Item description for Hooked On Chess: A Memoir by Bill Hook...
The story of Bill Hook's life with his many passions: chess, painting, traveling, photography and blackjack.
Instead of being sent off to World War II in 1943, Bill Hook ended up in hospital for 15 months with tuberculosis. While hacking coughs echoed down the corridors the 18-year-old patient learned to play chess, a discovery that would have a defining impact on his life.
Upon his release, the novice headed directly for New York's legendary chess club, Fisher's on 42nd Street. He was to spend much of his next 25 years at 'The Flea House', where a motley crowd of amateurs, hustlers and celebrities such as Marcel Duchamp, Stanley Kubrick and New York Times music critic Harold Schonberg mingled.
With a keen eye for detail Bill Hook portrays lesser gods and famous champions, including a young Bobby Fischer, whom he beat in their first four blitz encounters.
After he had built a second home on the idyllic Cooper Island in the early 1960s, 'Captain Hook' began to represent the British Virgin Islands at international team competitions. He has played in a record 16 Chess Olympiads, winning the gold medal on first board in 1980.
Drawing from a sheer bottomless well of memories, the author also describes his painting career and his adventures as a fervent gambler. His passion for photography is highlighted by a fine selection of his pictures.
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Studio: New In Chess
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.58" Width: 5.67" Height: 0.63" Weight: 0.66 lbs.
Release Date Dec 25, 2007
Publisher New in Chess
ISBN 9056912208 ISBN13 9789056912208
Reviews - What do customers think about Hooked On Chess: A Memoir?
A subculture of chess before the Internet Jun 7, 2008
Hooked on Chess is an entertaining book, no doubt about it, and I felt I came to know Bill Hook, The New York Academy of Chess and Checkers and those players who frequented it. Every time I watched Kubrick's "The Killing," I wondered if the scene where Sterling Hayden recruits the wrestler Kola Kwariani to divert the security guards at the racetrack was filmed in a real "chess joint." Knowing Kubrick's penchant for location shooting in the early part of his career and the way Mr. Kwariani kibitzed variations, I figured the place must be genuine, and Mr. Kwariani must be a chess player. Now I know, and I also know the sad fact that Mr. Kwariani, or Kak-Kak as he's called in the book, was killed right outside the Academy by a bunch of murderous thugs.
Frankly, I love reading books that reveal -- or should I say revel -- in the examination of subcultures by men who were an intimate part of them. Here we are treated to quick examinations of five subcultures: The Academy, Blackjack in different casinos, the Chess Olympiads in which Mr. Hook often participated, the modern art world and Bill and his wife Mimi's "adventures" in the British Virgin Islands. Unfortunately, the book is prevented from being a classic by its haphazard organization, repetition and, at times, poor syntax.
I don't know if it's because Mr. Hook is in his 80's or if it's because his blitz chess proclivities favoring tactics over strategy kept an obvious diary-like account from becoming a novelistic memoir. Whatever the reason, the book could have been that much better if organized coherently. Of course, I blame most of this on the publisher, New in Chess. Since they are located in Amsterdam, maybe they didn't recognize the dangling participles and misused words that sometimes appear. However, it's hard to believe they'd miss the off-hand organization. New in Chess should take more care in hiring good editors to turn interesting writers into great ones.