The Seventh Seal


The chess game opens with the knight holding out his hands, a white piece hidden in one hand, a black one in the other. Death chooses the black pawn ("You are black", says Block. "It becomes me well." replies Death). The first moves of each use the king's pawn.

In the confessional, the knight says "I use a combination of the bishop and the knight which he hasn't yet discovered. In the next move I'll shatter one of his flanks." Death (in disguise as the priest) replies "I'll remember that." When they play by the beach, the knight says: "Because I revealed my tactics to you I'm in retreat. It's your move."

Death captures his opponent's knight.

black bishop takes white knight

"You did the right thing", states the knight, "you fell right in the trap. Check!"

Rook G1 check  [weak. Instead, winning for white is Bxb3+, gaining a clear tempo]

"Don't worry about my laughter, save your king instead." Death's response is to lean over the chess board and make a 'psychological' move. "Are you going to escort the juggler and his wife through the forest? Those whose names are Jof and Mia and who have a small son." "Why do you ask?" says the knight. "Oh, no reason", replies Death.

In one of the last scenes, the knight pretends to knock over the pieces so the young family can escape while Death is reconstructing the game. "You are mated on the next move, Antonius Block" says Death. "That's true", admits the knight. "Did you enjoy your reprieve?" "Yes, I did", Block replies.

[White "orkneylad"]
[Black "Deep Rybka 4 w32"]
[FEN "r1n1qrk1/4p2p/p2p1p2/4p3/4P3/Pb1P1N2/B1P2P1P/R2QK2R w KQ - 0 1"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. Bxb3+ Kh8
2. Nh4 Na7
3. Qg4 d5
4. Bxd5 Qc8
5. Nf5 Qc3+
6. Kf1 Rg8
7. Bxg8 Rxg8
8. Qd1 Nc6
9. Rg1 Rxg1+
10. Kxg1 e6
11. Ne3 h6
12. Rb1 Qxa3
13. Rb6 Nd8
14. Qh5 Kg7
15. Qe8 Qf8
16. Qd7+ Nf7
17. Rxe6 Qd8
18. Qc6 Kg6
19. Re8 a5
20. Rxd8 Nxd8
21. Qe8+ Kh7
22. Nf5 a4
23. Ne7 h5
24. Qg6+ Kh8
25. Qh6# 1-0


white was definately winning


Unfortunately, an analysis of this game is impossible. For a start, Block and Death would have been playing by the rules of chess as they existed in the medieval era and not those of the modern period. In that era, bishops were limited to a two-square jump (with the ability to leap over an intervening piece same as the knight) and could not have reached certain squares along the a and h files (such as at a2, where Block's one bishop is positioned on the diagramme), and none along an opponent's home rank. The queen was even further limited in movement: one square diagonally, with an optional two-square leap in any direction for a first move (an innovation that had just been introduced in the 13th century). There was no two-step opening pawn move, no en-passant capturing, and no castling. The position depicted in the movie is impossible by the medieval rules, and as the board was in a perpendicular alignment to the present-day orientation (unimportant in that time as the chequer pattern was purely decorative then) also impossible by modern standard rules. Plain fact is that the whole game setup was just thrown together at random by the set crew.