Edward Zwick‘s Pawn Sacrifice (Bleecker Street, 9.18) is a fact-based biographical thriller about the genius-level Jedi skills and curious obsessions of legendary chess master Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and particularly Fischer’s world-famous 1972 face-off with Russian champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in Iceland. I purposely didn’t research Fischer before seeing the film late this afternoon; I just wanted Maguire’s performance to take me somewhere or not. It did, all right. It’s not the same kind of portrayal of mental dysfunction as Russell Crowe‘s Oscar-winning portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind (i.e., no imaginary characters), but it’s in the same general ballpark. Maguire is more than convincing; he seems consumed, possessed. Schreiber’s Spassky also nails it nicely. The film depicts a period in which Fischer (who died in 2008 at age 64) was half unhinged and half holding it together. The screening happened at West Hollywood’s London hotel; a reception followed.

Pawn Sacrifice costars Michael Stuhlbarg, star Tobey Maguire at post-screening reception at London hotel — Sunday, 8.23, 6:05 pm.