“Your father doesn’t have any enemies. He’s an accountant.” Daniel Pratzer’s mom couldn’t be more wrong about her mild-mannered, potbellied husband.

Mr. Pratzer’s secret past begins to unravel quite by accident. Struggling freshman Daniel has joined the chess club because . . . well, he isn’t great at sports. When two popular seniors invite him to participate in a father-son chess tournament, he laughs. After all, he’s just a beginner, and his father doesn’t even play. But the seniors have done some research: Morris W. Pratzer was ranked a grandmaster of chess.

Mr. Pratzer reluctantly agrees to attend the tournament, but as the weekend unfolds, Daniel starts to understand the complex reasons why his father left the game: Competitive chess almost killed him, and he has an enemy who understands the depth of his weaknesses.

Grandmaster is a page-turning read, full of authentic details that offer a fascinating glimpse into tournament chess. It’s also a compassionate look at the choices we make, and how difficult situations bring families closer in unexpected ways.


Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is The Great Trouble.

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