Movie chess scenes where the board is set up wrong

by ChessBase
11/5/2012 – "Once you start to look for them, you see chessboards everywhere," writes Arika Okrent in Mental Floss. "In commercials, print ads, TV shows, and movies, chess is a go-to symbol for class, intelligence and the drama of strategic one-upmanship. However, very often the board is set up wrong." Arika has documented eleven famous movies with bad boards. Can you find more?

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


It has long been our contention that there is a free-lance chess expert who advises magazines and movie makers when they want to include a chess scene in their production. He ensures that they get the board wrong – with a black square on the bottom right-hand corner. Unlike Arika Okrent we estimate that the incidence is well over 50% and connot be explained by chance or incompetence. There must be someone doing it on purpose, for reasons which elude us. Below are some of the more blatent examples of wrong set-ups – you can see all eleven in Arika's Mental Floss report.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

History of the World: Part I (1981)

Bergman: The Seventh Seal (1957)

Arika Okrent has quoted eleven cases of wrong chessboards in famous films. They are:

  1. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
  2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  3. Hands of a Murderer (1990)
  4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  5. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde (2003)
  6. The Da Vinci Code (2006)
  7. History of the World: Part I (1981)
  8. What’s New Pussycat (1965)
  9. Blade Runner (1982)
  10. Never Say Never Again (1983)
  11. The Seventh Seal (1957)

We are sure there are more and ask our readers to send in further examples. Please use our feedback form to do so, and make sure to use "Wrong board" in the subject line, to make sure your message is not missed.

See also:

Move by move – politicians playing chess
27.10.2011 – A new book is creating quite a discussion in Germany. It is about two politicians, one a former chancellor of the country (1974 to 1982), the other quite plausibly a future chancellor (2013–), one 93 years old and razor sharp in his mind, the other, 64, a preeminent critic of global predatory capitalism. Both are chess players and the book uses a game motif on its cover. Take a closer look.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register