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"Ron also started teaching Harry wizard chess. This was exactly like Muggle chess except that the figures were alive, which made it a lot like directing troops in battle. Ron’s set was very old and battered. Like everything else he owned, it had once belonged to someone else in his family — in this case, his grandfather. However, old chessmen weren’t a drawback at all. Ron knew them so well he never had trouble getting them to do what he wanted."
— Ron Weasley teaching Harry Potter how to play Wizard's Chess[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.[1]

Talented and eminent players could earn the title of chess master[2] or Wizard Chess Champion.[3]

Description[]

Chess set[]

"Exactly the same as Muggle chess except the figures are animated and can be directed like troops."
— Description[src]
Wizards-chess-set-lrg

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.[4] The chessboard and chessmen were exactly like Muggle chess pieces, except they were magically animated,[1] likely using Piertotum Locomotor. If a chess set got badly damaged, they had to be sent to a special place for repairs.[2]

Armies[]

Although many wizard's chess sets came with two armies, when facing another witch or wizard with their own army a player would typically take one of their own armies to play against their opponent's army. Bringing one's own army or borrowing someone else's was sometime a requirement of chess tournaments, such as the Walter Aragon Wizard Chess Competition.[2]

Instructions[]

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.[1]

Sentience[]

The level of sentience of the pieces seemed to go beyond simply moving on orders, as they could fight and squabble if left unattended, and occasionally offered the players advice, implying speech or mimicry to convey their own opinions; the pieces in the Underground Chamber were stoic and simple-minded, possibly due the size of the pieces affecting the potency of the animation charm, or a choice by the caster. A witch or wizard's chess sets would start to learn and take on the skills of their owners, with less experienced chess players being able to use the more experienced wizard's chess pieces to improve their skill. Forming a strong bond with one's chess pieces was a vital component to mastering Wizard's chess.[2]

History[]

Formal tournaments[]

Jacob's sibling: "Why is it that we don't compete in more wizard's chess competitions at this school?"
Minerva McGonagall: "Because, the last time Hogwarts students entered a wizard chess competition, it didn't end well."
Jacob's sibling: "What happened to them? Did they lose the tournament?"
Minerva McGonagall: "Yes. They suffered a heartbreaking loss to a school with a longstanding rivalry."
— Professor McGonagall discusses Hogwarts' rivalry with Beauxbatons[src]
Wizard's Chess tournament final round HM

The Walter Aragon Chess Tournament

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had a long history of producing talented Wizard's Chess players, such as the chess master Walter Aragon, as well as Brian Gagwilde, both of whom later became Headmasters at the school. Despite the school's relation to Wizard's Chess, however, they had a longstanding rivalry with Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. In an unknown year, students from the two schools played in a chess tournament, in which Hogwarts suffered a devastating loss, and Beauxbatons had remained undefeated ever since.[2]

During the 1988–1989 school year, Jacob's sibling and several of their friends participated in the Walter Aragon Wizard Chess Competition, named after former Hogwarts Headmaster Walter Aragon, in Flourish and Blotts. Jacob's sibling managed to defeat the esteemed chess player Celine Castillon of Beauxbatons in the tournament.[2]

In the 1995–1996 school year, there were multiple Wizard's Chess champions at Hogwarts: at least five Gryffindor champions in the Gryffindor common room, the Slytherin champion in the Great Hall, and the Ravenclaw champion in the Library. An individual who defeated all of these champions was given the Grand Master Cup, which was awarded to Harry Potter.[5]

Casual games[]

1890s[]

On 2 September 1890, Imelda Reyes could be seen in the Slytherin common room spectating, and offering unsolicited advice on, a Wizard's Chess game between a Slytherin boy and a girl whom he was playing.[6]

1980s[]

Wizard's Chess with Badeea, Murphy and Tulip HM5CBG

Badeea, Murphy, and Tulip playing Wizard Chess

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.[7]

In the 1985–1986 school year, Professor Minerva McGonagall played a game of Wizard's Chess when being interviewed by Jacob's sibling for their presentation at that year's Teacher Appreciation Celebration. The game underwent several phases, with McGonagall eventually winning the game. She gave one of her chess sets to Jacob's sibling as a memento.[8]

Murphy McNully played Wizard's Chess with Jacob's sibling to test their strategy.[9] They would then often play with each other between Quidditch practices. At some point after the start of the 1987–1988 school year, Orion Amari also played with Murphy as one of several activities from which he hoped to regain mental balance after he was injured in a Quidditch friendly.[10]

During the 1988–1989 school year, Jacob's sibling and Chiara Lobosca played Wizard's Chess to help themselves think the situation through after Ismelda Murk attempted to capture Chiara and reveal her werewolf identity.[11]

1990s[]

Wizard's Chess

Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter in a game of Wizard's Chess

Ronald Weasley owned a Wizard's Chess set which he inherited from his grandfather. Unlike many of his hand-me-down 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.[1]

