Daniel Pratzer is a freshman on the chess team. Being a novice, he is not respected at all; he cannot get his own team members to stop calling him “patzer-face”, which means beginner in chess terms. Later, he gets an opportunity to prove himself at a 6-person team, father-son chess tournament. Invited by Brad and Eric, who are the two co-captains of the chess team, he is not able to resist. However, there is a catch. How could his father, a poor accountant who had never played a game of chess in his life, be able to participate? Daniel stops short when he learns from the chess captains that his father, Morris W. Pratzer, was a grandmaster in his teens with a rating well over 2500. He returns home and questions his dad if this is true, seething with anger. The reply is yes; his father goes on to describe how it made him concentrate to dangerous levels, dislike the person he was becoming, and how he had not touched a single piece in 29 years and yearned to forget everything about his history with the game. Although his father tells him this, he does not provide the true reason of why he had to quit. Only later does Daniel understand that his father’s sudden dislike for chess goes much deeper than the false answers he provides. Soon, the tournament takes place and Mr. Pratzer returns to face down an old opponent and the same dark emotions that the game demands. When the tournament takes place, Daniel learns much more about the chess genius his father possesses, and even surprising truths about himself.
This book was a thrilling read with specific descriptions and a detailed plot. I enjoyed the personalities of the characters in this book. The suspense adds on to it and makes it more entertaining. Although there is not much humor in this novel, the factor does not take away from the total value of this read. The situations are intense and complex, and the author’s style of writing is thorough and well developed. This might be due to the author’s prior knowledge and experiences. The sentences are fluent and easy to understand, and lastly, it is written well with no detectable errors. Overall, this entertaining read accomplishes the feat of blending fact with fiction, and I would recommend this book to someone else.
This book is filled with memorable events, one of which I will describe. The matches that Daniel and his father play stand out with more than only accurate descriptions, but pure experience of the routines and moves that occur in a chess tournament. The perfect details make me remember these matches of the tournament, for they form a mental image of the games in my mind.
Review by Shivram, grade 6, Gayton Library