Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) Script

In the days before the event, he had the whole world wondering if he would show up.

Plane after plane waited on the runway while he napped or 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 they had no bowling alleys.

He complained about the TV cameras, about the lighting, about the table and chairs, and the contrast of the squares on the board.

His hotel room, he said, had too nice a view.

None of this had anything to do with chess, of course... or maybe it did.

If he won, he'd be the first American world champion in history.

If he lost, he'd just be another patzer from Brooklyn.

On the 40th move of the 21st game, he countered Spassky's bishop to king-6 with a pawn to rook-4.

And it was all over.

He came home an American hero.

He bragged to the world he'd beat the Russians.

He delivered.

He can now command the same money as heavyweight prizefighters.

He was invited to dinner by statesmen and kings.

Then Bobby Fischer made the most original, unexpected move of all.

He disappeared.

Where is he?

Maybe he gave up.

Do you see anything?

I think we lost him.

It's cold. Let's go home.

If he doesn't find us in two hours, I say we go.

Hello, boys.

Theo, what are you doing here? I thought you wanted to go home.

I have to buckle my own shoes, right?

You said something about rolling on your own side of the board, right?

This is my side. Remember that?

Roll it on your own side.

You talk too much.

You talk too much.



Your move.


That's good. Well, there you go.

Not too much, but that's good.

A little more. Yeah. That's good.

You got to be careful not to use it too much, but you want just enough. A little more. That's great. O.K.

That looks pretty good. How's that look to you?

Pretty good. Good.

Now rub that in there.

See how the leather drinks that up?

That's got a great smell? Smell that.

Yeah. Great. O.K.


What's wrong? I forgot to buy a ball.

Do you believe it?

You got to put a ball in the pocket.

A hard ball... to get the shape right.

Yeah. That'll work. O.K.

Put that in like that... bend that over.

All right. Get in bed.

Tomorrow I buy a real baseball.

You know what?

I don't believe this.

I can't believe it.


You're 7.

Happy birthday.

Good night, Josh. Good night.



How was school? Good.

O.K. Bye.

Bye. See ya. How you doing?

Fine. Bye.

Bye-bye. See ya.

Are you in the mood for some pizza?

I don't know. Are you?

Are you feeling all right?

Yeah. Why?

Where we going to get pizza?

You want to go watch the men in the park?

What men in the park?

I'm going to smack this guy's ass, man.

There's fire in the bush.

It ain't over. We still got a minute.

When it slaps 12:00, then it's over.

Then it's over.

We playing chess. What we playing here?

We playing chess. Now we playing chess.

Come on, Josh, let's go.

Is that the best you got? That's the best you got?

You ain't got nothing. You sure you've played this game?

Maybe you want to go to Chinatown and play Chinese checkers?

No, that ain't it. That ain't that either.

You want that? O.K. You can have that.

But you can't have that. That's my baby.

You got to leave with that. You can't trade queens with me.

I ain't in the trading business. What you trying to do?

You're going to have to do better than that.

That's Kamran Shirazi.

That's Kamran Shirazi.

That's Kamran Shirazi, man.

Shirazi! The Grandmaster's here. You come to hustle the hustler.

Don't look at my clock. My time is fine.

I want to go home. Come on Josh. Let's go.

Come on, Grandmaster. Show me something.

Show me something Grandmaster. All right. Check to his majesty.

No, no. Back up. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

You can't have it.

Hello? That's right. Run.



Somebody call the police. The man is loitering.

Excuse me, sir.

I noticed your sign. Where is your camera?

No. My son would like to play a game of chess with you.


Nyet. Nyet.

It's over. You lose.


What's his name?

Josh. Josh what?

Don't tell him your last name. Waitzkin.

Josh Waitzkin.

I'm going to watch out for you, Josh Waitzkin.

Tell these patzers I watched you play like Bobby Fischer used to.

Show them this. Your boy used pieces in combination to attack, lady.

Shut up, man. Look what you did.

And here's the pitch. A short grounder to second base.

Here's the throw. And he got it.

Hey, babe. Hi.


Where's Josh? He's over there.

