The movie, also starring Liev Schreiber and Peter Sarsgaard, details Fischer’s rise to the pinnacle of chess and his long descent into madness.
The chess prodigy was so tightly wound his paranoia and eccentric behavior nearly overshadowed his genius at chess.
Recognized as a prodigy by the age of 6, he became obsessed with becoming World Champion and directly challenging Soviet dominance of the game. The Russians politicized their prowess as a sign of Communism’s superiority.
Fischer became the youngest chess Grandmaster and youngest World Championship contender as a teenager. He won the 1963–64 U.S. Championship with the only perfect score in the history of the tournament, according to a popular biography.
During the ’60s and ’70s, Fischer became a political lightning rod in the contest of wills between the two countries.
In 1972, he won the World Chess Championship from Russian Boris Spassky. The Cold War confrontation attracted more worldwide interest than any chess championship before or since, according to a biography.
After the victory, he dropped out of chess for nearly two decades.
During his time in the public eye, he became known for his racist rants against Jews (he was Jewish). Following the 2001 terror attacks, he praised the attackers.
He was forced to flee the United States in 1992 for violating a trade ban by playing a game in Yugoslavia. After living as an international fugitive, Iceland ultimately granted him political asylum.
He died in 2008 at the age of 64 from kidney failure while living in relative obscurity in Reykjavik. True to his eccentric style, he refused medical help for an easily treatable renal blockage.
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