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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the second half of the movie where Josh's father brings him back to the park to play with Vinnie, real-life Josh Waitzkin and Vinnie (both much older than the actors playing them) are visible in the background. The real Waitzkin is sitting across from Joe Mantegna and next to Max Pomeranc. See more »
None of the chess clocks are really running when they are shown, the little red second indicator never moves on any of them. See more »
[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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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 »
All Things Considered
Written by Don Voegeli
Performed by Don Voegeli See more »
This is another film which I own on video and don't mind watching shamelessly again and again.
One very brief shot has always taken my breath away and will probably always do so as long as I breathe. It is supposedly in Chicago. It must be on the hallowed grounds of the University of Chicago. It occurs just after the first day of the critical national tournament. Dozens of children have scrimmaged over dozens of chessboards in a big room. This is a view from the balcony of the room-- a splendid Gothic great hall-- now deserted, but with many chessboards on many tables, all reset in serene meticulousness (presumably by adult minions) for the following day's climactic event. This one instant encapsulates-- as though it were preparations for a royal banquet-- the glory and majesty of what is taking place. It may not be heeded by the world at large-- but, thank God, it is at least still recognized by parties who have enough clout (and taste) to have custody over great Gothic halls: and what more should one wish for?
This film grapples with a very real (if all-too-rare) dilemma: how hard should a parent or other mentor push a child in the service of a discipline which is noble in the abstract? The ostensible subject here is chess, but it stands in for any game worth the candle.
As one critic observed, you can't take your eyes off of young Max Pomeranc anytime he is in view, and I wouldn't wish anyone to do so. But also watch his father. The brunt of this dilemma falls upon him. Make your own decision somewhere on the continuum of decisions facing him. And perhaps this insightful film will help you inform it.
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