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Pawn Sacrifice (2014)

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Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.



(screenplay), (story) | 2 more credits »
1,473 ( 291)
1 win. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Marshall
Father Bill Lombardy
Edward Zinoviev ...
Efim Geller
Iivo Nei
Aiden Lovekamp ...
Carmine Nigro
Lothar Schmid


During the height of the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers when he challenges the Soviet Empire. Written by Bleecker Street

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the Soviet Union in the greatest chess match ever played. On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual content and historical smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 September 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La jugada maestra  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$202,053 (USA) (18 September 2015)


$2,436,062 (USA) (11 December 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In some cases, when Fischer studies in his little chessboard, the board is placed with a black corner to the right. This is wrong, a very basic info is that when a serious game starts, it has to be with a white corner to the right of each player - this is distinctly defined in the rules of the game. See more »


In Game 1, the film gave the impression that Fischer lost a bishop for nothing and had to resign immediately. In reality, Fischer's pawn-grabbing with his bishop on the 29th move eventually led to his giving up the bishop for two pawns, which gave Spassky an advantage but it still took him much hard work and two sessions to win. The time limit was 40 moves in the first 2.5 hours, 56 in 3.5 hours, 72 in 4.5 hours, 88 in 5.5 hours, etc. for each player. Also, the game could be adjourned after the first 40 moves (maximum of five hours of play). Thus after 40 moves, Spassky sealed his next move and the game had to be continued the next day. Both teams spent anxious hours at night analyzing whether the game might still be saved for Fischer, and opinions were mixed. On the next day, Fischer played on till the end of the next time control and finally resigned at the end of move 56. See more »


Father Bill Lombardy: [after Bobby has demonstrated how Bill could have won his last chess match] Shit!
Bobby Fischer: I didn't know a priest could use bad language. I like this guy!
See more »


References King Kong (1933) See more »


White Rabbit
Written by Grace Slick
Performed by Jefferson Airplane
Courtesy of RCA Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing Irving Music, Inc. on behalf of Copperpenny Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Selective look at the life and times of Bobby Fischer: "Bobby has problems.... So did Mozart"
26 September 2015 | by (Cincinnati) – See all my reviews

"Pawn Sacrifice" (2015 release; 115 min.) is a fictional bio-pick about chess legend Bobby Fischer. As the movie opens, we get archive TV news footage from a bunch of different countries with the shocking news that Bobby Fischer did not show up for Game 2 of the Chess World Championship, as we see Fischer holed up in his room, refusing to come out. We then go back to "15 November '51, Brooklyn, NY", where we meet 8 yr. old Bobby, growing up with his mom. We already see his mind getting restless quickly, but also starting to astonish with his chess moves. At this point we're maybe 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: when I herd earlier this year that a movie was being made about the life and times of Bobby Fischer, and that it was directed by none other than Edward Zwick (the director of "Glory" and "Defiance", among others), I was pretty excited about it. Alas, it was not to be. What I thought would be a bio-pick on Fischer's life, turns out to be a very selective look instead. The movie's focus is clearly, and almost to the exclusion of everything else, on the 1972 World Championship against Boris Spassky. Yes, we do get a few glimpses of the younger Fischer. Fischer's mental problems do not get examined in-depth but are dealt with hastily. "Bob has problems" comments Father Lombarty, to which someone responds "So did Mozart", and end of story. Most disappointing for me was that the film essentially stops with Fischer's win in 1972. The remaining 36 years of his life, which remain clouded in mystery for a good part, are dismissed in about 2 minutes at the end of the movie. The leading acting performances, with Tobey Maguire as Bobby Fischer and Liev Schreiber as Boris Spassky, are quite good, but keep your eye out as well for up-and-coming Canadian actress Évelyne Brochu in the role of Donna, Fischer's very first girlfriend (when he already was in his 20s). If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the life and times of Bobby Fischer, I'd readily recommend the excellent 2011 documentary "Bobby Fischer Against The World".

"Pawn Sacrifice" opened this weekend on five screens for all of Greater Cincinnati. I was eager to see it. The matinée screening where I saw this at today turned out to be a private screening, as in: I literally was the only person in the theater. I can't imagine that this movie will stick around for more than a couple of weeks in the theater. I encourage you to check out "Pawn Sacrifice" for yourself, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusions.

10 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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