Independence Day

by Arne Kaehler
7/4/2020 – In our review of the movie The Coldest Game in March we also mentioned the cult classic science-fiction film "Independence Day". What's a better time to take a look at the chess game played in that movie than the Fourth of July - Independence Day?

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Happy Fourth of July!

On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared their independence from England and if you enter this date into the Google search machine today, you will see fireworks!


A lot of famous movies were made in which this date and this day played a role, e.g. Jaws (1975), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Cape Fear (1991), and, of course, Independence Day (1996).

People just love this film. A huge alien army wants to destroy earth and fails miserably, although the humans don't act very smart to cross the plans of the aliens. In my opinion, this battle should have ended in a draw.

Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) after punching an alien in the face.

But of the four films mentioned above Independence Day is the only one that has a chess scene! That's what you are all here for, right?

I don't want to lower your expectations but the chess scene is not particularly mindblowing though the pieces move the way they should move, the board is set up and the game we see is not that bad either.

The satellite technician David Levinson, played by Jeff Goldblum, is one of the main characters in the film and the audience has to understand that he is very smart. So, when we make his acquaintance, we see him playing chess against his father Julius in a park in New York.

Smart people play chess

David plays with White and is in trouble because he is a piece down. But as luck – or the creators of the movie – want it, he still wins after a couple of moves.


Not a very convincing game but I have a theory about it.

I think it's possible that David was actually not playing an entire game against his father but had started to analyse a game because his father was late for their appointment. When his father finally arrived he sat down to play with Black. This would explain why Black's position is so good though Julius is such a bad player that he manages to spoil a winning position in just a few moves.


Nevertheless, I was pleased to see that the game actually followed the rules of chess. After all, in many movies in which chess appears the basic rules of the game are often ignored, even if chess is one of the main topics of the film.


Arne Kaehler, a creative mind who is passionate about board games in general, was born in Hamburg and learned to play chess at a young age. By teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess-related videos on YouTube, Arne was able to expand this passion and has even created an online course for anyone who wants to learn how to play chess. Arne writes for the English and German news sites, but focuses mainly on content for the ChessBase media channels.


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