How about a nice game of chess?
March 23, 2014 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Chess has been played in a lot of movies. I mean, a lot. Some of the more notable matches include Ron Weasley kicking ass, HAL stealing from Schlage, a Bond villain stealing from Spassky, and Death just screwing with the audience. Then there is Thomas Crown, who might just have been named for a promising young British player who tragically died at the age of eighteen.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (29 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
The famous (though only effective against novices) Swedish defense.
posted by juv3nal at 6:30 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I believe you meant Ronnie "The Bear" Weasel.
posted by edeezy at 6:30 PM on March 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Here's one, which I mostly post because I love watching Philip Seymour Hoffman drink a cup of coffee.
posted by pjenks at 6:32 PM on March 23, 2014


Computer Chess is pretty great. And kinda weird.
posted by naju at 6:48 PM on March 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Lexx once spent a whole episode on a single game... it may have been based on a real game, but was still highly plot-relevant. ... To the extent that Lexx had a plot, at least.
posted by DataPacRat at 7:36 PM on March 23, 2014


There's a Cowboy Bebop episode with a senile chessmaster terrorist.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:45 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


These clips are wonderfully free of the cliche ending where one player proudly exhorts "check!" only to be met with a smug "checkmate!" on the responding move. While technically not impossible (I think), that scenario is far too contrived to happen by chance, making it completely unbelievable as a "real" match.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:56 PM on March 23, 2014


Harmony feels small in their presence and decides to split hairs with The Bear...

I could go on, but edeezy has us covered.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:23 PM on March 23, 2014


These clips are wonderfully free of the cliche ending where one player proudly exhorts "check!" only to be met with a smug "checkmate!" on the responding move.

Does that actually happen (in tv/movies I mean). I don't think I've ever seen that.
posted by juv3nal at 8:53 PM on March 23, 2014


And I just remembered that even with all the classic examples of chess as a metaphor I'd say all the scenes in Fresh are my favorite.
posted by edeezy at 8:59 PM on March 23, 2014


Does that actually happen

I haven't seen one for many years now, so hopefully it's because word has gotten out. It's also kind of difficult to google for, but it looks like TV tropes backs me up, and has some check-followed-by-checkmate examples:
An especially unlikely form is where one of the players announces 'check', directly followed by the other player countering it with a 'checkmate'.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:21 PM on March 23, 2014


I second edeezy. Fresh is my favorite chess related movie,
posted by hoodrich at 10:03 PM on March 23, 2014


Computer Chess is pretty great. And kinda weird.

An alternate title would have been "Worst DEFCON Ever"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:04 PM on March 23, 2014


Each life is a game of chess that went to hell on the seventh move, and now the flukey play is cramped and slow, a dream of constraint and cross-purpose, with each move forced, all pieces pinned and skewered and zugzwanged*.
. . . But here and there, we see these figures who appear to run on the true lines, and they are terrible examples. They're rich, usually.

-- Martin Amis, Money, 1984

*a situation in which the obligation to make a move in one's turn is a serious, often decisive, disadvantage.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 10:11 PM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Then there's the literal and figurative chess games throughout the Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown series.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have become convinced that stagehands intentionally put the board down oriented wrong, with a dark square in the right corner, when filming chess scenes on TV or movies. Possibly as a superstition, possibly to show that the director is a fool. If they guessed, they'd get it right half the time.....
posted by thelonius at 4:27 AM on March 24, 2014


The chess scene at the end of Blade Runner between J.F. Sebastian (with prompting from Roy Batty) and Tyrell always bothered me. How could Tyrell not see the checkmate coming in a couple of moves? Any moderately competant player can predict ahead several moves, let alone a genius like Tyrell. Possibly my favourite film ever, but the chess scene grates on my nerves every time.
posted by drnick at 4:54 AM on March 24, 2014


How could Tyrell not see the checkmate coming in a couple of moves?

It happens to the best
posted by thelonius at 5:01 AM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have become convinced that stagehands intentionally put the board down oriented wrong, with a dark square in the right corner, when filming chess scenes on TV or movies.

It's not unheard of for some footage to just get flipped left-to-right because the director felt that the sequence of movements depicted worked better one way or the other.

MeFi has discussed white-on-the-right before, so I probably shouldn't make a big derail out of this, but the rules of chess can be stated in a way that is agnostic to the orientation of the board, and in any case there is a trivial 1:1 mapping between games played in the "wrong" orientation and games played in your preferred orientation. The graph of available moves and states does not change at all when the board is flipped left-to-right. White-on-the-right feels better for you because you have accumulated experience looking at boards in that orientation. It does not affect the complexity or depth of the game; it just violates convention.
posted by Jpfed at 5:19 AM on March 24, 2014



Very funny chess game in "bad date" from Christopher Guest's The Big Picture A young man awaiting his date is pitted against the girl's father. The father has all the power pieces, the boy has all pawns. The father bites the head off one of the pawns... and so on.
posted by synthesizer at 5:39 AM on March 24, 2014


Check.

Checkmate!

Where? I can't--

Here! Diagonally.

Pretty sneaky, sis.
posted by Naberius at 6:24 AM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Later. Let's play Global Thermonuclear War.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:48 AM on March 24, 2014


Very funny chess game in "bad date" from Christopher Guest's The Big Picture

The movie with the square-dancing thimbles?
posted by ovvl at 7:54 AM on March 24, 2014


I much enjoyed the chess game/investigation/boxing match scene near the end of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:42 AM on March 24, 2014


These clips are wonderfully free of the cliche ending where one player proudly exhorts "check!" only to be met with a smug "checkmate!" on the responding move. While technically not impossible (I think),

Via the TV Tropes page linked above, a real-life example happened in Anand-Fritz 1992, which ends 37... Qxb3+ 38. Bxb3#. But even that's a somewhat unusual example, as Anand has a forced mate after 30... Kc7, and everything after that is just an artifact of the computer's tendency, when it sees that its opponent has a forced mate against it, to delay the checkmate by as many moves as possible.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:15 AM on March 24, 2014


that's the computer version of tipping over the board
posted by thelonius at 11:40 AM on March 24, 2014


... where one player proudly exhorts "check!" only to be met with a smug "checkmate!"...
It's weird enough for me to hear players actually say "check" or "checkmate". I never hear it done in tournaments. It's kind of insulting, and if your opponent doesn't realize he's in check it would be beneficial not to mention it.
posted by MtDewd at 2:31 PM on March 24, 2014


i played in uscf-sanctioned tournaments as a kid/younger man, and i would say "check" at appropriate junctures, but never "checkmate", i would just stretch my palm over both buttons of the clock, stopping it, and give the opponent a big, shit-eating grin.

particularly in childhood, adult opponents would shake hands, then leave the room as fast as they could, because they knew i was going up to the tournament director's desk and announcing loudly in childhood soprano "board 43, i just crushed wozniakowski!"
posted by bruce at 4:29 PM on March 24, 2014


Yes Ovvl, same movie. Here's the scene.
posted by synthesizer at 9:55 PM on March 25, 2014


« Older Humanity needs bots to save the world's knowledge...   |   Dust-Devil + Tumbleweeds Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments