Pawn Sacrifice

First Hit:  Fascinating story about a complicated fascinating man.

I learned chess because of Bobby Fischer in the late 1960's early 1970's. I had heard about this young man who was lighting up the chess world and wanted to know what this game was about. Learning more about chess I immediately saw the complexity of the game and wondered about the minds of people who played this game for a living.

In this film Fischer (played by Tobey Maguire) grows up in a household he found confusing and distracting. His solace – chess. He played all the time - day and night and early on he was out in the streets playing in the public parks in Brooklyn. He then started playing multiple people/boards at one time, winning most all the time.

This film follows the story from his youth until he plays Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in Reykjavik, Iceland, then follows up with pictures and information as to what happened to the reclusive Fischer. Although the American public was supportive of the way he defeated “The Russians” in an intellectual discipline the Russians excelled in; Fischer spouted anti American and anti-semitic remarks to media through his paranoid nature which caused him to be at issue with both the government and many of the public.

As his friend and fellow chess coach Father Bill Lombardy (Peter Sarsgaard) said, Bobby went down the rabbit hole and would never come out. The mixture and use of real video/film of the time in this film was very good and added to a realistic view of this story and joy of these performances.

Maguire was really good at flipping from appearing sane and then being unstable. Schreiber was great as Spassky, his command of arrogance and humility at his loss to Fischer was perfect. Sarsgaard was really good as his friend, coach and understanding priest. Steven Knight wrote a very strong script while Edward Zwick’s directional use of old footage as well was excellent.

Overall:  I loved seeing this film because of the memories of the time, the memories it sparked within me and getting to learn something about a very driven person.