Hey, Josh. How's it going? Eddie.

Come here. Give me a hand.

What did I miss? No score.

I took Josh to the park today. He played chess.

Josh doesn't know how to play chess.

Don't ask me how, but he does.

You going to write about sports like your dad, or you going to play?

I'll play second base for the Yanks.

Make that a four-game streak!

They could use a second baseman.

Careful. Careful, careful. Here.

Hey... look what I found.

Want to play a game?


For fun.

Let's go to a dealership instead and get some brochures.

Well, show him.

Your dad wants to see you play, like with the men in the park.

Hey, it'll be fun. Then we'll go to a dealership.

Now go easy on me. It's been a while since I've played.


... checkmate.

You see, I've got you here and here. See?

Can we go to the dealership now?

Sure. Pee and get your coat.

Yeah, I know. I should've let him win one.

I gave him every opportunity. He wasn't trying to win.

Oh no?

Come on, Bonnie. It doesn't matter.

No. Say what you mean.

You don't get it?

He doesn't want to beat his daddy.


She thinks you're throwing the game.

You know what that means, throwing the game?


Well, this time, really try.

I was trying.

Well, I know you were, but we're going to play one more just for fun, O.K.?

Josh... it's O.K. to beat him. You won't hurt his feelings.

It's your move.

Your move, Josh!

I can't.

I'm playing chess with my dad.

Chess. It's a game, like Monopoly.


Don't hang up.


Your move, Josh!

Did you move that pawn?

I moved a pawn, yeah.

Yeah, that one.

Move my horse in front of my king.

You mean your knight.



He's going to lose his queen.


Did you do it?


Can we go out now?

Well, the game's not over yet, Josh.

Yes, it is.

Bobby Fischer was 6, when his mother moved the family.. to a small apartment near Ebbets Field.

At night, when the traffic noise died down, you could hear the roar of the crowd from the stadium.

His sister brought home games to amuse him while their mother was at work.

Monopoly... Parcheesi... chess.

Even though she was five years older, she was soon no match for him.

It became more interesting for him to play against himself.

He'd play both sides of the board equally hard, careful to be fair... and he always won.

And up... 3... 4.

Now over. Arms long, girls, and down.

Let's go to the other side.

Long neck.

And pliƩ.

And down.

3... 4. Very nice.

J'adoube. What are you doing?


J'adoube? You moved the piece.

No, I did not move the piece. I adjusted the piece. J'adoube.

No, you moved it, then took it back.

No, I adjusted... Who are you with again?

No, you picked up the piece...

The Hadassah chapter on Sutton Island.

What did you have in mind?

Lecture? Exhibition?

I'm looking for Bruce Pandolfini.

What are you prepared to pay?


Do you know how much I'm accustomed to getting for a lecture?

Want to play?

Can I have one of those?

Yes, I'll be there.

Yes, I... I'm agreeing to the $30.

Yes, I have it.


I work for a newspaper. I wanted...

I don't know where Bobby Fischer is.

I was talking to the guy who writes the chess column.

He told me I could find Bruce Pandolfini here.

I'm looking for a teacher for my son.

I don't teach anymore.

He was sure that you did.

I don't.

Come on, Josh.

Just a second.


What was the score?

33 to 8.

33 to 8? What did you do?

3 home runs, 3 triples, and 2 singles.

I almost had 4 home runs, but I slipped coming home from third.

I ain't playing this game.

Caught you looking.

Never play defensive. Always attack.

Even when you retreat, you attack. You understand?

Yeah. There you go. Now you're playing chess.

That's right. Make him run.

Got me in trouble. I'm on the run.

What can I do? Where can I go?

Young Fischer.

Come after me.

There you go. Outstanding. Outstanding.

Nothing I can do now.

I'm in major trouble, major trouble. I got big problems now.

What's this? This goes like this.

And this goes like this. And this can go over pieces.

That piece should go over here. And the pawn go...

And the pawns... The pawns can take like this.

This is a pawn...

You sneak in here again, Katya? Yeah.

Come on. It's way past your bedtime.

Say good night to your brother. Good night.


Mom? Yeah?

