The movie is based on the life & times of David MacEnulty who taught schoolchildren of the Bronx Community Elementary School 70 to play at competition level, eventually winning New York City and the New York State Chess Championships. The screenplay portrays whistle-blowing and a mid-life crisis that combine to remove Richard Mason (played by Ted Danson) from his old job & current lifestyle. He becomes a substitute teacher and is assigned to a fourth-grade class in a South Bronx school. In the class are students with parents who are drug addicts or in jail or just scrambling to pay the bills. Few of them see a purpose in school other than meeting society's requirements, and he struggles, mostly in vain, to reach them. Then a student whose father is in jail sees Mason in the park playing a simultaneous exhibition, and beating fourteen opponents at once. He asks to learn the game. One thing leads to another, and soon the entire class is interested in the game. Mason convinces them that ...
Did You Know?
It took producer Diane Nabatoff 5 years to get this movie made. See more
In the big close-up in Jimmy's game at the Nationals, he waits a while, then moves the pawn in front of his Queen, which is correctly placed on a white square. The board has been set up wrongly, though, so the Queen should be on his left. A later shot shows the King and Queen in their correct positions. See more
The Queen is the most powerful piece on the board, the catch is everyone wants to kill her.