Ten-year-old Aleksandr Ivaonich Luzhin, having proven too difficult for his governess, begins school. He is miserable and anti-social. The boy's father, convinced that Aleksandr will be the sort of gifted child that he writes about in his novels, is discouraged to hear academic reports indicating that his son is listless and apathetic. As the son of a famous author, Aleksandr is tormented by his peers. His misery persists until a chance encounter with a violinist introduces him to the game of chess.