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Chess in mainstream movies

  • #21
    forkypinner wrote:

    CGI short from pixar b4, I believe, toy story?

     That is actually at the beginning of A Bug's Life.  I don't recall the name of the short film, but it is fantastic.

  • #22
    salamillion wrote:


    I just remembered 3-D chess from Star Trek with Spock.  I remember a kid he beat used mental powers to melt a piece

    Also an episode where Spock proves the ship's computers were tampered with because he was able to beat the computer at chess - a program he wrote himself! 

    (the guy who melted the pieces was Charles - a kid they picked up on another planet who had mental powers and was just learning how to handle stress.)

  • #23

    The movie 'Knight Moves' about a Chess grandmaster.

    One episode of Columbo - about a murder of a competitor during world chess championship.

  • #24

    chess enigne?

  • #25
    PKG wrote:

    Is there an old James Bond movie with a Boris Spassky game? Someone who knows the title?

    Possibly 'From Russia with Love' which features a world championship match right at the start of the film. A SPECTRE agent is playing the world champion, gets a message from No1 to report to headquarters and promptly makes a brilliant move to win the title. That is the only chess game I know of in the Bond films (I have the complete set). Didn't know it was a famous game though.

  • #26
    aikozep wrote:
    forkypinner wrote:

    CGI short from pixar b4, I believe, toy story?

     That is actually at the beginning of A Bug's Life.  I don't recall the name of the short film, but it is fantastic.

    The Pixar short is known as Geri's Game and is loosly based on "The Royal Game" a novellete by Stephan Zweig.  It can be found on "A Bug's Life" DVD the Pixar Shorts DVD or downloaded from itunes for $2.00

  • #27

    That chess scene at the beginning of 'From Russia with love' was the reason i started playing chess! i was about 6 and i thought they looked so cool! i wish i could watch that scene again but i can't find it on youtube :-( does anyone know where i can watch the chess scene? i cant download the whole film because of my connection.

  • #28

    what about two weeks notice? are we all so quick to forget sandra bullock and hugh of grant? for shame!

    'the game of chess is like a sword fight; you must think first... before you move.'

  • #29

    The Luzhin Defense is another one.


  • #30

    "The Revolver" by Guy Ritchie (a recent one) is a must see then. The plot is based on combining chess and con art, which creates a sharp and thrilling thriller...

    A quote from the movie: "You know what's so elegant about this game? You never know where the enemy is...".

    In general, another Guy Ritchie sleek movie.

  • #31
  • #32
    forkypinner wrote:

    CGI short from pixar b4, I believe, toy story?

    It was Geri's Game. See my blog post for video

  • #33
    salamillion wrote:

    Alas, these are the only chess examples I remember from the main stream TV and movies.  Surely there are others.  Add them here...

    I saw this Guy Ritchie film not long ago. It was very good and starred Jason Statham:


  • #34
    Keyif wrote:
    forkypinner wrote:

    CGI short from pixar b4, I believe, toy story?

    It was Geri's Game. See my blog post for video

    One of the classic shorts.

  • #35

    Whenever I think of chess in movies I think of Bogie in "Casablanca". Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him.


    It is a little known fact that Bogart was an excellent chess player, almost of master strength. Before he made any money from acting, he would hustle players for dimes and quarters, playing in New York parks and at Coney Island. The chess scenes in Casablanca had not been in the original script, but were put in at his insistence. A chess position from one of his correspondence games appears in the movie, although the image is a little blurred. He achieved a draw in a simultaneous exhibition given in 1955 at Beverly Hills by the famous chess Grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky and also played against George Koltanowski in San Francisco in 1952 (Koltanowski played blindfolded but still won in 41 moves).[120]

    Bogart was a USCF tournament director and active in the California State Chess Association, and a frequent visitor to the Hollywood chess club. In 1945, the cover of the June-July issue of Chess Review showed Bogart playing with Charles Boyer, as Lauren Bacall (who also played) looks on. In June 1945, in an interview in the magazine Silver Screen, when asked what things in life mattered most to him, he replied that chess was one of his main interests. He added that he played chess almost daily, especially between film shootings. He loved the game all his life.[121][/quote]

  • #36

    Last night while watching The Exorcist, the restored edition, I noticed a chess board in Father Damien's room, after the party and the urine (what a way to kill a party). This was of course before all the fun started but I thought it was interesting to see this there.

