaluable resource as was The latter has hundreds of articles about Fischer that appeared in newspapers throughout his life.

The works of David DeLucia and his daughter Allesandra (Bobby Fischer Uncensored and Bobby Fischer- Triumph and Despair) contain much information that can be found nowhere else and the Delucia's are to be commended for sharing their treasures.

Three of the brick and mortar institutions that were especially useful were the John G. White Collection of the Cleveland Public Library, the Lily Library at Indiana University which houses the papers of John Collins and the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis. The latter has many unique Fischer items and is constantly adding to its collection. Many people who knew Bobby well were generous in sharing their memories with me, particularly Frank Brady, William Lombardy and Bernard Zuckerman”.

So far John Donaldson. Asked for an excerpt of his book that may interest our members, he allowed us to publish on our website the paragraph on the question “Who was Bobby’s second?” (pp. 470-472), which will follow below.

Bob van de Velde

(click to enlarge images)

Pages 470-472 as PDF file:


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