Produced by HBO, this documentary follows Bobby Fischer's brilliant ascent to the World Chess Championship in 1972 and his sad descent into lunacy thereafter, which ended only with his death in 2008. Director Liz Garbus exposes Fischer's troubled childhood, which fueled his single-minded study of the game and his meteoric rise to the U.S. championship at age 14. But the core of the movie is Fischer's historic match against Soviet champion Boris Spassky, a contest that became an international sensation because of its Cold War overtones and a genuine nail-biter because of Fischer's erratic behavior before and during the event. As author David Shenk notes in one of the talking-head interviews, "A good chess player is paranoid on the board, but then if you take that paranoia to real life, it doesn't play so well." In Fischer's case that's an understatement: his life after the championship became a mental maze of global conspiracy involving the Soviets, the Mossad, the Illuminati, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and God knows what else.
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