The trailer for Pawn Sacrifice, the story of Bobby Fischer and the 1972 World Chess Championship, just dropped and boy does Tobey Maguire look crazy. Maguire's eyebrow work has always been impressive, but non-Chess people could be forgiven for wondering why he seems so angry in the trailer. Actually, there's a fairly simple reason.
Fischer was a prodigy and by 1972 he was one of the most successful players in the world, but he rarely won tournament. The reason, he claimed, was collusion among Soviet players. The USSR was out to beat him.
Now, that sounds neurotic and Fischer was certainly that — he ended up living in Iceland after making a second career of being anti-semitic — but his logic was fairly sound. Here’s what he wrote about the experience of playing championship chess in Sports Illustrated:
"Sometimes, after their quick draws [when players agree that games were a tie, awarding themselves half a point apiece] with each other, the Russians wouldn't go back to the swimming pool. They would openly analyze my game while I was still playing it…. I studied Russian enough to be able to read their chess books, and I could easily understand what they were saying. They would say this move is good, or that move is good — in Russian, of course. My Russian isn't the greatest but, believe me, they weren't talking about the weather."
Tobey's angry because he thinks his opponent is a cheat and Tobey (spoiler alert!) is gonna get even.