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Prayers for Bobby

James Martin

James Martin, growing up in halcyon Sydney in the 1970's, had never heard the name 'Bobby Fischer'. And yet, when this most controversial, both fêted and maligned, and much loved American won the World Chess Championship against incumbent Boris Spassky of Russia, in Reykyavik, Iceland in 1972, he was, having singlehandedly done what neither Napoleon or Hitler could do-annex Moscow-in the words of one observer, in world-wide fame second only to Jesus Christ. Fischer, an intensely private man, "had a problem". In apparent solution to that 'problem', Fischer - disappeared...

Due to a problematic relationship with his own father, James Martin, having decided in 1980 to 'learn how to play chess,' encountered a man with integrity, super-brilliance, wittiness, greatness, and, let's face it, magnificent good looks, and, first through Fischer's two books on chess, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess and My 60 Memorable Games, and subsequent submersion in the gargantuan lore concerning him - fell in love!

With Prayers for Bobby, James presents a series of ninety sonnets through which a veritable horde of admirers, or 'pray-ers', offer their solidarity in devotion to "the greatest of them all" - all the time asking: "Will the real Bobby Fischer please stand up?"

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James Martin was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1966. From an early age, he immersed himself in English literature, acquiring a feel for language, yet without really having any more than superficial notion of meaning or subtext. Receiving nil guidance from his parental father, and little more from his mother, James had a more or less happy youth, but, as the family made a move from halcyon Sydney to conservative Melbourne in 1980, an outbreak of skin problems withdrew him from the society of peers, and he decided to immerse himself in the all-too voluminous beast that is Chess lore. Falling into love and obsession with Bobby Fischer, ‘Caïssa's favourite son,' contributed in part to psychological disturbance that was to revolve its doors in his university years and up to the present day. Yet Martin has continued to pursue his ambition to write, and the interested reader is referred to his other book of verse, again a tribute to Fischer, namely Sixty Sexy Sonnets [Austin Macauley, 2019].