Books: The Trouble with Genius

Sometimes, as these three compelling tales show, people are way too gifted for their own good

At a chess tournament in Tunisia in 1967, Bobby Fischer, then 24, was pitted against another American grand master, Samuel Reshevsky. At game time, Fischer was nowhere to be found, so Reshevsky sat down opposite Fischer's empty chair, made his first move, punched the game clock and waited. And waited. With five minutes left, Fischer suddenly strode onstage and, with a series of blindingly quick moves, hammered Reshevsky into defeat. Two days later, Fischer quit the tournament and abandoned competitive chess for two years. Which raises the question, Why is the gift of genius so often given to people too stupid...