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United Kingdom 2011
Directed by
Liz Garbus
91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Bobby Fischer Against The World

Bobby Fischer Against The World will probably appeal most to chess buffs and particularly those who were around in the 1970s when Bobby Fischer was up there with Muhammad Ali and Rudolf Nureyev as pop cultural pin-up boys.

Director Liz Garbus presents a detailed intimate look at Fischer’s life. Growing up in Brooklyn to a single mother Fischer was proficient in chess by the age of six. A self-taught player, he continued mastering his game to become the 1957-58 U.S. Championship

Using an excellent array of archival footage Garbus’s documentary explores both Fischer the individual and Fischer as pawn in the then- raging Cold War. The anxiety of both came to a head with the 1972 World Chess Championship which Fischer won, defeating the reigning champion, the USSR top dog, Boris Spassky, but thereafter disappearing spiralling into a vortex of paranoia, eventually dying a lonely old man in Iceland, the country which gave him refuge from the US Government who were pursuing him for having broken an embargo at the time of the Bosnian civil war of the 1990s when Fischer emerged from oblivion for the"Revenge Match of the 20th Century" against Spassy. Unfortunately for Fischer, the game was in Yugoslavia, which at the time was under strict U.S. sanction. As a result, an arrest warrant was issued for Fischer, and he became a fugitive from the law for over a decade.

Although it would have been nice to know what Fischer was doing in the lost years between 1972 and his re-emergence as a full-blown crank in the 1990s, Bobby Fischer Against The World has enough value to stand as both an portrait of the times and a sad story of the price paid for being extraordinary in this most ordinary of worlds.

 DVD Extras: The Fight For Fischer’s Estate; Chess History; Taking on The Grand Master; Kings In The Ring.

Available from: Madman




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