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Before Making a Move, Check for a Mate to Help

Aside from a chalkboard with Chinese algebra, chess may be the hardest board to read.

Like most kids in 1993, Searching for Bobby Fischer had a profound effect on me in terms of how gritty films could translate into cinematic works of art. Then there was this new game called chess. And chess is a wonderful game. At the exact moment you think you’ve mastered it, you quickly realize there’s an entirely new playbook to be learned. Unlike other games, chess requires a relentless mind in ways that equally generates adrenaline and emotional bursts of insanity. The case study for this type of intoxicating paranoia is, fittingly enough, the legendary Bobby Fischer.

See the 2014 film Pawn Sacrifice starring Tobey Maguire as the aforementioned Mr. Fischer.

In the spirit of attempting to climb into the mindset of a brilliant, world-class chess player, the easiest path may be for a brilliant, world-class chess player to climb into our head.

The following video will explain.

Seeing myriad moves that lead to success that few people in the world can envision is truly a gift.

What’s his hourly rate?

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Mastering the Hustle

Chess is a game that can drive anybody crazy.

Chess is also a game that reveals crazy cool moments.

One of the best scenes in Searching for Bobby Fischer was when young Josh returned to the park with his mom to reunite with street hustler Vinnie. In this moment, Josh rediscovered his passion of playing fast and playing for fun.

Speed chess does that because it forces you to react and not overthink the labyrinth of complexities on the checkered board. You prepare as best you can, go out and give it your best shot.

And it’s a genuine thrill to witness it, especially when a chess grandmaster casually sits down for a game with someone running his mouth a tad too much.

This video was recorded and posted by chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley. Here’s his video description:

“I was schooled by the best hustlers back in the day! This was actually in Washington Square Park where the late great Vinnie Livermore used to beat my ass at that same table!”

Check that out, mate.

Happy Monday!

Checkmate: Movie soundtrack edition.

Every amazing movie needs an amazing soundtrack. While Josh Waitzkin was left searching for Bobby Fischer (in the literal sense), director Steven Zaillian found the emotionally evocative James Horner to score his cinematic masterpiece from 1993 based on the true story of a young chess prodigy told from the perspective of a “chess parent.”

Randomly finding this movie playing last night was (and always is) an inspiring couple of hours everyone should experience.

That instrumental is fantastic…like a pawn-takes-pawn move that sets the stage for a cleverly disguised 12-move checkmate.

Have an Awesome Week!

P.S. Those fish won’t catch themselves.

Bobby Fischer’s Cold War

Relentless, unnerving, genius.

The astonishing, yet tortured story of chess mastermind Bobby Fischer is mesmerizing. A lot of it has to do with the impossibly overwhelming knowledge needed to play chess at the highest level and this is portrayed in a new trailer for Pawn Sacrifice that takes us through Fischer’s life to the Cold War showdown against┬áBoris Spassky that defined him forever. Chess is a fun and stressful game, designed with the difficulty of an epic labyrinth and the time constraints of a 100-meter sprint in a speed game. In fact, there are various time keeping methods, including one created by the aforementioned chess master himself.

Fischer, who had not played a public game since winning the world championship in 1972, patented a chess clock in 1988 that added an increment of time after a player completed a move and hit the button on top. For example, in a speed game, a player could begin with five minutes and receive an additional 10 or 15 seconds after making each move

—Encyclopedia Britannica

In life, we are constatly confronted by choices, each presenting a different path and set of consequences, good and bad. The decisions we make define who we are. Keeping this in mind, consider Fischer’s dilemma of contemplating an infinite number of options with only one correct move for each decision. And there’s a time limit, with the ramifications of moving the wrong chess piece all but likely resulting in complete disaster. As the trailer below shows, this intensity was real and raw because of his equally brilliant Soviet Union opponent.

Plus, the whole world was watching.

And just like the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game at the 1980 Winter Olympics between the United States and the Soviet Union, Bobby Fischer was also in a colossal Cold War battle against the Russians…and himself.

This movie looks as awe-inspiring as the “Bobby Fischer Trap.”

Checkmate.