Ian McDonald‘s documentary, Algorithms, sheds light on the issues faced by a section of society most people don’t even know exists – Blind chess players in India.

It does this through the stories of Darpan, Sai Krishna and Anant – three young boys who wish to be successful chess players, while trying to overcome their disability. They are mentored by Charudatta Jadhav, a visually-challenged former chess legend who has dedicated himself to the cause of finding and training the next champion.

The real competition these young boys face is not their opponents, but their handicap. Chess is widely perceived as a visual game. However, Algorithms shows that the visual aspect is just a part of chess. It explores everything else that shapes the game – physical, mental and emotional. In the process, the movie opens up an entirely new world for the viewer.

The documentary, shot in black and white, perfectly mirrors the game that lies at its core. Though this works for some scenes, it seems to dull the effect at times. The camerawork though, is brilliant. Algorithms never seems like a highly stylized film but its authenticity shines through in every shot.

Algorithms‘ highlight is its unique nature. We’ve all seen a fair share of sporting and competition-based documentaries; none of them have focussed on such an overlooked section of society. The documentary doesn’t attempt to get too emotional or informative. Whether that works in its favour is for the viewer to decide.

What goes against the movie is the nature of the game it follows. Chess might not be an exciting game to play or watch for all. It is a relatively niche game, which might make it difficult to many to connect with Algorithms. It could be seen as lacking the thrills most sporting documentaries have.

Why should you watch this film?
If you an avid chess lover and wish to see the game in a completely different light, Algorithms is the perfect documentary to watch this weekend.