11 Best Chess Movies of All Time

Best Chess Movies of All Time

Chess is a popular game throughout the world, and chess movies have been produced for a long time ago. A chess movie is a good one if it has the right plot, the right characters, and the right settings. There are dozens of chess movies out there, but only a few made their mark on the audience. This is why I decided to write this article to present you the 11 Best Chess Movies of All Time. This list of movies offer wholesome family entertainment. There is something for everyone on this list of movies that are perfect as a rainy day pick-me-up movie. Enjoy this article of the 11 best chess movies.

So, let’s get started…….

11. Game Over

Game Over Kasparov and the Machine (2003)
  • Year: 2003
  • IMDb Rating: 6.7/10
  • Director: Vikram Jayanti
  • Cast: Marc Ghannoum, Joel Benjamin, Michael Greengard, Anatoli Karpov
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 30m

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine is a documentary film focuses on the greatest chess player Garry Kasparov. This film sets in 1997 where Kasparov played a chess match against IBM’s computer Deep Blue. He lost the match and blamed IBM of cheating its way to victory. The film includes interviews with Kasparov, his team, chess experts, IBM Deep Blue team members, and original footage of the match.

10. Knights of the South Bronx

Knights of the South Bronx
  • Year: 2005
  • IMDb Rating: 6.7/10
  • Director: Allen Hughes
  • Cast: Ted Danson, Malcolm David Kelley, Keke Palmer, Clifton Powell
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 29m

Knights of the South Bronx is a drama television film based on the true story of David MacEnulty. It is directed by Allen Hughes. The story focuses on Richard Mason, an out-of-work businessman who becomes a substitute teacher in a South Bronx school in the inner city where he finds it hard to motivate his students whose parents are drug addicts or in jail or struggling to pay the bills. He teaches them to play chess, and makes them win the New York City and the New York State Chess Championships. Along the journey, the students learn a lot about life.

9. The Luzhin Defence

The Luzhin Defence
  • Year: 2000
  • IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
  • Director: Marleen Gorris
  • Cast: John Turturro, Emily Watson, Geraldine James, Stuart Wilson
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 49m

The Luzhin Defence is a romantic drama film which is set in the late 1920s. The film tells the story of a unworldly and mentally tormented chess Grand Master, Aleksandr Ivanovich ‘Sascha’ Luzhin who arrives in the Italian Lakes to play a world-class tournament. There he meets Natalia Katkov and unknowingly falls in love with her. He was tormented by his parents’ failing marriage, and is addicted by the game. Eventually his competitor Dottore Salvatore Turati acknowledges his genius.

8. Pawn Sacrifice

  • Year: 2014
  • IMDb Rating: 7/10
  • Director: Edward Zwick
  • Cast: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 55m

Pawn Sacrifice is a biographical drama film based on the chess player Bobby Fischer. The film has a very entertaining storyline and focuses on Bobby’s 1972 World Chess Championship match during the Cold War against a soviet chess champion Boris Spassky. The list of best chess movies is incomplete without this film. If you wish to enjoy a good chess movie I highly recommend you to watch this film.

7. Magnus

  • Year: 2016
  • IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
  • Director: Benjamin Ree
  • Cast: Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Garry Kasparov, Henrik Albert Carlsen
  • Language: Norwegian English
  • Runtime: 1h 18m

Magnus is a documentary film directed by Benjamin Ree. It was premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. It became the first Norwegian feature documentary to have its world premiere at the film and the fastest sold out film that year.

The film centres on the early life of Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen who was born in 1990, and achieved grandmaster status at the age of 13 and world champion in 2013. The film also shows why Magnus is one of the greatest chess players and how he achieved success. It’s an inspirational story so you can enjoy it even though you are not a chess lover.

