Why do you see a chess set in a lot of movies or tv shows?

Why do you see a chess set in a lot of movies or tv shows?

Next time you’re watching a movie, remember this article and look carefully. There’s a very high chance that you will see a chess set in that movie. It might be in the background, shown for a split second or it might be the main premise for the film or the show. Chess being one of the oldest and most difficult games ever, is also a very aesthetic and decorative object. It’s mostly used to add some sophistication to the scene. We will list some of the films and shows that feature this majestic game:

Spiderhead (2022)

Netflix made a movie (directed by Joseph Kosinski) based on the dystopian short story “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Saunders. Two convicts (Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett) living in a near-future society grapple with their pasts while trapped in a facility that allows prisoners to reduce their sentence time by volunteering for experiments using emotion-altering drugs, which are run by prison overseer Steve Abnesti played by Chris Hemsworth. You can see prisoners playing chess in this scene from the trailer.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

Based on a novel of the same name, this seven episodes mini series from Netflix caused a whirlwind and sales of chess sets skyrocketed in the world. The Queen’s Gambit broke a lot of streaming records and for a few months chess became ‘cool’ again.

Pawn Sacrifice (2014)

American chess legend Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and Soviet Grandmaster Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) capture the world’s fascination with their intense battle of wills and strategy during the 1972 World Chess Championship. This movie is always seen as an inaccurate picture of Fischer’s life but still worth to watch.


In this very funny scene from Friends, Phoebe and Joey are ‘playing’ chess!

Magnus (2016)

Magnus Carlsen, Norwegian chess prodigy, becomes a grandmaster at age 13 and world champion in 2013. 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty play an intense game of chess on this beautiful marble board with some wooden chess pieces. 

X-Men (2000)

In this scene where Professor X and Magneto are playing with a glass chess set, they are discussing the war between humans and mutants.

The Big Bang Theory

We can see the gang playing chess in many episodes in this very popular tv show. Here are two scenes; Sheldon and Leonard playing 3D chess and Sheldon, Leonard and Howard play three person chess.

Queen of Katwe (2016)

A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway are playing a heist mastermind and the investigator in this movie. This chess game symbolizes the chase between the two characters.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

In this famous last scene, Magneto tries to move the chess piece after losing his powers. This scene shows he still has a will to fight and did not give up.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Another scene where Charles and Erik talk about helping mutants during a game of chess. Chess scenes in X-Men movies are symbolic of the friendship and war between Professor X and Magneto. 

Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

This movie was based on the book “Searching for Bobby Fischer” by Fred Waitzkin. This scene opens with the kid saying “Want to play?” and goes on with a two minutes speed game.

Blade Runner (1982)

In this dystophian movie, we see a chess game between humans and androids. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

In this first movie of the Harry Potter series, the three characters are trying to solve one puzzle after another to get to the Philosopher’s Stone. In this scene they have to play ‘a real wizard’s chess’. Ron plays a knight and sacrifices himself so that his friend Harry can mate. This chess set was so popular, they made a product which you can buy. 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick is a chess enthusiast and used chess in a lot of his movies. In this scene, the astronaut plays a chess game with the ship’s computer, HAL. 

From Russia with Love (1963)

In this James Bond movie with Sean Connery, we are watching a chess game between Czechoslovakia and Canada.  

The Seventh Seal (1957)

A knight faces death in human form and challenges him to a game of chess.

#chess #movies #tvshows #cinema #spiderhead #netflix #thequeensgambit

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