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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.

Director:

Steven Zaillian

Writers:

Fred Waitzkin (book), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Pomeranc ... Josh Waitzkin
Joe Mantegna ... Fred Waitzkin
Joan Allen ... Bonnie Waitzkin
Ben Kingsley ... Bruce Pandolfini
Laurence Fishburne ... Vinnie
Michael Nirenberg Michael Nirenberg ... Jonathan Poe
Robert Stephens ... Poe's Teacher
David Paymer ... Kalev
Hal Scardino ... Morgan
Vasek Simek Vasek Simek ... Russian Park Player
William H. Macy ... Tunafish Father
Dan Hedaya ... Tournament Director
Laura Linney ... School Teacher
Anthony Heald ... Fighting Parent
Steven Randazzo Steven Randazzo ... Man of Many Signals
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Every journey begins with a single move.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 August 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Innocent Moves See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,266,383
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mirage Enterprises See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joshua Waitzkin is depicted as the next Bobby Fischer in this movie and a genius chess prodigy. However, the portrayal is immensely exaggerated. Although he became an International Master at the age of sixteen (a title which most top players manage to attain much earlier, at the age of twelve to fourteen) he never managed to gain the top tier title of Grandmaster. Also, the peak Fide Elo Rating he reached was 2480 in 1998 at the age of twenty-two, which was then more than three hundred rating points lower than Garry Kasparov, who, at the time, topped the rankings. Last, but not least, there are currently (May 2017) 1,453 players all over the world rated higher than Joshua Waitzkin, and eighty-two in the U.S. See more »

Goofs

When Josh goes off to get a Coke, the Coke machine in Bruce's chess club can be heard off camera dispensing a can down though a chute at the bottom on the machine. When the Coke machine is shown, it is the old style where one had to pull the bottle out from the vertical dispenser and would not have made the sound of a can dropping. The next bottles in line in the row should have been heard rolling down and clinking together as glass bottles did in the older style Coke machines. See more »

Quotes

[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 ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original film ends with a title card stating that Josh still plays chess
  • along with several other activities, indicating that he has a well-rounded life. When the film was broadcast on NBC in 1996, this title card was updated: it now stated that Josh was working to become a grandmaster, and that he now considered Jack Kerouac, not Bobby Fischer, to be his primary influence.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Heart and Soul
Written by Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nice warm film.
4 April 2005 | by kennethjohnsenSee all my reviews

For chessplayers and non-chessplayers alike, this is a secret gem of a movie.

Anyone who have watched Josh Waitzkin's tutorials in the Chessmaster computer-game will probably have done some research into who he is, and probably this movie will have popped up somewhere in your search.

For all of you who have found the movie that way: Go rent or buy it.

For all the rest: Go rent or buy it.

Why?: Cause it's not really about chess at all. It's a story about a 7 year old kid, taking a very keen interest in a hobby (and being VERY, VERY good at it), and also a story of his family and teachers pressuring him.

Besides a strong cast of people like Fishburn, Kingsley and Montegna, it also has some humorous moment (like the tuna-sandwich guy (William H. Macy)).

All in all, very watchable for everyone, and one of the first movies I've felt like commenting on here.

Only drawback: The link to Fischer was unnecessary, and doesn't add anything to the movie.


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