The 11 Worst Chessboard Photos

The 11 Worst Chessboard Photos

| 133 | Fun & Trivia

The Internet is full of seemingly elegant chess pictures, whether they are stock photographs or staged poses by individuals who want to appear interesting and cerebral.

Unfortunately, the chessboard positions in many of these photographs do not stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. Boards are set up the wrong way, and pieces are placed on incorrect squares. Impossible or highly improbable positions are the norm. 

Take note of these 11 worst offenders of our chess sensibilities, and make sure you avoid their mistakes when setting up your own chessboard photos.

Share your own favorite chessboard fail photos with us in the comments or on Facebook   

11. Flooring It


Not only is the board oriented the wrong way, with a dark square on the bottom-right, and the king and queen on the wrong squares, but the entire game also appears to be taking place on the floor.

The woman playing White might be gazing lovingly at her opponent now, but how long before the back and neck cramps set in?

10. Usain Bolt Pulling a Fast One?

via instagram

None of this picture seems to make sense. The board is oriented incorrectly, but that's the least of our concerns. Usain Bolt, the world's fastest human, appears to be playing without a king. I guess that's one way to speed up the game. Finally, all pieces and pawns on the board improbably reside on dark squares.

It's that last clue that tells us what's really going on here: Bolt is simply using chess pieces to play a game of checkers.

9. One is the Loneliest Number


It's not uncommon to play chess alone, whether it's online live chess, against a computer engine, or a thoughtful correspondence game. Even then, it's customary to play with two sets of chess pieces, an army each for White and Black. This stock photo model, however, appears to be playing against himself with only one color on the board.

Even his powerfully centralized queen can't save him from the existential pointlessness of this game, or the incorrect light square on his bottom-left.

8. Unusual Opening Move

via imgur

This beautiful model is playing with equally beautiful wooden chess pieces on a gorgeous inlaid chess table. What could be wrong with this picture? Nothing, except her choice of opening moves: the unorthodox 1. pawn on h2 to g3. At least it opens a nice file for the rook. 

7. The Impossible Pawn

via facebook

This serious-looking player appears to be deep in thought at the chessboard. Perhaps he is trying to figure out how his pawn ended up on the first rank. Or what happened to the rest of his pieces. 

6. Spurring On his Opponent

via twitter 

The professional basketball player Matt Bonner is a forward on the San Antonio Spurs and a two-time NBA champion, winning titles in 2007 and 2014. His chess championship hopes, however, are fairly dim.

Not only is the board rotated the wrong way, but it appears Bonner is either playing backwards, or recommending his youthful opponent play 1.b3, which is not the strongest opening move -- despite Bobby Fischer's perfect record with the opening (5-0 in international play).  

5. Redundant Bishops

via masterfile

This stock photo seems particularly ill-conceived. It's got the obligatory incorrect board orientation, and depicts a player knocking over his opponent's king, which seldom happens in serious play. Look closer, though, and you'll find something even more wrong. Since White's king is on a light square while it's being "taken" by Black's bishop, the capturing bishop must have come from a light square itself.

But Black already has another light-squared bishop, a few squares away. Either this position is the result of the craziest case of pawn underpromotion ever conceived, or the board was just set up haphazardly. I am betting on the latter.

4. A Little Too Much Fun

 via Seth Browarnik of 

Here we see the runway models Gabrielle Union and Chanel Iman with musical artist Karmin having a blast playing on a giant chessboard (set up the wrong way, of course). I can't speak to the evaluation of the position, but I am pretty sure you're not supposed to hold your knight by its mouth, or swing your queen like a baseball bat.

If you want to see a more plausible game on a life-sized board, watch IM Daniel Rensch take on GM Alejandro Ramirez in a giant-piece bullet game played recently in St. Louis. 

3. For the Dogs


Whoever set up this photograph managed the not-insignificant challenge of getting a dog to sit still on a chair in front of a chessboard. But that's about the only thing the photographer got right. Both kings and queens, and half of the knights and bishops in this picture start out on the wrong square. Only the rooks, pawns, and dog are in the correct position.

2. Cat Got Your Rook


It's not clear if this cat wants to move the rook, or eat it. Since a rook is another name for a crow, it's not surprising the cat is clutching the rook here like it would a captured bird. It's also quite nebulous how a white pawn ended up on the b1 square -- maybe it was running away from the cat. 

1. Never Give Up?


This motivational photograph is supposed to inspire us to fight on in the face of insurmountable odds, but actually this position seems eminently resignable. Give up, and see if you can get a rematch.  

Share your most ridiculous staged chess photos in the comments and on Facebook


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