11 Movie Chess Scenes Where The Board Is Set Up Wrong

Once you start to look for them, you see chessboards everywhere. 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 – by some estimates almost 50% of the time – the board is set up wrong. For whoever is in charge of these things, here's a tip: from the perspective of the player, the bottom left corner square should be black. The bottom right corner square should be white. Here are 11 movies where a chessboard appears in the wrong orientation.

1. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Ivana Humpalot: Do you know how we keep warm in Russia?
Austin Powers: Oooo hooo! I can guess, baby!
Ivana Humpalot: We play chess!

Not like this they don't. A real Russian would never make this mistake!

2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Image Courtesy Chess In Cinema

As the voiceover states during this shot of a chessboard, "in prison, a man will do most anything to keep his mind occupied." Perhaps, after he has finished painstakingly carving and polishing rocks into a chess set, he switches up the board orientation to challenge himself a little?

3. Hands of a Murderer (1990)

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In this Sherlock Holmes movie, the devious Moriarty comes to Holmes's apartment to confront him. A highly metaphoric game of chess ensues. But the board is set up wrong! Is this yet another twist in their complicated cat-and-mouse game? Holmes never explains.

4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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When Clarice goes to consult with a pair of entomologists, she finds them playing chess—badly. They've set up the board with the wrong orientation! But they are also using beetles as chess pieces and a live beetle as a chess clock. (The player has to make a move before the beetle crawls from one end of the board to the other.) So, it's just kind of all around different.

5. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde (2003)

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When you want to signal important officialdom in a movie make sure you've got the required elements: Massive oak desk? Check. Cushy leather desk chair? Check. Giant antique globe? Check. Deluxe burnished wood chess set? Oops!

6. The Da Vinci Code (2006)

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Who set this chessboard up the wrong way? Just another one of the many mysteries of The Da Vinci Code.

7. History of the World: Part I (1981)

Granted, it's difficult to get a good perspective on the board when you're setting up a life-sized chess game.

8. What's New Pussycat (1965)

Et tu, Woody Allen? Say it ain't so! In his defense, this was his first movie, and he wasn't directing. Chessboards make frequent appearances in his later films, and they are always set up correctly.

9. Blade Runner (1982)

It's hard to tell on a light-up board, but the bottom right corner of the opposing player is clearly black here. Then again, who knows what the rules of chess will be in the future?

10. Never Say Never Again (1983)

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You can tell that this is a game being played by the bad guys, because James Bond would never make such a mistake.

11. The Seventh Seal (1957)

That's right, the most famous chess-related movie of all time has a scene with the board set up wrong. But as we all know, Death doesn't play by the rules.

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4 Fascinating Facts About John Wayne
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Fox Photos, Getty Images

Most people know John Wayne, who would have been 111 years old today, for his cowboy persona. But there was much more to the Duke than that famous swagger. Here are a few facts about Duke that might surprise you.


John Wayne, surfer? Yep—and if he hadn’t spent a lot of time doing it, he may never have become the legend he did. Like many USC students, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) spent a good deal of his extracurricular time in the ocean. After he sustained a serious shoulder injury while bodysurfing, Morrison lost his place on the football team. He also lost the football scholarship that had landed him a spot at USC in the first place. Unable to pay his fraternity for room and board, Morrison quit school and, with the help of his former football coach, found a job as the prop guy at Fox Studios in 1927. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that Morrison belonged in front of a camera; he had his first leading role in The Big Trail in 1930.


Marion Morrison had never been fond of his feminine-sounding name. He was often given a hard time about it growing up, so to combat that, he gave himself a nickname: Duke. It was his dog’s name. Morrison was so fond of his family’s Airedale Terrier when he was younger that the family took to calling the dog “Big Duke” and Marion “Little Duke,” which he quite liked. But when he was starting his Hollywood career, movie execs decided that “Duke Morrison” sounded like a stuntman, not a leading man. The head of Fox Studios was a fan of Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, so Morrison’s new surname was quickly settled. After testing out various first names for compatibility, the group decided that “John” had a nice symmetry to it, and so John Wayne was born. Still, the man himself always preferred his original nickname. “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me,” he once said. “I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne.”


Anyone who knew John Wayne personally knew what an avid chess player he was. He often brought a miniature board with him so he could play between scenes on set.

When Wayne accompanied his third wife, Pilar Pallete, while she played in amateur tennis tournaments, officials would stock a trailer with booze and a chess set for him. The star would hang a sign outside of the trailer that said, “Do you want to play chess with John Wayne?” and then happily spend the day drinking and trouncing his fans—for Wayne wasn’t just a fan of chess, he was good at chess. It’s said that Jimmy Grant, Wayne’s favorite screenwriter, played chess with the Duke for more than 20 years without ever winning a single match.

Other famous chess partners included Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson, and Robert Mitchum. During their match, Mitchum reportedly caught him cheating. Wayne's reply: "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."


If you say you know someone battling “The Big C” these days, everyone immediately knows what you’re referring to. But no one called it that before Wayne came up with the term, evidently trying to make it less scary. Worried that Hollywood would stop hiring him if they knew how sick he was with lung cancer in the early 1960s, Wayne called a press conference in his living room shortly after an operation that removed a rib and half of one lung. “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image,” he told reporters. “Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.”

Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, later said that the 1964 press conference was the one and only time she heard her father call it “cancer,” even when he developed cancer again, this time in his stomach, 15 years later. Sadly, Wayne lost his second battle with the Big C and died on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72.

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Move Over, Star Wars Land: A Star Trek World May Be Coming to Universal Studios
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Getty Images

As Disney gears up for the 2019 openings of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at both its Florida and California amusement parks, there may be some sci-fi-themed competition on the horizon. According to Disney and More, there’s a rumor out there that Universal is planning a fourth Orlando theme park, which will include a land dedicated to all things Star Trek.

The blog also states that there have been rumblings that a Star Trek stage show at Universal would take the place of the now-defunct Terminator 2 3D show, but that’s just one option, with a Bourne Identity attraction being the other. Instead, the potential Star Trek show could be expanded to a whole area of the rumored fourth park, with a focus on a recreation of a sci-fi city, according to the site.

This rumored park would be the most high-profile Trek attraction since Las Vegas's Star Trek: The Experience (as seen in the main image). Housed at the Las Vegas Hilton from 1998 to 2008, Star Trek: The Experience included a restaurant based on Quark's bar from Deep Space Nine and the popular Borg Invasion 4D, which was an attraction that combined motion platforms, live actors, and a short 3D film to simulate a Borg takeover.

Any potential Star Trek land would be much further off than Galaxy's Edge's fall 2019 debut in Orlando. But with two new Trek movies on the horizon, and Star Trek: Discovery returning to CBS All Access for a second season in 2018, the venerable sci-fi franchise might just be able to ride a wave of momentum to become real competition for Star Wars—if not at the box office, then at least as a theme park.

[h/t Screen Rant]


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