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Chess was a game in which two players moved their pieces across a board, the chessboard, to try to checkmate the opponent's king.

Chess pieces included kings, queens, bishops, rooks, knights and pawns.


According to the Eleventh Doctor, the Time Lords invented chess. (TV: Nightmare in Silver)

On Earth, it was known at least by the 13th century. (TV: "The Singing Sands")

In the 52nd century, a variant of chess called live chess was favoured. Each piece had an electrical current; each time a piece was moved, the current became stronger. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)

Known challenges[]

At a Gobi Desert camp in 1289, Marco Polo challenged Ian Chesterton to a game of chess. Tegana considered it a "fascinating game of strategy of war". (TV: "The Singing Sands") Tegana would later play a game against Marco Polo. Susan would also play a game against Ping-Cho. (PROSE: Marco Polo)

Dortmun played a one-player variant of the game. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)

Cotton and Stubbs use pipes instead of normal pieces in a game aboard Skybase One. (TV: The Mutants)

Cotton and Stubbs used pipes with different ends as pieces in a chess game. (TV: The Mutants)

K9 Mark I played chess with the Fourth Doctor in the TARDIS. Leela had to move K9's pieces for him. The Doctor declared that even one-dimensional chess showed the failings of the mechanical brain, shortly before K9 put him in check. (TV: The Sun Makers) A match with K9 Mark II saw the Doctor moving K9's pieces. (TV: The Androids of Tara) K9 later taught Adric to play. (AUDIO: Purgatory 12)

In 1889, in the House of the Dragon, the Fourth Doctor and Magnus Greel played a few moves of chess with the Doctor checkmating his opponent, who scattered the pieces in anger. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang)

Vislor Turlough and Tegan Jovanka played chess in the TARDIS. (TV: Enlightenment)

The Sixth Doctor also played a game of chess against Frobisher, but the game had more than one board and some were stacked to form a cube. (COMIC: War-Game)

Frobisher played chess against a robotic arm. After it beat him, he knocked the set over and claimed the robot cheated. (COMIC: Profits of Doom!)

The Sixth Doctor often played chess with Peri Brown after she rejoined him, although she did not enjoy it very much. They were in the middle of a game when Peri decided that she wanted to be returned to Baltimore in the mid-1990s. (AUDIO: Conflict Theory)

Chess was particularly favoured by the Seventh Doctor when battling certain enemies (in particular Fenric). He was accused by Ace and Bernice Summerfield of playing with their lives "as though you would a game of chess". (TV: The Curse of Fenric) [additional sources needed] While battling Lady Peinforte, de Flores and Cybermen, the Seventh Doctor and Ace travelled to 1638, where the Doctor played chess against an unknown opponent (thought to be Fenric). (TV: Silver Nemesis) The Seventh Doctor played chess against Anthony Rupert Hemmings while the latter posed as his friend George. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation) The Seventh Doctor and his companions Ace, Hex, Lysandra, and Sally were transported by Fenric to a pocket universe resembling a chessboard. (AUDIO: Gods and Monsters)

Haresh Chandra taught Luke Smith how to play chess and was subsequently beaten by him six times in a row. (TV: The Eternity Trap)

Darius Pike (with the help of K9 Mark 2) played chess against Starkey (aided by Jorjie Turner). Starkey beat him. The particular chessboard on which they were playing had animals as the chess pieces. (TV: The Fall of the House of Gryffen) Starkey later lost to K9. (TV: The Cambridge Spy)

Rory Williams and Oliver Marks played chess in the garden of the Manse. Oliver put Rory in check eleven times. (PROSE: The Glamour Chase)

Adric and Nyssa often played chess. Adric "always" won. (PROSE: Hearts of Stone)

The Eleventh Doctor once played Bobby Fischer and refused to do so again because it went "very wrong." He also had a habit of playing himself and was disappointed because every time he played chess against himself he lost. (PROSE: Dark Horizons) The Eleventh Doctor played a game against a Cyber-Planner (calling himself Mr Clever) that had attempted to possess him, with the prize being total control over the Doctor's mind. However, the game was inconclusive as the Doctor used his turn in control to destroy the Cyber-Planner with a hand pulse. (TV: Nightmare in Silver) The Eleventh Doctor also cornered Gantok in a game of live chess, though he conceded when the man promised to help him in exchange for the win. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)

Artie Maitland also played a game of chess against a controlled Cyberman, though he quickly lost as he fell into the infamous "fool's mate" error. (TV: Nightmare in Silver)

Humphrey, a fictional character created by Annette Billingsley, was taught chess by his grandfather and used his knowledge to beat a minor villain in one of Billingsley's The Troubleseekers novels. When a Ch'otterai brought The Troubleseekers fictional world to life, the Tenth Doctor encountered the robber and agreed to his challenge of a game of chess. However, the Doctor said it was inevitable that he would win because he had never lost a game of chess except to a metal dog which did not count, so he refused to play the game and claimed victory anyway. (PROSE: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage)

Other references[]

Morgaine claimed she could always beat the Doctor at chess. (TV: Battlefield)

K9 Mark II was programmed with all the championship games since 1866. (TV: The Androids of Tara)

A trap in the Tomb of Rassilon resembled a chess board. Nothing happened until a visitor reached the fifth row; then the board became a giant death trap. (TV: The Five Doctors)

When being warned that he had only four minutes left to live, the Eighth Doctor retorted by asking "anyone for chess?" (TV: The Night of the Doctor)

Group Captain Ian Gilmore was not fond of chess, claiming that "wars are fought on battlefields, not chessboards." (AUDIO: Peshka)

In the 2010s, Coal Hill School included a big floor chessboard for its pupils. (TV: The Caretaker)

At least one headteacher of Coal Hill, Francis Armitage, had a chessboard in his office. (TV: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo)

When they were captured by the Master, Jo Grant and the Third Doctor played draughts against each other. Jo won and took all the Doctor's remaining pieces. The Doctor complained that the trouble with this game was that it was too simple. Furthermore he mentioned that he was more used to playing three dimensional chess. (TV: The Mind of Evil)

The Twelfth Doctor claimed to be able to always win at chess with his secret move, kicking the board over. (TV: Smile)