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NM Bruce Pandolfini

Bruce Pandolfini
Photo: Vlopresto/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Full name
Bruce Pandolfini
Sep 17, 1947 (age 76)‎
Place of birth
Lakewood, New Jersey
United States


National Master Bruce Pandolfini is a chess author, columnist, and teacher. His books and columns helped make him one of the most notable popularizers of American chess in the last third of the 20th century, and he remains a columnist and consultant on chess projects to this day. Pandolfini played a key advisory role on the hugely popular “Queen’s Gambit” TV miniseries.

Playing Career

Pandolfini’s career as an active competitive player was brief but strong. Born in 1947, he was 13 when he started playing games at Washington Square in New York. While few of his game scores survive, he reached a 2200 USCF rating to become a national master. He would go on to transfer his chess skills, in combination with a keen ability to communicate both in writing and in person, into a career as a teacher, author, and popularizer of chess.

Teaching And Writing Career

In 1972, Pandolfini joined the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) coverage of the world championship match between GMs Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. It would not be Pandolfini's last world championship; he also covered the New York games in the 1990 match between GMs Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.

Pandolfini is a longtime chess teacher in New York, often taking scholastic clients. His most successful student is GM Fabiano Caruana, who learned very early in his development from Pandolfini, around the year 2000. Another notable Pandolfini student is IM Josh Waitzkin, as written about by Waitzkin’s father Fred in “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” later developed into the popular movie.

As an author, Pandolfini has written more than 30 books, mostly written in the 1980s and '90s, and eight of which are listed on the Shop. Notable instructional volumes include “Principles of the New Chess” (1986), “Pandolfini’s Chess Complete” (1992), and “Pandolfini’s Ultimate Guide to Chess” (2003). The first of those three uses the (composed) game below to illustrate key strategic and tactical concepts.

Pandolfini is also a longtime columnist for the magazine “Chess Life.” The column is “Solitaire Chess,” where readers are asked to predict moves from a real game; the more accurate the predictions, the higher the final score at the end of the column. As of February 2021, it is still an active column. And Other Media

Pandolfini wrote for during 2013-15, mainly lessons for and a mailbag column where he answered user questions. His other articles also invited member interaction, with Pandolfini himself active in the comments, responding to others in his usual affable style.

Pandolfini has also been a chess consultant for film and television, most notably “Searching for Bobby Fischer” in 1993 and “The Queen’s Gambit” in 2020. He was portrayed by Ben Kingsley in the former, in addition to making a cameo appearance as an observer at Washington Square. Pandolfini also made a cameo appearance in "The Queen’s Gambit." 

Pandolfini wrote about his involvement in that latter novel and series in the November 2020 issue of "Chess Life," writing that a consulting agreement with Tevis was about to fall through when Pandolfini suggested the title. Tevis and Pandolfini continued to meet several times, but Pandolfini later observed: “Except for a few trivial changes [between the published novel and original manuscript], I couldn’t find a single one of my major suggestions. Walter had given me a nice credit in his acknowledgments. Yet the only thing I really did for the book was to come up with the final title.”

He has done much more than that for chess as a whole. Without Bruce Pandolfini, chess would not be as popular as it is today, especially in the United States.

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