Found… a showing of Pawn Sacrifice Friday evening… out of town in Iowa City, at a chain called Marcus Theaters!

Asked my son Nate if he would drive me out of town on Saturday morning to see it with me to celebrate my BD a week ago. One never is sure about requests like that, and for the first time in EVER since he’s been a parent, he acceded to go to the movie with me, just him and myself! Leave wife and son behind, just me and him. Sounds like an NPR story.

He doesn’t care for previews all that much so we got to the theatre, on time, very small crowd for the first 10:30 a.m. showing. I was talking to the cashier first and asked him if he was going to school in Iowa City. He volunteered that he was double majoring in Sociology and Psychology. I wished him good luck in finding a job, we got our tickets and proceeded to the back of the theater where we would’t have anyone kicking us in the back of the seats. In a “crowd” of 6 people at that time of the day, older, like myself, we didn’t have the usual gaggle of idiots with their cell phones open blinding everyone else.

It starts out with Fischer playing Carmine Nigro, probably Fischer’s first teacher. We see black cars surveil this 8 year old kid because his Mom was a commie sympathizer. Fischer’s apartment was much nicer in the movie. Fischer wore a nice raincoat as he grew older, suit and tie…none of this part is really true because Fischer favored sweaters until he became “important.”

Paul Marshall, one of Fischer’s future lawyers, asks him bye the bye “are you a patriot?” As shown in the teaser trailers. He sticks throughout the movie. Little Fischer is shown giving a simul and the image morphs into Tobey Maguire’s Fischer rendition, rather slickly done.

Not much time is spent proving that Fischer is worthy of the attempt to go after the World Championship crown. In fact, a lot of movie is squeezed into an hour and 56 minutes. The music is always good, the acting is superb, the various scenes are well choreographed. Peter Sarsgaard plays Fr. William Lombardy as a vehicle to “tell” the story. Handsome, charismatic, and of course, a former excellent player himself. Problem, Lombardy was fired being Fischer’s second! He was replaced by GM Kavalek. Fr. Bill was pudgy and wore short pants (eyewitnessed this in Reykjavik). But Steven Knight’s writing added this drama as if Sarsgaard was actually the brilliant British actor Jeremy Irons. Good theater.

Spassky (Liev Schreiber) is referred to as the world champion at the 1966 Piatigorsky event in Santa Monica. When Fischer loses to Spassky he rushes out of the venue. Remember, Fischer had never beaten Spassky until 1972. People, including myself, did not understand Fischer’s DRIVE. In 1969 Spassky became the world champion, for a short time. He is brilliantly played and looks the part by Schreiber. Beautiful make up work for Schreiber who already had a leg up on this persona, even though he was rather tall. Maguire has all the warts and moles Fischer had.

Schreiber only speaks Russian in this film! When Fischer breaks through in the 6th game he is perplexed, at first, when Spassky stands and starts applauding Fischer for his exceptional win. Then the audience joins in.

Much is made of Fischer’s aversions to noise and the crowds, for good reason. I don’t think, however, that drove him “mad” just because audiences can be so uncouth. Some behaved like slobs when I was in Denver for the Fischer-Larsen match.

Fischer is later shown in a sports utility vehicle, leaving the site, analyzing on his pocket set. The picture fades to black with typescript replacing the picture and telling us about what happened afterwards, even mentioning the 1992 Match and finally some real pictures of Fischer with his shaggy beard. Some great photo stock. In fact the cinematic portion of the movie is quite excellent showing outside scenes of the Miramar Hotel back then.

Despite compression of time and story, I really enjoyed what Director Zwick produced. I was a Fischer fan when I was a kid. Zwick left most of the politics and screwing with Fischer out of the story no doubt for the good and smoothness of the story. But Fischer (Maguire) does rant about why he felt screwed by the Jews and low-lifes in NYC in his early years and it is what I have been telling people for years. It’s too bad Bobby left the scene the way he did, but he really felt, “ripped off.”

My son really enjoyed the movie and was able to follow along even though he wasn’t born until 1973!

Getting up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning was the “trauma.” Driving 120 miles round trip was the test of adventure, with my son at the wheel. Great present Nate…. DAD

Leave comments if you’ve seen it.



  1. All the reasons you gave are excellent about the movie. Pawn Sacrifice is an appropriate name as the movie as Fischer becomes the pawn in this cold war.
    Everyone knows the Russians did plot to cheat, even a couple of them admitted it years later, it was obvious, FIDE wouldn’t do a thing. And who can blame him growing up paranoid as I read the FBI was constantly surveilling his mother as she was holding Communist rallies and meetings at her house. I mean the cold war was real, if you think it was fake you should have lived through it. It was sure traumatic on some of us kids at the time.
    Shame I do not think they will sell enough of tickets to make out on the movie. I will go see it once more before it leaves.

    Fischer never got his invite to the White House that he thought was coming and always felt animosity. Ops that wasn’t in the movie but within the 2 hr time constraint they did an excellent job.

    • The White House has too much going on to remember people. Bush promised some poor black lady in New Orleans, after Katrina, to do something for her. I heard it on NPR. They (NPR) came back a year later and that elderly woman had gotten NO action from the Bush crowd.
      I did live through the Cold War, and the spy named Abel for which a movie starring Tom Hanks is about to come out, SPIES ON THE BRIDGE or something like that.
      I hope they will sell more tickets in the big cities. This was a piece of culture, well done.

      • I love my Fischer T Shirt from Bob, In fact I have two. It was well done. I enjoyed the movie so much I will see it for the second time before leaving the theater, and yes I will get the blu-ray when it comes out!!!!!

  2. I worn my Bobby Fischer t-shirt that Bob Long made many years ago to watch the movie in Vancouver WA. Only had to have my wife drive to the Vancouver Mall. She even went to the showing. We were the only people there for a 2:50 pm showing. Nice report BOB!

  3. Thanks Russ. BLEEKER ST put a lot of effort and $$$ into this movie. Chess players are often about the game and wouldn’t necessarily cross state lines to go to another’s tournament. All they talk about is how much everything costs as if the rest of us are too stupid to realize this. In my early years my wife and I went to tournaments and stayed in motels that were so cheap they didn’t even have roaches! Flimsy, useless curtains. I think we paid $7 for one night in one. Now I realized how much she truly did love me!

  4. Saw the movie. Your review was spot on. I really enjoyed the movie and thought there was plenty there to keep the interest of the non-chess player. Well done. The use of old new reels and intermixing of historic references reminded me of Forest Gump minus the comedy. Loved Spassky’s shades.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s