Does Vinnie sleep in the park?

I have no idea where he lives.

Well, I was thinking... maybe he could sleep in my top bunk instead.

Then when I get old enough, he could sleep down here.

You have a good heart.

And that's the most important thing in the world.

Good night. Good night, Mom.

Glad you could make it.

So how's it going?

All right.


That's great.

So what do you think?

Have you ever been to a tournament before?

No. You're in luck then.

This is one of the most prestigious.

The talent gathered here's the strongest in the country.

Everybody's here.

Joel Benjamin... Former U.S. Champion, among the six highest-rated players in the country.

The man in the corner's Roman Dzindzichashvili...

Two-time U.S. Champion.

A few years ago, he was ranked among the top 10 players of the world.

Asa Hoffman.

He's the son of two lawyers.

He grew up on Park Avenue, went to Columbia and Horace Mann before dropping out to play chess full-time.

He plays about 200 chess tournaments a year.



How much do you make at the tournaments altogether... about $2,000 a year?

Look at that. I got him thinking. I got him thinking.

Maybe I can win a pawn.

Clearly, you had me come here so I could see all this.

But if you really wanted me to say no to letting my son play, you wouldn't have bothered.

You want me to think you want me to say no, but you actually... want me to say yes.

You have no idea, what I want.

What is chess, do you think?

Those who play for fun, or not at all, dismiss it as a game.

The ones who devote their lives to it, for the most part, insist it is a science. It's neither.

Bobby Fischer got underneath it like no one before him and found at its center... art.

I've spent my life trying to play like him.

Most of these guys have.

But we're like forgers.

We're competent fakes.

His successor wasn't here tonight.

He wasn't here.

He's asleep in his room in your house.

Your son creates like Fischer.

He sees like him... inside.

You can tell that by watching him play some drunks in the park?


You want to know what I want?

I'll tell you what I want. I want back what Bobby Fischer took with him when he disappeared.

Yeah, look at that.

You're his father. It's your decision.


I... I'd like you to meet a friend of mine.

Hi, Josh.

This is Bruce.


Well, I'll let you two... I'll be downstairs.

I love water basketball.

Well, supposedly, he used to, really be someone.

Some sort of... master level... something or other.

Used to.

Well, yeah. Well, he doesn't play anymore...on the circuit... or... or whatever,... they call it.

Well, he's interesting.

All right, this is it.

Mr. Green in the conservatory with the candlestick.


I need to talk to your dad a minute.

I'll see you next week, O.K.?

I really had a great time, Josh. Me, too.

Bye. Bye.

The first lesson went very well, I think.


So... were you guys... talking about... chess up there?

No, it didn't come up.

So I'll see you next Saturday then?


That's great.

So long.

How about some Pac-Man next week, Josh?

Pac-Man and pizza. Great.


I'll see myself out. It was very nice meeting you.

Mate is four moves from the position in front of you.

Don't move until you figure it out in your head.

Don't look to me for a hint.

I can't do it without moving the pieces.

Yes, you can.

Clear the lines of men in your head, one at a time, and the king will be left standing alone, like a guy on a street corner.

Here, I'll make it easier for you.

Knight to c8.


I want to show you something else.

This is very rare.

It says, "Master Chess Certificate..." awarded to..." and there's a blank here for a name...

"for highest achievement on this day of blank, nineteen hundred and blank."

Careful with it.

It's a mysterious and powerful thing.

It's only been given out...

I don't know... a few times in history.

And then only to those who achieve a lot of master-class points.

Then there's a big ceremony and so on.

How do you get master-class points?

You earn them.

You just earned 10... for that knight to c8.


10... master... class... points.

O.K., Josh, let's go!

Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

Take two! Go! Go! Go! Go!


You're overdressed, Bruce.

Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?



Yay, Eagles!

O.K., yeah!

Nice game, guys.

Let's get that equipment in and head on out!

Good game, fellas.

Come on, Josh.

His chess ideas are like pieces of his body he's reluctant to give up.

For instance, he simply can't cope with being told not to bring his queen out too early in the game.

Why shouldn't he?

He's won many a game in Washington Square doing exactly that.

