7 Chess Movies You Do Not Want To Miss
The game of chess has been the subject of many great films!

7 Chess Movies You Do Not Want To Miss

CHESScom
CHESScom
Oct 1, 2018, 12:00 AM |
12 | Fun & Trivia

Grab your popcorn for this article! We are going to take a look at chess in the movies. Chess fans everywhere have their favorite chess movies. Here are our top seven picks. Make sure to share your favorite chess films in the comments!

  1. Searching for Bobby Fischer
  2. Magnus
  3. Brooklyn Castle
  4. Queen of Katwe
  5. Bobby Fischer Against the World
  6. The Luzhin Defense 
  7. Pawn Sacrifice

1. Searching for Bobby Fischer.

Searching For Bobby Fischer

"Searching for Bobby Fischer" inspired a scholastic chess boom in the United States. With a star-studded cast of actors including Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne, and Joan Allen, the film was destined to deliver. The movie was based on the book "Searching for Bobby Fischer" by Fred Waitzkin which detailed his son Josh Waitzkin's journey though the world of chess. Josh went on to become a strong international master and eventually left chess to pursue martial arts.

2. Magnus

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen needs no introduction to the chess world. Carlsen has been a dominating force in the world of chess before, during, and after becoming world champion. This 2016 documentary film "Magnus" was released shortly before the Carlsen vs. Karjaken world championship match. The film documents the Carlsen family with the focus on Magnus's rise to the throne. The film features footage from Magnus's childhood, his showdown with Kasparov when he was just thirteen, and the exciting environment that surrounded the Anand vs. Carlsen world championship match in Chennai where Carlsen reached the summit.

3. Brooklyn Castle

Brooklyn Castle

"Brooklyn Castle" came out in 2012 and was an instant hit with chess fans, educational professionals, and parents. The documentary film follows the successful Intermediate School 318 (I.S. 318) along with head chess teacher Elizabeth Spiegel in Brooklyn, New York over the course of a year though the ups and downs of competitive chess. I.S. 318 overcame budget cuts to become the most successful chess program in the country, winning more championships than any other schools in the country. I.S. 318 was the first middle school team to win the National High School championships! A must watch!

4. Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe

The 2012 book made into a movie "Queen of Katwe" is a  2016 film based on the life of Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl growing up in the slums of Katwe. Phiona, played by actress Madina Nalwanga, would frequent the local center where chess is taught by Robert Katende, played by actor David Oyelowo. At first her motivation is that the students would receive a free meal for attending the class, and then it was realized that Phiona has talent for chess which evolves into a love for the game. After successes in local tournaments, Phiona is challenged playing chess on an international level and learns of life outside of Katwe.

5. Bobby Fischer Against the World

Bobby Fischer

"Bobby Fischer Against the World" dives into the life and genius of Bobby Fischer. There are several interviews with personalities such as Larry Evans, Susan Polgar, Garry Kasparov, and many others that knew Fischer or were influenced by his genius. Bobby Fischer took on the entire Soviet chess empire and won! The film includes rare footage of Fischer's 1972 World Championship match against Boris Spassky where he won the ultimate chess title.

6. The Luzhin Defense

Luzhin Defense

The 2000 film "The Luzhin Defense" was a dramatic portrayal of a talented chess player named Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin played by actor John Turturro. The film is based on the book "The Defense" by author Vladimir NabokovLuzhin travels to Italy to compete in a prestigious tournament where he also meets and falls in love with Natalia Katkov played by award-winning actress Emily WatsonDuring this period, the film reflects back to the childhood of Luzhin and the family stresses that he endured. Luzhin's opponent Dottore Salvatore Turati, played by Fabio Sartoris advised by Luzhin's old chess coach Leo Valentinov, played by Stuart Wilson, that he cannot handle pressure.

This works to Turati's advantage as the game is adjourned. Once the game was adjourned, Valentinov kidnapped Luzhin and abandoned him bringing back painful memories of his childhood. The trauma lands Luzhin in a hospital due to mental exhaustion where doctors forbid him to play chess. Luzhin's stress and exhaustion drives him to leap from a window committing suicide. His fiancée Natalia finds Luzhin's notes to the adjourned game and finishes the winning moves against Turati.

7. Pawn Sacrifice

Pawn Sacrifice

This much anticipated 2014 drama "Pawn Sacrifice" is based on the story of Bobby Fischer's rise through chess all the way up to the world championship. Actor Tobey Maquire plays the role of Bobby Fischer, while Liev Scheiber plays Soviet World Champion Boris Spassky. The film explores the dark side of Fischer's paranoia. Part of the film visits Fischer's rise through chess as a young kid from Brooklyn, how he became obsessed with the game, and how he pushed to win every game he played. The mental stress Fischer put himself through leading up to winning the world championship is shown to have damaged him, and he disappears from the public into hiding.

Did we miss any of your favorites? Share your favorite chess movie in the comments!

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