    The Exorcist III has a chess scene too.

    See my upcoming blog with the picture and diagram of the board.

  • #37

    Here is all the information about the chess scene in 'From Russia with love' and the famous game that they use in the movie....


    From Leningrad with Love

    The movie Nigel mentions, From Russia with Love, was produced in 1963. One of the villains is Kronsteen, played by Vladek Sheybal, master plotter for the terror organisation SPECTRE. Kronsteen is also a world-class chess player who, when asked if his plan would be successful, replies: "It will be. I've anticipated every possible variation of countermove." And Bond's colleague, the Turkish operative Kerim Bey, says of him: "These Russians are great chess players. When they wish to execute a plot, they execute it brilliantly. The game is planned minutely, the gambits of the enemy are provided for."

    In the famous chess scene at the beginning of the movie we see Kronsteen playing the Canadian McAdams in an "International Grandmaster Championship". The score is 11½–11½. The position on the board is the following:

    Kronsteen – McAdams, From Russia with Love, 1963

    Here Kronsteen gives his opponent a long glare and then plays 1.Nxe5+ (as you can see in the picture above). He ominously says "check" while the move is displayed for the audience on a large demonstration board. McAdams nervously plays 1...Kh7, after which Kronsteen smiles and plays 2.Qe4+.

    McAdams is horrified and knocks over his king as a sign of resignation, muttering "Congratulations sir, that was a brilliant coup." The audience bursts into applause as Kronsteen leaves the room to get on with his evil plottings.

    The reason McAdams resigned is clear: after 2...Kh8 3.Rxf8+ Qxf8 (or 3...Rxf8) White wins prettily with 4.Ng6+ Kh7 5.Nxf8+ Kh8 6.Qh7 mate. 2...g6 is not much better, since 3.Rf7+ wins the queen.

    The position used in From Russia with Love is very realistic, the combination quite beautiful, except for the fact that McAdams could have probably drawn with 1...Ne6 (instead of 1...Kh7??). So where did this position come from?

    Nigel is right, it was from a game Boris Spassky had played three years earlier, against David Bronstein in Leningrad ("Bronstein", "Kronsteen" – get it?). It is the famous King's Gambit brilliancy. There is however a slight difference to the Bond game.

    Spassky,B - Bronstein,D [C36], URS-ch27 Leningrad, 1960
    1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Bd6 5.Nc3 Ne7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3 Nd7 8.0-0 h6 9.Ne4 Nxd5 10.c4 Ne3 11.Bxe3 fxe3 12.c5 Be7 13.Bc2 Re8 14.Qd3 e2 15.Nd6 Nf8 16.Nxf7 exf1Q+ 17.Rxf1 Bf5 18.Qxf5 Qd7 19.Qf4 Bf6 20.N3e5 Qe7 21.Bb3 Bxe5.

    This position is identical to the one in the Bond movie, except that White has two pawns in the center. Spassky, like Kronsteen, did indeed play 22.Nxe5+, and Bronstein did reply 22...Kh7, only to resign after 23.Qe4+, for the same reasons given above. But unlike McAdams Bronstein did not blunder with 22...Kh7. The reason is that after 22...Ne6, the refutation of the Kronsteen combination, White can play 23.Ng6 (or 23.Qe4 and then Ng6) and win the black Ne6, e.g. 23...Qg5 24.Qe4 followed by Bxe6+.

  • #38

    Another interesting 'on topic' article.....

    Why do the movies love chess?


    By Finlo Rohrer
    BBC News Magazine

    The late Ingmar Bergman's film the Seventh Seal helped cement his reputation as a cerebral director, and might explain why chess is such an enduring theme for film makers.

    In the Seventh Seal a Swedish knight returns from the crusades to find his home country ravaged by tragedy and is soon locked in a game of chess with death.

    Without giving much away, it's a fairly intense game.

    Bergman's arthouse favourite is perhaps the most notorious example of chess on celluloid, but there are hundreds and hundreds of others. From the brainiest to the schlockiest, one of the movie world's favourite devices is chess.

