Director: Benjamin Ree
Talent: Magnus Carlsen, Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand
Released: 25th November
Magnus Carlsen is a rare breed of chess grandmaster: he skis, plays volleyball and reads Donald Duck comics. With good looks that are part Matt Damon, part Justin Bieber, he’s the most marketable (that is, white, and not Russian) chess player since Bobby Fischer. Luckily, he also has the talent to back it up. Magnus details his rise from goofy kid to the swaggering, number one ranked chess player in the world of 2016, interspersing tournament play and interviews with a wealth of candid home video footage.
Let’s be clear: as a documentary, it’s not out to ask any difficult questions. To that end, about as tough as it gets is ‘Why is Magnus so great?’ As the film ably illustrates however, it is Magnus’ intuitive chess genius — in a lineage that runs from Mir Sultan Khan, José Raúl Capablanca and Bobby Fischer to Peter Svidler — that sets him apart from his contemporaries. In a sport increasingly shaped by computer preparation, the dominance of Carlsen’s naturalistic style is as impressive as it is inspirational. An interesting if somewhat pedestrian look at a living legend of the game.
Words – Oisín Murphy-Hall