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Sunday, July 24, 2011

314. Bobby Fischer Against The World


    Today, Mrs W and I had to go to Sheffield to meet our son.
    I planned out a movie marathon and she said she'd quite fancy going to the first one and then spend time with him.
    Her enthusiasm wasn't exactly overwhelming when I said that she had effectively put her name down for a documentary about chess.
    So her reaction when we left Sheffield Showroom Screen 3 a couple of hours later says much about how Liz Garbus has made her film accessible to all.
    Yes, Mrs W really liked it. And I agreed. It was another Dogwoof belter.
    In fact, we both reminisced that we were part of the generation which was swept along by the world craze for chess, precipitated by Fischer and his opponent in the 1972 world championship - Boris Spassky.
    It hadn't occurred to us that our junior school chess tournament was linked to the showdown in Reykjavik but  it now appears it must have been.
    By clever use of archive news footage, Garbus shows how the match was deemed front page news across the world.
    In fact, on one news bulletin in the United States, Fischer was the lead item, ahead of Watergate.
    Fischer, of those who don't know, was possibly the greatest chess player ever. But, more than that, he was used as representative of the western world who was bidding to take the crown of a sport which had been dominated by Russians before and since.
    There was only one problem for those trying to use chess as a political pawn (geddit?) - Fischer was, shall we say, rather unstable.
    Actually, he had what would be recognised nowadays as a significant personality disorder. Then, it was considered the madness which comes with genius.
    For the sake of those like Mrs W who don't know the story I shall not go in the details of what happened in 1972, other than to say that even Henry Kissinger was called in.
    Garbus weaves footage of Fischer interviews, newsreels and current interviews with those involved in Fischer's life and the big match. There are also interesting observations from the likes of Garry Kasparov, who was king of world chess for 15 years.
    It goes into Fischer's background which explains much about his personality.
    Interestingly, it also shows Fischer in later years when his paranoia had taken even greater hold.
    In fact, the only person who doesn't get a say is Spassky. One can only wonder what he made of the whole circus.
    So, on the basis of Mrs W's resounding thumbs up, we are heartily recommending Bobby Fischer Against The World, even if you have no interest in chess.
    Rating? 8/10

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314. Bobby Fischer Against The World


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