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Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

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A prepubescent chess prodigy refuses to harden himself in order to become a champion like the famous but unlikable Bobby Fischer.



(book), (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Nirenberg ...
Vasek Simek ...
Tunafish Father
Tournament Director
School Teacher
Fighting Parent
Steven Randazzo ...
Man of Many Signals


Josh Waitzkin is just a typical American boy interested in baseball when one day he challenges his father at chess and wins. Showing unusual precocity at the outdoor matches at Washington Square in New York City, he quickly makes friends with a hustler named Vinnie who teaches him speed chess. Josh's parents hire a renowned chess coach, Bruce, who teaches Josh the usefulness of measured planning. Along the way Josh becomes tired of Bruce's system and chess in general and purposely throws a match, leaving the prospects of winning a national championship in serious jeopardy. Written by Rick Gregory <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Every journey begins with a single move.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 August 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

À la recherche de Bobby Fischer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$7,266,383 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Josh Waitzkin, the subject of this movie, has won the U.S. Junior Chess Championships since the movie was made. See more »


Vinnie is holding the McDonald's cup with his fingertips and thumb. In the next shot, Vinnie's hand is wrapped around most of the cup. See more »


[first lines]
Josh Waitzkin: [about Bobby Fischer] In the days before the event, the whole world wondered if he would show up. Plane after plane waited on the runway, while he napped, took walks, and ate sandwiches. Henry Kissinger called and asked him to go for his country's honor. Soon after arriving, he offended the Icelanders by calling their country inadequate because it had no bowling alleys. He complained about the TV cameras, about the lighting, about the table and chairs, and the contrast of the ...
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Frère Jacques
Written by Traditional
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User Reviews

Brilliant intelligently sensitive drama
6 August 2004 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

Let me start by saying I am not a person who goes for sentimental, "heart on your sleeve" type big dramas that seem to be the idol of most professional critics. In fact, to put it bluntly I totally loathe them. (I prefer movies that at least try to have a cohesive plot line with a reasonably accessible story idea and some decent tight pacing; ie: something that's both informative and fun. This is my interpretation of the classic idea of "a good story, well told".)

With that in mind, I wish to state that this movie (film, whatever) really does work, at all levels. It's a good intelligent story (apparently based on fact} about a very bright, very young kid who is discovered to be naturally good at chess and enters the serious national tournaments. During which time, there are raised issues of the concept of the winning ethos; and keeping (or losing) your humanity in the process.

This cast is magnificent here. The central leads are played by Joe Mantegna and Max Pomerance as the father and son respectively. Both give very well-balanced performances. Sensitive, without being sappy. Max in particular is very good, especially in the dramatic climax of the film; which he handles with total dignity. It could have been so over the top and patronizing in lesser hands, but this time it isn't.

They are ably supported by Laurence Fishburne and Ben Kingsley as two different types of coaches, from "opposite side of the tracks" (sorry for that old cliché). It may seem formulaic, but in this case the dramatic contrasts works surprisingly well, and both come over as intelligent representatives of their particular points of view. And there are also great character moments by David Paymer {QUIZ SHOW, MR Saturday NIGHT, etc} and Hal Scardino {THE Indian IN THE CUPBOARD} as well.

Over all, I would highly commend this film as the type of story that manages to tread the fine line between intelligent ideas and an entertaining story. I recommend it to everyone. Give it half a chance and it can work for you. It really is a great example of intelligently entertaining!

35 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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