    Humphrey Bogart plays chess
    Humphrey Bogart was Hollywood's strongest player

    And among the chess-playing fraternity there's a whole subculture of "chess in the movies" discussion, with a number of dedicated websites, and Bob Basalla's book Chess in the Movies, providing exhaustive lists stretching up to 2,000 titles.

    Perhaps the second best known chess scene is in the Thomas Crown Affair, where Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway enjoy a romantically-charged game.

    Satyajit Ray's the Chess Players is another arthouse classic, while 2000's Luzhin Defence had a grandmaster as its central character.

    But for many chess aficionados, the best example of the game has to be in the second James Bond film, From Russia With Love, where the Spectre agent Kronsteen ruthlessly beats the Canadian master McAdams.

    Plotting moves

    This fictional struggle was based on a real and much-discussed game between Boris Spassky and David Bronstein - who inspired the name Kronsteen despite being the loser in the real-life game - in Leningrad in 1960.

    Grandmaster, writer and chess entrepreneur Raymond Keene says it is easily his favourite chess scene.

    "It leaves off two of the pawns on the queen-side but the way they stage it in the movie is really magnificent, the giant chessboards and the 'Venice' set. When I try and arrange a chess tournament I'm aiming for that. The position itself is very well chosen."

    The Chess Players
    Blade Runner
    Seventh Seal
    From Russia With Love
    Chess Fever
    Thomas Crown Affair

    And the chess scene perfectly sets up the character of the evil Kronsteen. He is a chess master so he is someone who plots every move in great detail and thinks a long way ahead.

    "Kronsteen works for Spectre. He's an evil genius of vast cunning but he is defeated by Bond's British bravura, attacking each problem as it comes.

    "I feel flattered that we chess grandmasters are regarded as geniuses," Keene adds

    And the use in From Russia With Love certainly gives us a clue as to the nature of Hollywood's relationship with chess.

    Aficionado woe

    Hollywood is a place often chided for being disproportionately full of airheads, and movie-makers therefore use chess to add gravitas into movies. And it's gravitas that comes with a bit of interaction. Illustrating the cleverness of your baddie by showing him with his head in an encyclopaedia is not quite so engaging.


    But for the "chess in movies" enthusiasts there are problems. Many positions are wrongly set-up with pieces in places they cannot be. Characters playing are always saying "check" to illustrate a dramatic point. But most of all aficionados like to sniff at the regularity with which the board has a black square on the right. In chess the board is always set up with the white square on the right.

    Malcolm Pein, who was once asked to devise a chess game for an EastEnders scene, says the mistakes can be annoying, but there are still many chess scenes to love.

    "Every time a chess board appears a million chess fans squeal 'the boards the wrong way round'."


    Alec Guinness plays chess
    Movie chess sets are often excessively elaborate

    Sometimes chess is in a movie because a star or director is a player. Humphrey Bogart was reputed to be at the top end of amateur players, and suggested a chess scene for Casablanca. And Stanley Kubrick was so taken with chess that it features in The Killing, Lolita and 2001 and alluded to the game in Paths of Glory.

    "The best scenes are where there is some tension between the protagonists. Humphrey Bogart has a special place in my affections because he did love chess. The board was definitely the right way round in Casablanca," Pein adds.

    The chess authorities have tried to capitalise on the movies to recruit new players, such as when the game was heavily featured in a Harry Potter movie.

    And the fans like most the movies - such as From Russia With Love - that at least attempt to use a real game. Blade Runner features a game based on Anderssen against Kieseritzky in London in 1851, known to some as the Immortal Game, and 1925's Chess Fever which featured Cuban world champion Jose Raul Capablanca playing a champion.

    Lonely men
    Evil geniuses
    Romantic interaction
    Planning ahead
    Achievement through struggle

    Prospero's Books is said to allude to "the Game of the Century" between Donald Byrne and a young Bobby Fischer in 1956.

    And ultimately, chess fans love the movies, because they add a glamour that chess struggles to find on its own.

    Go to a real chess tournament and you don't immediately sense an ambience of espionage and romance.

    So maybe the occasional "black on the right" and misplaced queen is an acceptable price to pay.

  • #39

    Here is the chess scene from 'from russia with love'


  • #40

    Cool thanks.

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