Why is this suddenly wrong?

Try getting him to brush his teeth sometime.

What I'm trying to teach him and what he's learning there are two very different things.

Park hustlers play tactics, not position.

They rely on wild, unpredictable moves meant to intimidate their opponents.

Great in a two-minute speed game for drug money, but it'll cost Josh dearly in real games.

Well, he's learning some new words.

Could you keep him from playing there so much?



Not playing in the park would kill him. He loves it.

Just makes my job harder.

Then your job's harder.

What are you talking about?

We're already packed. We're, like, out the door.

Make sure his laces are tied if there's escalators.

I don't know why I said it's O.K. in the first place Well, you didn't. He wants to do this.

I should've dissuaded him then.

I played in tournaments.

They have nothing to do with what's important.

They're about all winning and losing. So?

It's not chess.

Chess is art.

That's right.

No. Chess is you appreciating the beauty of Josh's play at 60 bucks an hour.

Now, will you be ready to go in 30 minutes or not? That what I need to know.

He's not coming.

May I talk to him?

Hold on.


I don't...



Josh, how are you doing? You excited?


Listen, I can't make it.

I've got some things I have to take care of.

That's O.K.

I'll be thinking of you. You'll do great, I know it.

And I'll see you when you get back.



O.K. bye. Don't bring your queen out too soon...

This is great.

Which one's yours?

Over there by the steps.

That... That one's mine.

All right, yeah. What?

Looks like they're friends already.

What's his rating?


15 hundred?


How old is he?



Well, I doubt that they'll be playing each other then.

Morgan's not rated 1,000 yet.

15 hundred?

Questions during the course of the game, raise your hand.

He was cheating. He tried to castle when I had him checked.

O.K., I want to remind you to conduct yourselves like adults.

I don't want any trouble.

And you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you're going to watch the game, do so from behind the player.

No throat noises.

No comments.

No eye contact.

Nobody cares if you're guilty or not.

If you all behave yourselves, I think we'll all have a very good time.

I'm not kidding.

Listen, my son can't play with these pieces.

My daughter needs her own clock.

This is unfair.

Start... your clocks.

I did not pull on my ear!

You pulled on your ear!

I did not! I scratched my ear!

You're a liar! Break it up!

He's out of his mind!

Break it up!

I don't care!

Take your hands off me!

You're the one who's trying to...

We just came to have fun.

I don't understand this.


Hey, what... Hey!

See, you can call me the man of many signals.

Many signals.

Knock it off, for Christ's sake.

I don't want to "knock it off, for Christ's sake."

I'm a man of many signals.

Yeah, I pull my nose, my elbow... and whatever else I want to pull.

You play the game fair. That's the way it's played.

So... you see me pulling my ear, it's not an itch.

You might think it's an itch, but it's not an itch.

So watch for the subtleness.

You're lucky you don't get nervous at these things.


If your son wins his game and my son wins his, they'll be playing each other in the final round.

I can hardly wait.

Hey! It's only a game.

I'm going to get myself a tuna fish sandwich.

Can I get you a sandwich? No, that's...

I'm going to get you a tuna fish sandwich.

Queen takes pawn.

Josh is in trouble. He's down another pawn.

Don't you believe it. Your boy'll pull it out.

No, he's down too much material.

He's going to lose.

Knight takes rook.

Petey just hung his rook!

He probably sacrificed it for position.

He's probably still got the advantage.

It's over.

Wha... d...

Who won?

In school, before he dropped out, Bobby studied chess books while his teachers taught other things.

When they told him to put his books away, or took them away, he studied in his head.

When a science report came back to him once with the words "not satisfactory" written across the top, he wrote under it just as big, "Tough."

He was 14, and had already beaten the strongest adult players in the country to become the youngest U.S. champion ever.

Welch is on the mound. Now Casey signals.

He winds up... the pitch!

Bye, mom.

Have fun.

We'll call you when we get there.


There's your dad.


Look at this. Look at this. See this?

None of you patzers ever won anything like this.

Shut up. We're trying to play a game.

He gets it, throws to first... Gets him!

And one out.


That's a high-15 instead of a high-5.

