Chess Movies on Netflix

If you have Netflix, then I wanted to let you know about two movies and two documentaries that are available to watch.

Queen to Play

The film stars Sandrine Bonnaire as a French chambermaid on the island of Corsica. She develops an interest in chess. She has been cleaning the house of an American doctor (played by Kevin Kline in his first French-speaking role), and he begins helping her practice and improve. She must deal with her growing fascination with the game and with her husband and teenaged daughter.

This movie is in French with English subtitles. Don’t let that scare you…it’s a wonderful movie.

Queen to Play (original title Joueuse, literally the feminine form of “player”) is a 2009 French-German film directed by Caroline Bottaro.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 67%, Audience 71%
IMDB: 6.6/10 stars

Brooklyn Castle


BROOKLYN CASTLE tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country. The film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives as well as on the chessboard, and is as much about the sting of their losses as it is about the anticipation of their victories.

A good documentary, directed by Katie Dellamaggiore, about Independent School 318 in Brooklyn. Not quite as good as I had hoped (based on it’s hype), but still worth watching.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 98%, Audience 82%
IMDB: 6.7 stars

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine

In 1997, chess champion Garry Kasparov goes head-to-head against IBM’s computer Deep Blue and accuses IBM of cheating its way to victory. Interviews with Kasparov, his manager and members of the Deep Blue team illuminate the controversy.

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine is a 2003 documentary film by Vikram Jayanti about the match between Garry Kasparov, the highest rated chess player in history (at the time) and the World Champion for 15 years (1985–2000), and Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer created by IBM. It was coproduced by Alliance Atlantis and the National Film Board of Canada.

Kasparov had beaten Deep Blue, a computer designed specifically to beat him, in a match played in 1996. He agreed to offer a rematch the following year. Kasparov won the first game of the rematch easily with the white pieces. In the second game, Kasparov was struggling with the black pieces, but set a trap that most computers fall for. Deep Blue didn’t fall for it and won to level the match, although Kasparov and Deep Blue both missed a perpetual check that could have given Kasparov a draw. The next three matches ended in draws, with Kasparov appearing to weaken psychologically. Deep Blue went on to win the decisive sixth game, marking the first time in history that a computer defeated the World Champion in a match of several games.

From this experience, particularly the second game of the match, Kasparov accused the IBM team of cheating. He suspected that a human player was used during the games to improve the strategic strength of the computer. As a metaphor for this suspicion, the film weaves in the story of the Turk, a hoax involving a chess-playing automaton built in the eighteenth century, but secretly operated by human beings. The film also implies that Deep Blue’s heavily promoted victory was a ploy by IBM to boost the company’s market value.

I have not seen this one yet, but I’m looking forward to watching it.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 76%, Audience 52%
IMDB: 6.7/10 stars


Aaron Carlson dreams of becoming a lawyer, even though his family insists it is impossible. At a mock trial, a judge offers an extraordinary opportunity: win a national chess tournament and be admitted to the university of his choice.

I have not seen this movie, so I can’t “recommend” it. Looking at the trailer and some of the reviews this is not a great film. I’ll be watching it to see how it portrays the game of chess. If you’ve seen it already, please leave a comment on what you thought about it. Oh, and this is a “christian” movie, but reviews say it’s not very overt about it.

IMDB: 4.5/10 stars


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