The 10 Best Documentaries About Chess

Sep 17, 2023 | Best Of, Culture, Sports

As the popular board game continues to gain popularity, documentaries about chess have become incredibly popular for viewers of all ages and genres. From biopics to historical dramas, these films offer an in-depth look at how chess has evolved and shaped our world today. Here are some of the best documentaries about chess that you won’t want to miss! From the classic game of strategy to modern day competitions, two of the most notable documentaries about chess are ‘Bobby Fischer Against The World’ and ‘Chess in Havana’.


1. Chess documentary: Bobby Fischer Against The World

I take a glimpse into Bobby Fischer’s soul and I can see that he was a boy who desperately wanted to be treasured. He dedicated himself to the game of chess, an obsession which kept him alive and drove his greatness. Yet what this meant for him personally remained largely unknown to him – it is heartbreaking that he didn’t realise how much he was admired and cherished by all who knew him. Bobby Fischer was a figurehead for the chess world, embodying a tragically heroic spirit.


2. The History Of Chess: The World Chess Championship

Travel through the history of chess with The World Chess Championship. This documentary takes you back to the start of this beloved game and explores its evolution over time. Witness the most celebrated world champions like Paul Morphy, Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, and Magnus Carlsen in their rise to fame. Hear commentary from some of the greatest players of all time including Viswanathan Anand, Bruce Pandolfini, Ben Finegold, and Danny Rensch. Journey through the fascinating story of chess that spans the centuries and learn how this beloved game has evolved into a modern day phenomenon.


3. The Great Chess Movie

Fascinating drama has been behind international chess since it began. Anatoly Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer have been integral figures in the politics and psychological complexity that surrounds the game. This documentary dives into their stories to illustrate how much of an influence each person had on the international stage. From rivalries and triumphs to epic losses, the film captures these moments in a captivating way. It shows how much determination and dedication each person brought to the game, pushing it further and making international history.


4. MVL is a Chess Genius | Inside the Mind of a Genius

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is a name that will go down in history as one of the greatest chess masters ever. His genius has taken the game of chess to new heights and made him an icon around the world. We followed MVL during his time on the Grand Chess Tour in Abidjan, a tournament unlike any other seen before in Africa. It was a chance to get an up close and personal look at his incredible skills and the amazing strategies he utilizes on the board. We watched as MVL analyzed every move, evaluated each option, and made decisions in milliseconds.


5. Chess – A State of Mind

Chess is a game of strategy, wit and mind-boggling tension. Grandmaster Victor Korchnoi knew this full well – his words describing the ‘supernatural’ sensation of playing chess are still remembered today. Unfortunately, he was not always the best ambassador for the sport; he infamously insulted young player Sofia Polgar when she managed to beat him in a match. Despite such regrettable outbursts, Korchnoi was a chess genius and will never be forgotten by the tight-knit community of players around the world. Chess is an incredibly serious game, requiring immense levels of concentration from those who attempt to master it.


6. Karpov v Kasparov: The Soviet Chess Rivalry Of The USSR

The intense rivalry between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov spanned two decades, from their first match in 1984 to the fall of the USSR. Through their chess games, these two grandmasters found themselves bound together in a psychological drama that transcended time and place. It was more than just a battle for victory on the board – it was a war between the old Soviet guard and the young liberal dissidents, a face-off between two ideologies.


7. to Win at Chess – BBC Documentary | LevonFisch

Chess is one of the oldest and most beloved board games around, but few realize the deep rules and strategies that lie just beneath its simple surface. LevonFisch explores the world of chess in this BBC Documentary, offering an insightful look into how to play like a pro. Through interviews with experts, players and coaches, we gain an understanding of the nuances and strategies behind this ancient game.


8. EMPIRE STATE OF CHESS – Documentary on Chess in NYC During

Chess is a beloved pastime that has connected New Yorkers for years. In parks, squares, and tournament halls, the game of chess brings people together in an extraordinary way. But how can this age-old tradition survive amidst a pandemic? Empire State of Chess is a documentary that examines how New York’s most interesting grandmasters, club owners, street players, and pawn pushers are keeping the love of chess alive against all odds.


9. The Love for Wood (chess documentary 1979 – ENG subs)

Chess has always been a popular game – it’s no surprise that in 1979, Dutch chessplayers were taking the world by storm. In The Love for Wood, we take a look at some of the biggest names of the era and get a glimpse into their enthusiasm for the game. Featuring Jan Timman, Hans Ree, Piet Hein Donner and Max Euwe, this documentary takes us back to a time of grand strategies and thrilling wins.


10. Capablanca || Life and Games || Chess Documentary

Jose Raul Capablanca was a chess grandmaster and one of the greatest players of all time. His life and games are an interesting example of how to be successful in such a complex game as chess. This documentary takes a deep dive into his three most iconic games, analyzing each move for deeper insight. The documentary traces back to the roots of Capablanca’s career, uncovering the strategies and tactics that enabled him to become a legendary chess grandmaster. From there, it dives into his three most famous games:

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David B