I think we got it in the bag now.

Come on, Bruce!

All right.

The windup and... the pitch!


He's out.

And in first place... Josh Waitzkin.

Mr. Waitzkin?

Hi. How you doing?

Hi. I'm so glad you could make it.

Me, too. This is really great.

Isn't it? The children worked very hard on it.

I understand from Josh you just got back from Washington.

I think that's super. Yeah, it was great.

He told us all about the hotel. He was impressed with that.

You've been taking him a lot of places lately.

I think it's good. It's important for kids to travel.

It's a great education. They start to realize there's more to the world than Washington Square.

Yes. He's been talking a lot about Washington Square, too.

... let's see... we've heard about hotels in, Syracuse, Philadelphia, Boston...

Washington now.

That seems to be all he can remember.

Not the White House or the Capitol building or the Lincoln Memorial.

And you're wondering why that is.

It's because I'm a rotten father. You're right.

I drag him all over the country for my own selfish reasons.

Fred! Is Josh falling behind in his schoolwork?

He is, but I'm more concerned about other things... like his friendships.

There's a problem there? There could be.

Well, is there or isn't there?

Mr. Waitzkin...

I'm sure he's very good at this chess thing, but that isn't really the issue...

Chess thing.

I'm sorry?

Chess thing.

I'm sure he's good at it, but it worries me.

If I could make an analogy...

If it was like, say... I don't know... cards, pinochle.

Pinochle. For instance.

Pinochle. Fred...

Bonnie... She's comparing chess to pinochle.

What am I supposed to say to that?

She's trying to make a point.

Maybe we should listen.

Vinnie thinks he's spending too much time at it, too.

Vinnie? Vinnie's a drug addict.

I'm supposed to listen to his opinion, too?

I'm sorry, but your analogy is a very bad one.

If you want to make a comparison to something, have it make sense.

Compare it to math or music or art, because otherwise it belittles him and it and me.

I don't mean to belittle you...

But you are, even the way you're looking at me.

Mr. Waitzkin, I think perhaps...

I'll tell you how good he is. He's better at this than I've ever been at anything in my life.

He's better at this than you'll ever be at anything.

My son has a gift.

He has a gift, and once you acknowledge that, then maybe we'll have something to talk about.


Chess is what it's called.

Not the "chess thing."


What's its number?

It doesn't have a number. It's a private school.

Only the public schools have numbers.

It's called Dalton.

You can still see your friends whenever you want...

After school or on weekends, when there's not a tournament.

Your friend Morgan goes there.

Morgan goes there?


He wouldn't go there unless it was great, right?

It's the best.

They,... even have a chess class.

What's the yard like?

The yard?

Do they have good stuff to climb on?

I'm sure it does.

I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's great.

So,... what do you think?

If you say it's great, then it has to be.

It's a mistake.

What was wrong with the old school?

I don't know. I guess it was no good.

And the new one's better?

They have a chess class.

They have a chess class.

Are you O.K.?

What the hell's going on over there?

Bobby Fischer.

Young Fischer.



Trick or treat.

Why is black better? Take your time.

White has more pawn islands.

Which is white's weakest island?

The isolated pawn.

Only the king can save it.

That's right.

That's very good.

You just earned 20 master-class points.

You studying up on your end game, Bruce?

Josh, go get yourself a Coke. We're through here.

Get yourself a Coke.

What do you want?

Hello. How are you? How have you been?

How's your health?

Any one of these would be appropriate.

I want to join the club.

Well, actually, not me, my young friend Jonathan here.

I suggest you bring him back in a couple of years.

We'd like an application, if it's not too much trouble.

He's been my student since he was 4 years old.

His parents have given him to me.

Does nothing but play chess.

No other interests.

He goes to school?


Well, that's great. You should be proud of yourself.

I am.

You should watch him play. He reminds me of you, only he never gives up.


It's not a part of his character.

He's not going to disappoint his teacher.

"And when he knew that the cottage was entirely destroyed," the monster screamed once more in agony and hatred

"and retreated backward to seek refuge in the woods."

Then it gets really scary because they chase him and light torches and stuff.

