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"They were standing on the edge of a huge chessboard, behind the black chessmen, which were all taller than they were and carved from what looked like black stone. Facing them, way across the chamber, were white pieces — the towering white chessmen had no faces."
— Description of the Chessboard Chamber[src]

The Chessboard Chamber[2] was the location that held the fourth obstacle, also known as the Human Chess Game,[3] guarding the Philosopher's Stone in the 1991–1992 school year. The chamber resembled a giant-sized chess set, and was enchanted by Professor McGonagall, with the human-sized chess pieces being alive.[1]


The white pawns block the trio's path with their swords

On 4 June 1992, Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger were attempting to prevent the theft of the Philosopher's Stone by a servant of Lord Voldemort that, at the time, they believed was Severus Snape. After making their way past the Stone's first three defences, they encountered this obstacle in the fourth chamber. Ron took command of the black side, with himself, Harry, and Hermione replacing missing pieces, in order to defeat the obstacle and be allowed to pass.

Ron sacrifices himself in order to win the match

The trio then proceeded to play an impressive game but which was particularly brutal even by the normal standards of Wizard's Chess; by far the most lethal player was the White Queen, which personally took out at least three of the black pieces and nearly won the game in white's favour. In the end, Ron sacrificed himself to the white Queen to allow Harry to checkmate the opposing King.[1]

It was unknown how Quirinus Quirrell/Voldemort managed to bypass the chessboard. Dumbledore probably could have just easily reversed the charm McGonagall had bewitched the chess pieces with, though, rendering them back to their original size and he most likely did so, considering how he was able to pass through quickly to reach and save Harry from Quirrell.

At the end of year feast, Albus Dumbledore awarded Ron fifty house points for "the best played game of chess that Hogwarts has seen these many years". Percy Weasley proudly boasted about his brother's accomplishment.[4]

After the Philosopher's Stone was destroyed, the undamaged pieces of the chessboard were stored in the Room of Hidden Things.[5][6]


Behind the scenes

Chessboard Chamber as seen in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
    • Ron is actually riding the black knight instead of just taking its place on the board.
    • The captured pieces were, in order: Black Pawn, White Bishop, Black Queen, White Knight, Black Pawn, Black Bishop, White Knight, Black Rook, Black Knight, White King.
      • When the Black Queen is captured, the Black King and Bishop can be seen to her right and left respectively, which is the opposite of the real-life game.
      • When the White Queen destroys the Black Rook, a Black Bishop can be seen in the background. Since Harry had taken on the role of the second Black Bishop, this is a mistake as there are only two Black Bishops in a chess game (although it is possible a Black Pawn was promoted to a Bishop).
      • Just before Ron is defeated by the White Queen, a White Knight can be seen in the background, although both White Knights were destroyed during the game.
    • The filmmakers used radio and digital effects to create the movement of the giant chess pieces. The explosive effects were created using compressed air. Ronald Weasley actor Rupert Grint states "I've actually still got a broken piece of the horse!"[7]
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Ron trips over a chess piece's sword, falls unconscious, and is unable to follow his friends.
  • On Pottermore, there is a feature on designing giant wizard's chess.


Media Scene
Book Harry is a bishop. Hermione is a castle. Ron is a Knight and later gets injured.
Film Same as book, except Ron rides the Knight instead of taking its place.
Film (Disc 2 game) N/A
PC/Mac game Ron defeats most of the pieces and gets injured. Harry defeats the rest. Hermione does not play.
PS1 game There are three boards: Ron defeats most of the pieces and gets injured. Harry defeats the rest. Hermione does not play.
Pottermore "You just see a few pieces move around."
GBC game Ron defeats most pieces. Harry defeats the rest. Hermione does not play.
GBA game Harry paralyses most of the pieces. Ron paralyses the last piece and stays on the board.
LEGO Years 1-4 (desktop) While the pieces fight each other, Harry, Ron, and Hermione solve a series of puzzles by directing the pieces on the board where to move. After checkmate, Ron trips over the Black King's sword and watches the doors close after Harry and Hermione enter next room.
LEGO Years 1-4 (handheld) Ron gets injured from start, Harry has to answer three questions in order to make the pieces move and win.
PS2/Xbox/GameCube game Ron defeats some pieces. Harry takes over.
Magic Awakened Same as film.


Ron Weasley riding a Wizard's Chess piece as a POP! Vinyl

Notes and references