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film review

Tobey Maguire attractively captures the fragility and paranoia of Bobby Fischer, a cocky, fatherless Brooklyn boy who grows up to take on chess champ Boris Spassky.

The pawn of Pawn Sacrifice is Bobby Fischer, the American chess genius and world-class weirdo who in 1972 was thrown to the wolves as a Cold War weapon against the Soviet Union.

In Edward Zwick's fine-looking but safe biopic (which premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival) Tobey Maguire attractively captures the fragility and paranoia of Fischer, a cocky, fatherless Brooklyn boy who grows up to take on chess champ Boris Spassky (played convincingly by a Russian-tongue-mastering Liev Schreiber) in a superpower showdown in Finland.

Although the zeitgeist-capturing film handsomely dramatizes elements of Liz Garbus's excellent 2011 documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World, Fischer is still an enigma at the film's end.

A white bishop on a black square – how did he get there?