So we'll get to that tomorrow.

Good night, tiger.

Good night.


Maybe we shouldn't go to the state finals.

What are you talking about?

Of course we're going.

That's what we've worked so hard for.

If I win...

Everybody will say, "Well, of course he won.

He's a top-ranked player."

But if I lose...

You won't lose, Josh.

What if I do?

You won't.

I'm afraid I might.

Josh... they're afraid.

They're terrified of you.

Now you get some sleep.

Maybe it's better not to be the best.

Then you can lose, and it's O.K.

It took people a while to realize he was really gone.

He disappeared before... Once for 18 months before the crushing defeat of Petrosian in Belgrade.

But when he didn't show up in Manila in '75 to defend his title, they took it away from him and gave it back to the Russians.

O.K., let's go.

I'm standing here with Fred Waitzkin.

I hope I pronounced that right.

Tell me Fred, what's it like being a chess parent?

In my case, the hardest part is keeping track of my son's toy cars, making sure he eats something other than French fries...



Your son's the odds-on favorite, I understand.

He's rated number one in his division, yes.

So every other parent in this room hates you.

I'm just kidding, Fred.

Thank you, sir. He can go to his table now.

Next, please.

My God.

That was quick.

I hate this part.



Seven moves.


How is it possible to lose in seven moves?

Maybe I don't really have it.

Well, you know that's not true.

That's not why this happened.

I don't understand why this happened.

Why did this happen?

Well, think.

Take your time.

Take more time than you took losing to that patzer and figure it out.

Did you fall for a trap?

Did you bring your queen out early even though Bruce warned you time and again about that?

Maybe he's just better than me.

No, don't tell me that kid's better than you because he isn't.

Why are you standing so far away from me?

Come here.

It's O.K.

It's O.K.

I'm sorry.

For all his natural ability, Bobby Fischer studied harder than any player who ever lived. He woke up thinking about chess.

He went to bed thinking about it. He dreamt about it.

Why? Isn't it enough to be a natural?

If you don't care about winning, it's enough, but he wanted to win.

He had to be champion, and in order to do that, he had to work, which is what we're going to do. O.K.

Promise you won't argue moves with me, no matter how much you think you're right.

I promise.

Everything I tell you imagine is coming from him because I know every game he ever played, so, in effect, he's going to be teaching you, and you'll become him.


All right.

Some new rules...

No more speed chess.

I know you like it, I know it's fun, but it's no good.

It ruined Arbakov, and it'll ruin you.

And no more games in Washington Square.

They're patzers, and they're teaching you all the wrong things.

They're not patzers.

They're losers, and unless you want to end up just like them, you'll stay away.

They're not patzers.

I mean it.


which one is you?

What do you mean?

I mean, which one is you?

None of them. They're just pieces.

This is you.

So what's your best move?

Rook to d1. What about taking on e5?

What about it?

You didn't consider it. You're still not considering it.

Sit up.

But I'm right. Rook to d1 is the best move.

That's not the point. You didn't study the board.

You're moving before I know the answers. Give me your book.


Give me your book. Why?

You just lost some master-class points, tiger.

I can't lose points.

No? You just lost some more for arguing with me.

Fine, Tim, it's not enough.

What's happening?

What's happening?

I hear a whole lot of talk and don't get much for it.

It hurts!



Do you know what the word contempt means?

It's to think of others as being beneath you, to be unworthy of being in the same room with you.

I don't feel that.

Well, you better start.

Because if you don't think it's a part of winning, you're wrong.

You have to have contempt for your opponents.

You have to hate them.

But I don't.

They hate you.

They hate you, Josh.

I don't hate them.

Bobby Fischer held the world in contempt.

I'm not him.

You're telling me.

In the primary division, In first place with a perfect six out of six...

Jonathan Poe.

Let's give a round of applause for all the winners.

It's white's move.

Can we expect it any time soon?

How many points is it worth?

To make the opening move?


Forget the points.

How much is it worth if I do it?

Do it for its own sake.

I want to know how close I am to getting the certificate.

Forget that.

I already know.

I don't know. What do you mean?

