I’m Your Opponent, Not The Clock


Movie Post Season Round 7

Queen of Katwe Inspires Searching For Bobby Fischer

There’s a chess set sitting in my living room. It’s a heavy marble board and the pieces are plastic made to look like stone. It’s on a leather four sided gaming table that my father took from his older brother during a downsizing. The table is a beautiful piece of furniture, and it’s coming into our house inspired the purchase of the chess set.

I think maybe two games of chess have been played on that table.

Anytime I watch anything about chess, I want to learn the game, but I also don’t really have anyone to play with so, that makes it hard. Anyway, this is what was going through my mind as I watched Searching For Bobby Fischer, the story of a seven year old chess prodigy, his parents and teachers and the quest to let a kid be kid in the face of extraordinary talent.

I chose it to pair with Queen of Katwe even though, outside of chess playing, Josh Waitzkin and Phiona have little else in common, there’s a thread here of life outside of the game and choices that have to be made. It’s also a good pair because of the extraordinary performances put on film. Laurence Fishburne, Ben Kingsley and Joe Montegna are the adults who shape Josh’s world and manage to create a balance. Fishburn plays the street chess player who teaches Josh the thrill of competition, Kingsley the classical teacher who brings rigor and form and Montegna the father, a sports writer who understand the need to be the best.

Josh and Phiona both push to become the best they can be at Chess, though the struggles of a poor girl in Africa are a good deal different than those of a upper middle class kid from Manhattan, but I really enjoyed the way the three male role models approached chess and life for Josh. Also, this is an astonishingly restrained performance from Kingsley, who I always associate with scenery chewing (usually the good kind).

Overall, I’m glad I watched this movie, even though I probably never will again

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