Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Klass, David.  Grandmaster.  Macmillan/Farrar Strauss  2014  226p  $16.99  ISBN 978-0-374-32771-2  ms/hs    Sports fiction  E-BN

When you think of chess, it does not bring to mind the intensity, physicality and ferocity that ice hockey and football epitomize.  But this novel makes chess into a blood sport and so exciting that even the person who doesn’t understand chess moves will become engrossed and be unable to put the book down.  Daniel is a novice when it comes to chess and is called Patzer-face, a play on his last name, Pratzer, and a term that means pushover in chess.  When the seniors on the Loon Lake Academy chess team invite Daniel to a chess tournament in New York City, he is skeptical, especially when they tell him it is a father/son tournament and only three students can bring their fathers along.  Family secrets unravel, revealing that Daniel’s father was a teenage Grandmaster but won’t speak of it. Bullies are found among the males of all ages, and father/son relationships are not always smooth in this novel of chess moves that mirror life moves.   As the Loon Lake Academy Mind Cripplers let a mother/daughter team enter the Mindcrusher realm for some late night karaoke, an old rivalry from years ago threatens to crush Daniel’s father.  Intricately entwined are plenty of fast-paced action, the tantalizing revelation of the Grandmaster’s last tournament from which he left as a broken person, the building of self-confidence, a budding romance, and better understanding between fathers and sons.                

Summary: Daniel, a beginner at chess, is invited to a father/son chess tournament.  Unexpected family secrets surface as Daniel learns of his father’s chess prowess.  The intensity of the tournament, bonding, first love, and fulfilling dreams make an exciting read. Gr. 6+

Chess-Fiction, Fathers and sons-Fiction               --Lois McNicol

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