Fun with chess: a selection of very short chess movies

by Arne Kaehler
4/7/2020 – Most chess players are fascinated by films about their favourite game even though they often critically check whether everything is "correct" chess-wise. Okay, some films about chess have shortcomings but others are simply fun to watch - and here is a selection of very short films in which chess plays a prominent role. In fact, none of the films takes more than five minutes to watch. Enjoy!

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Six short films about chess

A chess dispute (1903)

This is probably the oldest chess movie ever made. It is the brainchild of Robert William Paul, an early pioneer of British movies who started to make films back in the 19th century. With a recently opened exhibition the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford pays tribute to this Forgotten Showman.

And no, there is no sound.

Draw (2020)

This film is 117 years younger than Robert William Paul's study about a dispute at the chess board, and Martin Kamminga, a 22-year old student of Visual Effects (VFX) from the Netherlands, created this little masterpiece. Kamminga's Behance account shows more of his work.

When kings clash

Geri's Game (1997)

Pixar presents this little evergreen which was created by the Czech writer and animator Jan Pinkava. The film shows how Geri, the protagonist of the film, spends a beautiful autumn day in Paris in a park to play chess against against a much stronger opponent – himself.

In times of the coronavirus, this might be a good way to play chess

Illegal Move (2016)

Illegal Move was made by Sana Srinivasan and Kyle Lopez and funded on Kickstarter. It is my favourite of the six movies selected here.

The film retells the familiar story how a knight saves the queen but comes up with a twist!

Check (2016)

Check by Christopher Cox takes a look at the thoughts players might have during a game. But be warned: the short film contains a lot of very foul language!

Gentlemen, please!!!

Pokerfish (2015)

Pokerfish is a black & white film by Sachin Bhat from India. This film shows an actual game but also scenes that violate the rules of chess.

A noble chess player

By the way: the opening of the game in the film was a favourite of Bobby Fischer and gave him a number of fine victories.

King's Indian Attack

The King’s Indian Attack is a unique opening system in that it offers White a dynamic and interesting game but without the need to know reams of theory. In addition to being easy to learn it has an excellent pedigree, leading exponents including great players such as Bobby Fischer, Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, Viktor Korchnoi, Leonid Stein and Lev Psakhis. GM Nigel Davies presents a complete repertoire for White.

And here's the critical position of the game in the film

 

Do you know any other (short) films about chess? And which is your favourite of the selection above? Use the comments to share your thoughts and favourite chess films!


Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.

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Zurubang Zurubang 4/8/2020 09:47
@Twentythreewins Thank you for your comment and the link. Interesting site and interesting article. However, I did not know your site before and claiming that "The article has almost all the stuff mentioned in my previous article" might be a little exaggerated. After all, there are only a certain amount of very short chess movies in the world, and 3 out of 6 is surely not "all my stuff". Nonetheless, it is interesting to know that you played the game in "Pokerfish" Wishing you a pleasant day
Twentythreewins Twentythreewins 4/8/2020 07:20
The article has almost all the stuff mentioned in my previous article https://8cross8.com/chess-oriented-short-films/ including my game that you published along with the story. You could have at least credited the source.. Would have been better that way.
CentrKentr CentrKentr 4/7/2020 11:27
Wastrel, do you mean "Chess Fever", or is there a different film called "Chess Madness"?
inegrepus inegrepus 4/7/2020 10:40
I found it!

https://youtu.be/H7jv85Qwxmo
inegrepus inegrepus 4/7/2020 10:34
There’s a charming Russian animated short movie, centered around a little girl who always gives mate with the knight (that makes its first move of the game!) Unfortunately I can’t find it now but perhaps someone remembers...
Wastrel Wastrel 4/7/2020 06:01
Although it's longer (a one-reeler), "Chess Madness" a Russian movie with Capablanca and other GMs of the day is just plain funny. You can find it on youtube. The scene in which the chess-obsessed man traverses a black-and-white tiled floor with knight moves will remain in your memory forever, and you'll do it yourself if you ever have the chance!
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