The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: “Pawn Sacrifice”

“Pawn Sacrifice” is a fictionalized account of the life and times of American chess champion and legend, Bobby Fischer. The story begins with a flash of Bobby as a young boy in Arizona, continues in Brooklyn where he finds chess and follows him through his victory as World Champion in 1972. The filming of this script isn’t yet set but is scheduled for “late fall” and has a release date of 2013 according to IMDB.  IMDB also reports that Tobey McGuire and Naomi Watts have been signed and that the film will be directed by David Fincher.

The title comes from a chess ploy where a lesser piece is sacrificed for the greater good. In case the title failed to land on you like a ton of imitation marble chess boards from Mexico, Mr. Fischer is the aforementioned sacrificed pawn.

More on that in just a minute but allow me to digress for a second or two and say two things about Bobby Fischer. First what’s wrong with just telling Bobby Fischer’s story? A childhood savant of the game he was abandoned by his mother, a devoted communist, in one of the worst urban areas in American at the age of 16. He prospers and becomes the focus of world attention and for a short time the center of the Cold War! Does that story really need any writer’s embellishment?

My second point is strictly opinion but to me the more interesting part of Bobby Fischer’s life is after the World Championships. His journey into madness and isolation, his dabbling in odd cults and political movements and his manic bursts back into the public eye with bizarre pronouncements are a more compelling story and more open to interpretation than the well know and often told story of his rise to international fame.

Thanks for letting me climb up on the soap box for a moment, now back to our feature film, “Pawn Sacrifice,” which was already in progress. When we left off we were saying that in this fictional account of Bobby Fischer’s rise from Bed-Sty to chess legend he ends up being sacrificed for a greater purpose. In this account Mr. Fischer’s paranoia and his mental instability are exacerbated and exploited by…any guesses?  If you said the US Government, give yourself a gold star. If you guessed the evil CIA, move to the head of the class.

In the script a murky CIA agent named “McAllister” is behind the heavy handed machinations of the government. At the beginning of the story, allegedly quoting the President he says, “Never before, in human history, has the outcome of an entire global war of ideas rested on the shoulders of one man”  

I could find no historical support for this quote so I am assuming it came from the writer’s imagination. Really? If Bobby Fischer would have lost to Spassky in ‘72 we would have thrown in the towel? We would have lost the “brain war” because our chess players weren’t as good even though just three years earlier we had put men on the moon? Ok!

Where this script really lost me was when McAllister starts spreading around a bunch of cash. He bribes Carmine Nigro, Bobby’s mentor, and offers him $200,000 if he gets Bobby to try to get to the World Championships and a million if he wins. Why wouldn’t he just approach Fischer? Bobby was a mercenary and always looking for a buck. “Mr. Fisher. The President would like you to kick some Russian behind, would a million dollars do it?”  Of course, that doesn’t make the government look as bad. Just so we are clear, I believe the President at the time was the number three most hated Republican of all time Richard M. Nixon. At one point even Henry Kissinger puts in a cameo to urge Bobby to get it together and go smash the commie chess rats!

Mr. Fischer was many things, genius chess player, a man with abandonment and mommy issues, and most probably a manic depressive but I don’t think CIA dupe was one of them.


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