Hermione Granger: "That's totally barbaric!"
Ron Weasley: "That's Wizard's Chess."
— Watching a chess piece demolishing another[src]

Wizard's Chess was the magical variant of the classic board game Chess, in which the pieces were enchanted to move of their own accord when commanded by the player. When a piece was taken, it was removed by the attacking piece, often in a barbaric manner where the losing piece was smashed violently by the winning piece.


Chess set

"Exactly the same as Muggle chess except the figures are animated and can be directed like troops."

A Wizard's Chess set

The chessboard was a type of checkerboard that consisted of 64 squares (eight rows and eight columns) arranged in two alternating colours (light and dark). The colours were called "black" and "white" (or "light" and "dark"). The Chess pieces, or chessmen, consisted of one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns.[1] The chessboard and chessmen were exactly like Muggle chess pieces, except they were magically animated, possibly using Piertotum Locomotor.


Players moved their pieces by speaking the name of the piece and the square it was to move to by algebraic notation. For example, "Knight to E5". Aside from the self-moving pieces, the rules of Wizard's Chess were exactly the same as Muggle chess. The moving pieces seemed to be reasonably sentient, as seen when Harry Potter began learning how to play the game, he used Seamus Finnigan's pieces, which offered him conflicting advice because they knew that he was not a good or experienced player.[2]



Murphy McNully and Barnaby Lee

During the Christmas holidays in the 1984–1985 school year, Rowan Khanna got a new Wizard's Chess set from their parents, and invited Jacob's sibling to play the game in the Great Hall when they were on break from Christmas decorating.[3]

Murphy McNully played Wizard's Chess with Jacob's sibling to test them about their strategy.[4]

Ronald Weasley owned a Wizard's Chess set which he inherited from his grandfather. Unlike many of his hand-me-downs possessions, the second-hand chess set was advantageous as the pieces trusted him. When Harry Potter played with Seamus Finnigan's chess men, they did not trust his judgement and offered him advice.[2]

During the Christmas Feast in the 1991–1992 school year, Harry obtained his very own Wizard's Chess set in a number of Wizard Crackers, among other things. He later broke it in by losing, once again, to Ron (although Harry saw this more as the fault of Ron's brother, Percy Weasley, who stood over his shoulder and gave him advice). In addition, Hermione Granger lost at the game much to her annoyance, for which Harry and Ron believed was a good experience for her.[2]

In the 1995-1996 school year, there were three Wizard's Chess challengers in Hogwarts: the Gryffindor champion (easiest level) at Gryffindor common room, the Slytherin champion at the Great Hall and the Ravenclaw champion (hardest) at the Library.[5]

Giant Wizard's Chess kings appeared as Confoundables during the Calamity which affected the Wizarding World in the 2010s, guarding the Philosopher's Stone. Volunteer members of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force had to destroy the kings with the use of the Exploding Charm in order to return the Stone to its rightful place with Nicolas Flamel in 1927.[6]

Chessboard Chamber

Main article: Chessboard Chamber
Chessboard Chamber GIF

The giant Wizard's Chessboard

In 1991, Minerva McGonagall chose to put an enormous Wizard's Chessboard in the third of the Underground Chambers acting as security for the Philosopher's Stone. When Harry, Ron and Hermione encountered the Chessboard while trying to beat Quirinus Quirrell (or Severus Snape whom they believed) to the Stone, Harry played as one of the black bishops, Hermione as a rook, and Ron as a Knight. Using his extensive knowledge of chess, Ron managed to get himself, Harry, and Hermione across, ultimately sacrificing himself to the White Queen so that Harry could checkmate the King. Fortunately, Ron later recovered.[7]

One of the queens was displaced by the chaotic magic of the Calamity during the 2010s, causing members of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to return it back to 1991 where it belonged.

Known players

Behind the scenes

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the game was depicted with the chess pieces destroying each other (presumably to be fixed with the Mending Charm at the end of the game), but in the book the pieces simply knock each other out and drag captured pieces off the edge of the board.
  • In the film 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.
  • Ron's chess set depicted in the film is a replica of the 12th century Lewis Chessmen.[citation needed]
  • Gryffindor student Kenny Markham was a Wizard's Chess fan and collected chess pieces.
  • A similar concept is featured in Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita, where Professor Woland (alias Satan) and his retinue play with a supernatural chess set whose pieces are animate and move by themselves.


Screenshot 836
Screenshot 835

A Wizard's Chess Queen as seen in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

See also

Notes and references

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