13 Best Chess Movies Every Chess Player Must Watch

Chess + Movies !? Seems an interesting combination right? Indeed, What does a sportsperson want from a movie, some fun and some motivation, inspiration? So what if I tell you there are around 13 movies/ documentaries which are worth watching? When we travel to a tournament, we need something to curb the journey, some book, some movie, or someone to talk to, so if you don’t have a book, you can watch the following chess movies with your friends! These best chess movies are full of excitement and thrill.

The Queen’s  Gambit

The Queen's Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit is a new web series on Netflix about a young girl who is a chess prodigy. The series follows her as she grows up and becomes a world-class chess player. The series is very well-written and acted, and it is interesting to see the characters develop over time. The chess games are also very well-done, and it is fascinating to see the strategies that the characters use. Overall, The Queen’s Gambit is a great series that is definitely worth watching.

Pawn Sacrifice – 2014

Pawn Sacrifice

Directed by – Eduard Zwick

Running time – 115 min

budget – 19 million USD

The movie Pawn Sacrifice is based on former world champion Bobby Fischer. It is based on the true story of Bobby Fischer’s challenge against top Soviet chess Grandmasters during the Cold War and culminating in the World Chess Championship 1972 match versus Boris Spassky in Reykjavík, Iceland. It was directed by Edward Zwick and written by Steven Knight. The film stars Tobey Maguire as Bobby Fischer, Liev Schreiber as Boris Spassky, Lily Rabe as Joan Fischer, and Peter Sarsgaard as William Lombardy.


Director – Benjamin Ree

Running time – 78 min

This documentary is based on current world champion Magnus Carlsen. The film features footage from Magnus’s childhood, his showdown with Kasparov when he was just thirteen, and the exciting environment that surrounded the Anand vs. Carlsen world championship match in Chennai where Carlsen reached the summit. If you are a real chess fan then you must watch this movie, You will feel goosebumps.

Queen of Katwe – 2016

Best Chess Movies

Director – Mira Nair

Running Time – 124 min

Collection – 10.4 Million USD

The 2012 book made into a movie “Queen of Katwe” is a 2016 film based on the life of Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl growing up in the slums of Katwe. Phiona, played by actress Madina Nalwanga, would frequent the local center where chess is taught by Robert Katende, played by actor David Oyelowo. At first, her motivation is that the students would receive a free meal for attending the class, and then it was realized that Phiona has a talent for chess which evolves into a love for the game. After successes in local tournaments, Phiona is challenged to play chess on an international level and learns of life outside of Katwe.

Brooklyn Castle -2012

Director – Katie Dellamaggiore

Running time – 101 min

This movie is a documentary film about Intermediate School 318, an inner-city public school in Brooklyn, New York. Where an after-school chess program, having both dedicated educators and a supportive community, has triumphed over deep budget cuts to build the most winning junior high school chess team in the country, and the first middle school team to win the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship. The film follows five of the school’s chess team members for one year and documents their challenges and triumphs both on and off the chessboard.

Game over – Kasparov and machine

Directed by Vikram Jayanti

Running time – 90 min

Kasparov had beaten Deep Blue, a computer designed specifically to beat him, in a match played in 1996. He agreed to offer a rematch the following year. Kasparov won the first game of the rematch easily with the white pieces. In the second game, Kasparov was struggling with the black pieces but set a trap that most computers fall for. Deep Blue didn’t fall for it and won to level the match. At the time it was reported that both Kasparov and Deep Blue missed a perpetual check that could have given Kasparov a draw, but the strongest computer chess engines today oppose it. For example, Stockfish doesn’t consider the final position as a draw, but as having better winning chances for white, contradicting the human analysis at the time that Kasparov missed an opportunity to enter into a perpetual check.