I don't care.

I don't understand.

It's white's move.

I want the certificate.

You want the certificate?

You have to have the certificate?

You won't move until you get the certificate? You win.

Here's your certificate. Fill it out.

Doesn't mean anything. It's a piece of paper.

It's a Xerox of a piece of paper.

Do you want another one?

Do you want 10?

You want 20?


I've got a briefcase full of them. They mean nothing.

They mean nothing.

Get out of my house.

To put a child in a position to care about winning and not to prepare him is wrong.

Get out of my house.

Look, I know you don't want to admit it, but he's right.

I mean, you wouldn't sign your kid up for little league and then not get him a glove.

You equip him.

It's over.

Bonnie, he's in a slump.

This is a slump. It happens.

When you get into a slump, you get out of it eventually. You don't give up.

This is like baseball. If you're afraid to lose, you lose.

If he lose, he gets more afraid. He's afraid.

He's not afraid of losing. He's afraid of losing your love.

How many ballplayers grow up afraid of losing their father's love every time they come up to the plate?

All of them!

He knows you disapprove of him.

He knows you think he's weak, but he's not weak.

He's decent.

And if you or Bruce or anyone else tries to beat that out of him, I swear to God I'll take him away.

When did you start to get serious about chess?

I got serious... well, I was always pretty serious about it.

You know, when I was maybe 7.

People say they've received letters from him over the years, but never show them.

They say he lost his nerve, and he'll never play again.

They say he lost his mind and roams the streets of Los Angeles hiding out under assumed names.



Some people say... he's dead.

I think he's lying low and getting stronger, waiting for just the right moment to come back and reclaim his crown.

Hey, Josh.

What happened to your room?

I cleaned it.

Hey, you know, you don't have to do this anymore.

You could give it up, and that's all right with me.

In fact...

I want you to.

How can I do that?

What do you mean? You just do it.

But I have to win.

No, that's what I'm saying... You don't.

But you told me I did.

Well, I'm telling you now that you don't.

But I do.

I do.


Because I have to.


It doesn't mean anything.

It's just a game.

No, it isn't.

Good morning.

These belong to you.

Want to play?

Two minutes.

What's that?

Schleimann attack.

Where'd you learn that from, a book?

My teacher taught me.

Forget it. Play like you used to... From the gut.

Get your pawns rolling on the queen's side.

Put it out. Josh is playing.

He taught you how not to lose, not how to win.

You got to risk losing. You got to risk everything.

You got to go to the edge of defeat.

But... But what? Play.

Never play the board, always the man.

You got to play the man playing the board. Play me. I'm your opponent.

You have to beat me, not the board. Beat me.

You're not who I have to play. You're playing me now.


All right.

Better! Yes! Come on, move.



All right!



Good move!





Yeah! Good, good, good! Move!

Yeah, that's it!

Good! Yeah!

What's that?



How's it going?

All right.

How's Josh?

Well, he's good. Sit down.

Still planning on going to Chicago for the nationals?


I've seen you both at the park.

Yeah. We've been hanging out there a lot.

Think that's a good idea?

Yes, I do.

He's playing better than ever.

How would you know that?

You're right.

I... I don't know.

But what I do know is that he likes playing again for the first time in a long time.

I know you think you're doing, is the best thing for him, but I got to tell you, that I think you're setting him up for the biggest disappointment of his life.

That other kid isn't spending his afternoons riding bikes and playing Pac-Man, I can guarantee you that.

I'm doing the only thing I know how to do for Josh.

I don't know what else to do.

Don't let him go down there to lose.

That's what you can do for him.

You're his father. Forbid it.

I can't do that.

Fred... he's going to get killed.

There's not going to be much left of him.

You have no idea what a fall like this can do to you.

I think I do.

You know what?

You should come down with us.

It would mean a lot to him to have you there.

That I can't do.

There you go.

Thank you.


Come on, Katya.

O.K. That's not bad, but that's not right, O.K.?

That's not what Casablanca did.

See? You want to be patient.

Fools rush in.

You want to go to the 7th rank...

Hi, Morgan. Josh, where you been?


Look at this.

