Bobby Fischer Against the World

Bobby Fischer Against the World ( 2010 ) directed by Liz Garbus is surprisingly the first documentary about the American Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer who won the remarkable World Chess Championship in Reykjavik in 1972.

Fischer is an incredible figure, his brilliance and staggering dedication was evident early in his life. He won the US Chess Championship at the still unbeaten age of 15. His mother was also brilliant but neglected Fischer and had a very troubled relationship with him.

The documentary covers his early years and then focusses on the World Chess Championship of 1972 where Chess was covered in US nightly news and became a part of Cold War history. Fischer’s antics are given due billing in the documentary.

After becoming champion Fischer’s decline began. His erratic and excessive demands meant he didn’t defend the title and so lost it. From there he became increasingly unbalanced. The documentary covers his tragic decline sparsely, but given that he dropped out of the public eye this is understandable.

Fischer’s return and his bizarre games in Yugoslavia that violated the boycott on Yugoslavia during the war of the 1990s show Fischer as an aged, crazy chess player. From there his further decline until his death is shown carefully.

The documentary is not bad but it covers too much ground to be really riveting. A documentary on just the 1972 championship would be enough. Still, for anyone interested in Fischer it is worth a look.

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