TELEGRAPH’S 12 FILMS FOR CHRISTMAS: NO. 7, BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD
If only Bobby Fischer, the late chess champion, had had a Harry Potter-style magic wand, he might have chosen to banish his multiple internal demons. Liz Garbus’s documentary, Bobby Fischer Against the World, charts the rise of the gawky Brooklyn-born prodigy to become a US Champion at 14, and then to take on the Russian World Champion Boris Spassky at 29.
The most mesmerising part of the film is the footage of his tense 1972 victory over Spassky in Reykjavik, an event complicated by Fischer’s initial threats of non-attendance. The world became glued to a match that reflected the battle for Cold War dominance between America and Russia. There was, however, a touching grace between the two men: Spassky at one stage applauded his opponent, prompting Fischer to describe him as a “sportsman”.
Such grace was lacking from Fischer’s own later life, as his talent was paralysed by paranoia and anti-Semitic rants (ironic, considering that both his parents were Jewish). Friends remember the best and worst of an isolated genius for whom ordinary life remained an unsolvable puzzle.