Bobby Fischer Against the World in UK cinemas from July 15th

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Bobby Fischer Against the World in UK cinemas from July 15thLast night GM Gawain Jones went to the first UK press preview screening of the new documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World, in Soho, London. This film will be in UK cinemas from July 15th, and Gawain, who lives in London, went on behalf of ChessVibes to do a review for us. Guess which other chess grandmaster he bumped into?

The documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World (IMDB title here), directed by Liz Garbus, was first released at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. You can watch interviews with the director here and here.

The promo text about the documentary goes:

Award-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus presents a fascinating portrait of one of the most intriguing and enigmatic figures of the 20th century – World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer. Out in cinemas 15 July, Bobby Fischer Against the World traces the Grand Master from child prodigy to Cold War hero to controversial recluse. Cutting interviews with Bobby and the people who knew him with footage and news reports, Bobby Fischer Against the World is a mesmerising portrait of the rise and bizarre fall of one of the great American icons.

In 1958, 14-year old Robert James “Bobby” Fischer stunned the chess world by becoming the youngest Grand Master in history, launching a career that would make him a legend. Raised by his mother in Brooklyn, he taught himself to play chess at the age of six and started beating seasoned adult chess players at eight. Throughout the sixties, as his star rose Bobby would appear regularly on TV and tour the world resoundingly beating all. His career highlight came in 1972 when he played the Russian Grand Master and reigning champion Boris Spassky - a series that was equally tied in with the Cold War as it was with chess. After his victory Bobby became the most famous person on the planet, and his already erratic behaviour began spiralling out of control, turning this genius into an unrecognisable recluse and pariah.

Bobby Fischer Against the World in UK cinemas from July 15th

Director Liz Garbus (Emmy Award® winning Ghosts of Abu Ghraib and Academy Award® nominated Street Fight) has crafted a complex film of a complex persona, exploring issues such as whether Bobby was ever equipped to deal with the fame and the pressures of being in the public eye; how his fractious relationship with his mother may have contributed to this; and how he propelled chess to a world-wide phenomenon, boosting it to a level of popularity not seen since. Truly unique, Bobby Fischer still stands as the most famous Grand Master, a life devoured by his obsession with chess and whose death revealed nothing about what eventually destroyed him.

“Chess is like my alter ego” – Bobby Fischer



Release date: 15 July 2011 Run Time: 92mins


We asked GM Gawain Jones, who lives in London, to go and watch the show, and write a review about the film. He's currently working on that, but he already told us that he and his girlfriend had a very nice evening and... that there was someone in the audience he recognized!

In fact Magnus Carlsen also visited the press screening last night, together with his manager Espen Agdestein. (To tell you the truth: we already knew this in advance, and informed Gawain about it.) Here's a photo of Gawain and Magnus. Obvsiously Gawain took the opportunity to ask the (former) prodigy what he thought about the film.

Gawain Jones and Magnus Carlsen at the Bobby Fischer Against the World UK Press Screening

GM Gawain Jones: Your thoughts on the film? GM Magnus Carlsen: Well there wasn't much that i didn't really know before but I haven't seen any pictures of him before so that was new. GJ: So that shows a more human side of him. MC: Yeah, it was sad... GJ: Yes, and a very moving film. Do you see any similarities between you and him? MC: I started thinking and although i thought that there was a little too much emphasis that chess players go "points to his head" insane which I think these days just doesn't happen - that much but I mean it made me think and also realise even more chess was a different game back then. GJ: But chess probably kept him sane for longer... MC: It was really sad to hear him say what he was saying after the match and everything. It was even a bit funny to hear him say he was going to play more chess. GJ: And the last thing he said and he didn't play for another 20 years! MC: Yeah.

Our review of the film will appear here at ChessVibes later.

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