No chess boards, no chess books.

I wasn't allowed to talk about chess for two whole weeks.

Just fish.

It was my dad's idea.

Hey, Kalev. How's it going?



The 200 young players finding their seats behind me represent some of the strongest chess minds of any age in the country.

Traveling from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, they've come here to compete against each other over the course of the next two long, grueling days.

To become champion, one must win all seven games.

That's right.

This is Donovan Clennan, Director of the National Scholastic Championship.

Tell me, is the next Bobby Fischer somewhere in this room?

Hi, Mom.

This girl you're playing is ranked 82nd.

All right. Get through it quick, and you can rest before the next round, O.K.?


I'll see you in a little while.



Josh... good luck.

Some of you may be unfamiliar with sudden death rules.

If you're writing moves down while a player gets down to where there's less than five minutes left, it's no longer your responsibility to...



Is that clear?

Good luck.

One more thing... If you have a problem...


If you have a problem, you don't have to discuss it with your opponent.

All these people with purple hats around here, they'll be wandering around.

Just put your hand up, and they'll straighten it up.

O.K. Just hold up your hand, and they'll see it.

Don't argue with your opponent.

That's ridiculous.

O.K. good luck. Start your clocks.

Can I come in?

How are you feeling?


I can't beat him.

You might be right.

I'm not supposed to say that, but you'd know I was lying if I said anything else.

I have something for you.

It says, "This is to certify that Josh Waitzkin, on this day," has in the eyes of his teacher...

"attained the rank of Grandmaster."

I have never been so proud of anyone in my life.

I'm honored to call myself your teacher.

I'm so scared.

I know.

Will you stay until it's over?

Will I stay?

I wouldn't miss it for the world.

It's unsettling, isn't it?

When you realize there are only so many things you can teach a child.

And finally... they are who they are.

Good luck.

Good luck.

Start your clocks.

What's happening? Why isn't he moving?

Letting his time run. Trying to psych Josh out.

Don't do it, Josh. Don't even think about it.

Bring her out.

Keep her back.

Bring her out, Josh.

Jesus! What?

Is it over?

Is it over? He's setting him up. Josh is setting him up now.

I taught him that.


There it is!

Trick or treat.

That was a mistake.

What was a mistake?

Who made a mistake?

Look deep, Josh. It's there.

It's 12 moves away, but it's there.

You've got him.

Take his pawn with your pawn.

G takes f6 forking his bishop and rook.

Don't take back with your bishop.

You'll need that to guard e7.

He'll take back, either with his bishop or his knight.

When he does, this is the hard part, sacrifice your rook.

Capture him on f6 and get him to check.

King has to take your rook. He takes f6.

Give him the knight to check e7, forking his king and his rook.

He'll move to safety. King f5.

Take his rook with your knight. He'll take back with his king, and you've got him.

Don't move until you see it. I can't see it.

Don't move until you see it. I can't see it.

Don't move until you see it.

I'm sorry, Dad.

Here, I'll make it easier for you.

He's got it.

He's got it?

How do you know he's got it?

He's got it.


Come on, move.

What's that supposed to mean?

What's that supposed to mean? He's offering him a draw.

I'm offering you a draw.

Draw? You've got to be kidding.

You've lost.

You just don't know it.

I've lost?

Look at the board.

I have.

Take the draw, and we'll share the championship.

Take the draw.



Good game.


Hey, you did good.

All right!

Yes! Josh, my man.

All right! All right! My man!

I'm so proud of you. I knew you could do it.

I told you. I told you.

Bobby Fischer played in Washington Square Park, too.

See this? Look. Josh Waitzkin.

Morgan, what... Morgan... will you come here?

I tried to give him a way out.

I know you did.

Why did you bring the queen out so early?

You know what I'm saying?

You know what I'm saying?

Do you understand what I'm saying?

Are you listening to me?

What happened? I lost. That's all.

What did your dad say?

"You should have taken out your knight" instead of your queen. "You took out your queen too early."

I do that, too.

That's all he said? Pretty much.


you want to know a secret?

I'm going to tell you a secret.

You're a much stronger player than I was at your age.