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The Best Chess Films of All Time


 A crowd of people watching chess movies in a cinema

Chess, the timeless game of strategy and intellect, has long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers. Over the years, we've witnessed a variety of chess-themed movies that have captured the essence of the game while weaving compelling stories. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best chess films of all time that have left an indelible mark on both the world of cinema and the world of chess. Elephant in the room! We are not counting Netflix's The Queen's Gambit as a movie, otherwise, easy winner?


Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)


"Searching for Bobby Fischer" is a classic chess film based on the life of chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin. The movie beautifully explores the challenges and pressures faced by young chess players, and how the pursuit of excellence in the game can sometimes overshadow the simple joys of life. The film is a heart-warming tale of the balance between competitiveness and sportsmanship.


The Queen of Katwe (2016)


Set against the backdrop of Uganda, "The Queen of Katwe" is a heart-warming story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from a poor background who rises to become a chess champion. The film not only showcases the power of chess as a tool for empowerment but also touches upon the importance of resilience and determination in the face of adversity.


Pawn Sacrifice (2014)


Another look at the great Bobby Fischer, this time starring Tobey Maguire, "Pawn Sacrifice" delves into the life and struggles of the enigmatic chess grandmaster. The film masterfully portrays the intensity and pressure that comes with the pursuit of greatness in the chess world, making it a must-watch for both chess enthusiasts and film buffs.


The Luzhin Defence (2000)


Based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov, "The Luzhin Defence" is a beautifully shot film that explores the complex mind of Alexander Luzhin, a troubled chess prodigy. The movie combines a love story with the drama of high-stakes chess, showing how the game can be both an escape and a burden.


The Seventh Seal (1957)


Ingmar Bergman's iconic film "The Seventh Seal" uses chess as a metaphor for the eternal struggle between life and death. In this visually striking masterpiece, a medieval knight challenges Death to a game of chess as he grapples with existential questions. The film is a profound exploration of the human condition, while not always strictly about chess, it's worth a mention for the more high brow reader.


Computer Chess (2013)


"Computer Chess" takes a unique approach to the chess world, exploring the early days of computer chess programming in the 1980s. The film provides a quirky and thought-provoking look at the intersection of man and machine in the world of chess.


The Dark Horse (2014)



This New Zealand film is based on the life of Genesis Potini, a bipolar man who found solace and purpose in teaching chess to underprivileged children. "The Dark Horse" is an inspiring story of how chess can be a tool for personal transformation and a means of nurturing young minds.


Magnus (2016)


"Magnus" is a captivating documentary that provides an intimate look at the life and rise of Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess prodigy who became a World Chess Champion. The film offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Carlsen's journey and the challenges he faced in the world of professional chess.


Closing Gambit" (2018)



"Closing Gambit" is a documentary that delves into the 1978 World Chess Championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi. This historic battle took place during the height of the Cold War and provides a fascinating look at the intersection of politics and chess. The film explores the intense rivalry between the two grandmasters and the unique circumstances surrounding the match.


Chess has the unique ability to captivate and challenge our intellect while providing a rich tapestry for storytelling in cinema. The best chess films of all time, as highlighted in this article, not only showcase the game's complexities but also its profound impact on the lives of those who play it. Whether it's tales of prodigies, personal redemption, or the philosophical struggles of existence, these movies have successfully captured the essence of chess on the silver screen, making them timeless classics for both chess enthusiasts and movie buffs alike.


Maybe we should stick a screening on at the Commodore cinema in Ryde....


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