The next three matches ended in draws, with Kasparov appearing to weaken psychologically. Deep Blue went on to win the decisive sixth game, marking the first time in history that a computer defeated the World Champion in a match of several games. From this experience, particularly in the second game of the match, Kasparov accused the IBM team of cheating. He suspected that a human player was used during the games to improve the strategic strength of the computer. As a metaphor for this suspicion, the film weaves in the story of the Turk, a hoax involving a chess-playing automaton built in the eighteenth century, but secretly operated by human beings. The film also implies that Deep Blue’s heavily promoted victory was a plot by IBM to boost the company’s market value.

Closing Gambit

This film is a story about the infamous Karpov – Korchnoi world championship match which ended on 17th Oct 1978. The film was successfully screened to international buyers at the Cannes Festival earlier and will become widely available on TV and digital platforms later. documentary to be seen by every chess enthusiast. for the full article, you can click on this link

Dark Horse – 2014

Directed by James Robertson

Running time – 125 min

One of the best motivational chess movies is Dark Horse. The movie is based on the real-life story of New Zealand chess player Genesis Photini. A man who wants to become a leader and change the life of the children who have no hopes for a better future. The movie is a drama film written and directed by James Napier Robertson. The actors are Cliff Curtis and James Rolleston. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Score at the 2014 New Zealand Film Awards.

The Luzhin Defense

Director – Marlin Gorris

Running time – 109 min

Collection – 1.8 million USD

The Luzhin Defence is a 2000 romantic drama film directed by Marleen Gorris, starring John Turturro and Emily Watson. The film centers on a mentally tormented chess grandmaster and the young woman he meets while competing at a world-class tournament in Italy. The screenplay was based on the novel The Defense (The Luzhin Defence) by Vladimir Nabokov. Emily Watson received best actress nominations at the British Independent Film Awards and the London Film Critics Circle Awards.

Bobby Fischer Against the World

Director – Liz Garbus

Running time – 94 min

This 2011 film, dives into the life and genius of Bobby Fischer. There are several interviews with personalities such as Larry Evans, Susan Polgar, Garry Kasparov, and many others that knew Fischer or were influenced by his genius. Bobby Fischer took on the entire Soviet chess empire and won! The film includes rare footage of Fischer’s 1972 World Championship match against Boris Spassky where he won the ultimate chess title. This film explores the tragic and bizarre life of the late chess master from his troubled childhood through his rise to fame and his life as a fugitive.

The film is dedicated to editor Karen Schmeer, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident while they were already a few months into the editing process. Here is a full documentary.

The coldest game

Director – Łukasz Kośmicki

Running time- 96 min

The Coldest Game (Polish: Ukryta gra) is a 2019 English-language Polish spy film starring Bill Pullman. This spy thriller is the last film produced by Piotr Woźniak-Starak, who died in an apparent boating accident shortly before the premiere. “The Coldest Game” is a spy movie that came out exclusively on the streaming service Netflix. Fortunately for all chess lovers, it includes a couple of very interesting chess games which consist of some analysis. Although this movie is fictional, some real events and politicians are part of it, like the Cuban crisis, President John F. Kennedy, and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The fictional chess games also follow real examples and it is a joy to replay some of the beautiful combinations the film cites. You can watch this movie with a Netflix subscription. Read the full story here.

Dangerous moves

Producer – Arthur Cohn

Run time – 100 minutes

This movie is originally made in the french language with the name la diagonale do fou. Aging Soviet chess champion Akiva Liebskind (Michel Piccoli) arrives in Geneva to face off against his former student Pavius Fromm (Alexandre Arbatt) in a World Championship match. Pavius is a defector from the USSR, and the Soviet authorities threaten to harm Akiva’s family if he does not defeat the rogue player. Determined to shame Pavius, the government brings the wife (Liv Ullmann) he left behind to the game, attempting to unnerve him as the stress of the match takes its toll on both men.

Capablanca – 1987

Director – Manuel Herrera

Run time – 96 minutes

This movie is about former world champion Jose Raul Capablanca the famous Cuban chess player when he traveled to Russia and got in love with Sasha, a classic ballet dancer.

So above were the 13 Bset Chess movies which I felt interesting and worth sharing. Do comment on which chess movies you like the most!


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