6. Brooklyn Castle

Brooklyn Castle
  • Year: 2012
  • IMDb Rating: 7.2/10
  • Director: Katie Dellamaggiore
  • Cast: Rochelle Ballantyne, Justus Williams, Je’Daiah Ballantyne, Pamela Ballard
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 41m

Brooklyn Castle is a documentary film about Intermediate School(I.S.) 318, a school in Brooklyn, New York. The school has mostly the students from poor families but Chess helps in transforming the school into one of the city’s best, and most winning junior high school chess team in the country. But a series of deep budget cuts threaten to undermine the chess team but they triumphed both on and off the chessboard.

5. Searching for Bobby Fischer

Searching for Bobby Fischer
  • Year: 1993
  • IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
  • Director: Steven Zaillian
  • Cast: Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley, Max Pomeranc, Joan Allen, Laurence Fishburne
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 49m

The film is about a 7-year-old American boy, Josh Waitzkin who is interested in baseball, but one day he challenges his father in chess and beats him then his talent gets noticed. He befriends with a hustler named Vinnie who helps him learning speed chess. However, Josh’s parents hire a renowned chess coach, Bruce Pandolfini, a ruthless instructor, who teaches him the usefulness of measured planning and tries to make him more like chess magician Bobby Fischer.

4. Bobby Fischer Against the World

Bobby Fischer Against the World
  • Year: 2011
  • IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
  • Director: Liz Garbus
  • Cast: Garry Kasparov, David Edmonds, Anthony Saidy, Susan Polgar
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 34m

Bobby Fischer Against the World is a documentary feature film directed by Liz Garbus that examines the tragic and bizarre life of late chess Grandmaster and 11th World Champion Bobby Fischer. The film covers his life from his troubled childhood through his rise as a World Champion and his life as a fugitive. The film explores mysterious characters of the 20th century and includes rare footage of the World Chess Championship 1972.

3. The Dark Horse

  • Year: 2014
  • IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
  • Director: James Napier Robertson 
  • Cast: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Kirk Torrance, James Napier Robertson
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 2h 4m

The Dark Horse is a New Zealand drama film directed by James Napier Robertson. It won several awards including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Score. New Zealand critics labeled the film as “One of the greatest New Zealand films ever made”.

The film is based on the real-life story of Genesis Potini, a renowned New Zealand chess player who suffered from a nervous breakdown and several adversities in his life. Despite all the problems he finds the courage to deal with adverse situations. Then he teaches a group of underprivileged children to play the game. It’s a great film that I highly recommend you to watch.

2. Queen of Katwe

  • Year: 2016
  • IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
  • Director: Mira Nair 
  • Cast: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 2h 4m

Queen of Katwe is a biographical sports film directed by Mira Nair. It is the story of a 10-year-old girl, Phiona who lives in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, with her family. They are living a life of poverty and struggling to make ends meet. But Phiona’s world changes when she meets Robert Katende, a missionary who teaches children to play chess. She becomes fascinated with the game and becomes a top player under his guidance. Her success in local tournaments gives her a golden opportunity to escape from a life of poverty.

1. Fresh

  • Year: 1994
  • IMDb Rating: 7.5/10
  • Director: Boaz Yakin
  • Cast: Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N’Bushe Wright
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 1h 55m

Michael aka Fresh, a 12-year-old drug dealer, finds himself in a trap of poverty, corruption, and racial tension in Brooklyn, New York. His alcoholic father Sam is a skilled speed-chess champion. When his drug-addict sister Nichole starts living in a relationship with local drug lord Esteban, he calls upon the lessons of chess he learned with his father which help him in devising a complex plan to free both himself and his sister from the hopeless life. It’s an incredible movie and has an amazing storyline. You must watch this movie.

Wrapping Up:

We hope that this list was helpful to you in choosing the best one for you! Now you can enjoy a good chess movie without worrying about other criteria. Of course, there are some other great chess movies available that we didn’t mention in the above list, but the 11 above are a solid starting point. If we miss any of your favorite chess movies do let us know in the comment below!

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