Stanley Kubrick

Stanley KubrickThe great Stanley Kubrick is best known for the movies he directed, such as: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, and Spartacus. He was born in the Bronx, in 1928, and his father taught him chess at the age of twelve. He quickly aquired the skills of the game and later on augmented his income by playing chess at the Marshall, in Manhattan Clubs—and in Washington Square, proving to be one of the finest experts there. In remembrance of Stanley, his friend Sydney Pollack recalled the following:

“He was a chess player, a chess hustler, really, and on top of that was a great photographer. He would combine these two in his filmmaking in the way of examining every conceivable route. He had a chess player’s mind … That’s why it was so maddening to work with him as an actor, because it was not at all uncommon to do a hundred takes. You would wonder, “Why in God’s name is he doing this? How can he find something different after take 60 or 65?” The actors found it tortuous, but you know it produced something in terms of behavior that just doesn’t get produced otherwise. I would be there and watch take 60, take 70, take 80, and things would change. You would cry sometimes, just weep – something would happen! He was maddening in his thoroughness, obsessive; it would push the performance out to the other end … I don’t know what he was looking for, but it worked for him.” (by Chris Ingui, The GW Hatchet)

Several of Kubrick’s works have scripted chess scenes. The first one is from the 1955 film, “The Killing”, which is about a race-track heist to steal $2 million dollars. Film Clip from "The Killing"In the featured clip you will see Johnny Clay, who has just been released from Alcatraz, look up an old friend of his at the Academy of Chess and Checkers. The academy was a mock up of the 42nd Street Chess and Checker Parlor in New York City where Stanley was  a regular.

Kubrick was quoted as saying, “Chess helps you develop patience and discipline in choosing between alternatives at a time when an impulsive decision seems very attractive.”

He also said, “Chess teaches you to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good and it trains you to think objectively when you’re in trouble.”

Self Portrait

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