The timing of Benjamin Ree's documentary Magnus is pure genius. What can be better than watching a film about Magnus Carlson while the 2016 World Chess Championship is being contested at the South Seaport in New York City?
A vivid portrait of the 25-year-old world chess champion's life, talent and dedication, the film offers a glimpse into his background. A child prodigy, Magnus' incredible mind and memory are vividly displayed. At age 13, he drew with world champion Gary Kasparov. Albert Einstein, after discussions with the Russian chess great Mikhail Botvinnik immediately saw the infinite variations in chess and was puzzled why Botvinnik's great mind put all this thought in this game. After seeing this film I had the same thought about Magnus. Why didn't Magnus put his amazing mind to work curing cancer instead of touring and playing the eccentrics and other greats addicted to the game?
While the film does not illuminate such questions, it illustrates the tension and excitement at world class chess. It puts you right there at the events from Magnus' lucky win at the candidates' matches, to his winning the world championship at age 23.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.