A mediocre high school chess player discovers his perfectly ordinary father is a former grandmaster in this standard-issue father-son relationship story.
Daniel Pratzer has always been a jack-of-all-trades, master of none when it comes to athletics. “I had worked hard to become a decent baseball player…an acceptable soccer player…but I had never been great at any of them.” When he takes up chess as a way to make friends at his New Jersey private school, he is informed by his teammates that his accountant father, Morris W. Pratzer, used to be an internationally known chess champion. They urge Daniel to convince Morris to take part in a high-stakes New York City tournament along with them and their fathers. Stung by the fact that Morris never revealed his “checkered” past, Daniel angrily confronts him only to learn that his dad quit the game because the competition had released his incendiary temper and nearly cost him his life. But Morris decides to play the tournament anyway, and his famous rage re-emerges when he faces an old rival. In the predictable end, father and son learn valuable lessons about teamwork, honor and acceptance. Check. Checkmate.
The paint-by-numbers plot and unimaginative dialogue are unlikely to encourage anyone but the most die-hard chess aficionado to finish this rote problem novel. (Fiction. 11-15)