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Current Movie Crush: ‘Pawn Sacrifice’

Bobby Fischer vies for the 1972 World Chess Championship, takes on ‘the Russians and the Jews’

Jonathan Zalman
May 29, 2015


Chess rocks. It always has and always will. Don’t believe me? Check out current world champion Magnus Carlsen—blindfolded and under a time control—beat three players at once. It’s beautiful.

But the poetry of a man’s chess performance can sometimes be muddled by the man himself. This is not the case with the 24-year-old Carlsen, but it was with Bobby Fischer, a maniacal anti-Semite—and the last American world chess champion—who died in Iceland in 2008. And yet, Fischer left an indelible mark on chess—both in his contribution to game theory, and the game’s competitive legacy, namely the 1972 Chess Championship in which he faced off against Boris Spassky during a Cold War détente.

The story of how Fischer earned the title is a riveting one, and is deserving of many an artistic treatment. Here’s one I’m excited for—a movie called “Pawn Sacrifice,” starring Tobey Maguire as Bobby Fischer, and Liev Schreiber as Boris Spassky. The preview was just published, and opens to a wide release in September. Check it out:

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.