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).[1] In addition, Hermione Granger lost at the game much to her annoyance, for which Harry and Ron believed was a good experience for her.[12]

Gryffindor student Kenny Markham was a Wizard's Chess fan and collected chess pieces.[13]

Chessboard Chamber[]

Main article: Chessboard Chamber
"I have a few last-minute points to dish out. Let me see. First — to Mr Ronald Weasley... for the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
— Ron being awarded for winning the human chess match[src]
Chessboard Chamber GIF

The giant Wizard's Chessboard

In 1991, Minerva McGonagall chose to place an enormous Wizard's Chessboard in the third of the Underground Chambers acting as security for the Philosopher's Stone. When Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger encountered the Chessboard while trying to beat Quirinus Quirrell (or, as they falsely believed, Severus Snape) to the Stone, Harry played as one of the black Bishops, Hermione as a Rook, and Ron as a Knight.

Ron sacrifice

Ron sacrificing himself in the chess game in the Philosopher's Stone Chambers

Ron's talent in Wizard's Chess allowed them to pass one of the obstacles protecting the stone. Ron sacrificed himself as a game piece so Harry could place the enemy king in checkmate, allowing Harry and Hermione to move on.[14] Ron's chess playing was said to be "the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years" and was awarded 50 points for his efforts.

The Calamity[]

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 Bombardment Spell in order to return the Stone to its rightful place with Nicolas Flamel in 1927.[15]

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.[15]

Known Wizard's Chess moves and strategies[]

  • 1. e4 d5 2. exd5: Played by the white side of the giant chess board in the Chessboard Chamber against Ronald Weasley. Also known as the Main Line of the Scandinavian Defence.[16]
  • Dragon Variation of the Slytherin Defence: A complex strategy, but devastating when used correctly. Many chess theory books have written about this legendary strategy. According to the Dragon Variation, player will castle kingside (0-0) in order to capture the opponent's most powerful pieces.[17]
  • Counter to the Dragon Variation of the Slytherin Defence: Specifically designed to counter the Dragon Variation of the Slytherin Defence, it involved rushing the pawns to the other side of the opponent's board in order to counter to losses from the Dragon Variation taking your most powerful pieces.[17]
  • Grans Gambit: A gambit named after Tulip Karasu's 'Grans' (presumably her grandmother).[18]

Known players[]

Behind the scenes[]

Screenshot 836

Wizard's Chess as seen in the GBA version of the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

  • 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.
  • Ron's chess set depicted in the film is a replica of the 12th century Lewis Chessmen.[citation needed]
    PM BlueMonday Ron's battered chess set

    'Ron's battered wizard chess set' on Pottermore

  • 'Ron's battered wizard chess set' was one out of the thirty-two options generated by an old feature[26] on Pottermore, 'Wonderful wizarding world happiness generator', which was about things that could cast away the Blue Monday blues.[27]
    • The description was 'There's something so comforting about old, well-worn, much-loved things. We wish we could play a game of wizard chess on Ron's particularly rustic set. Not that we'd win, mind'.[28]
  • 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.
  • The "Dragon Variation of the Slytherin Defence" appears to be a pun on the real-world Sicilian Defence, Dragon Variation.
  • The counter to the Dragon Variation of the Slytherin Defence is either named Gagwilde's return, The [Player's last name] gambit, or The Full Team Press, depending on what the player chooses to call it.

Appearances[]

Wiki
The Harry Potter Wiki has 93 images related to Wizard's Chess.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Side Quest "The Curse-Breaker's Gambit"
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
  4. WP favicon Chess on Wikipedia
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
  6. Hogwarts Legacy, Main Quest "Welcome to Hogwarts"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 1, Side Quest "Tis the Season"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, "A SPECIAL CELEBRATION OF HOGWARTS TEACHERS!" Achievement
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, Quidditch Season 1, Chapter 4 (Strategic Moves)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 4, Quidditch Season 3, Chapter 2 (Orion's Spark)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, "THE QUIBBLER: FIGHT FOR THE FRONT PAGE" Achievement
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel)
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game) - NDS version
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
  16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
  17. 17.0 17.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Side Quest "The Curse Breaker's Gambit"
  18. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Side Quest "The Curse Breaker's Gambit" (see this video)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Hogwarts Legacy, Main Quest "Welcome to Hogwarts"
  20. Hogwarts Legacy – Her office contains a Wizard's chess set.
  21. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Help Dumbledore with Christmas quest (2018 version)
  22. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
  23. 23.0 23.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, "Help Dumbledore With Christmas" (2020/2021 version)
  24. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Beyond Hogwarts, Volume 1, Chapter 14 (HIGH SOCIETY)
  25. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, "HOGWARTS TRIVIA" Achievement
  26. Features: 'Wonderful wizarding world happiness generator' at Pottermore (archived)
  27. 'Introducing our 'Wonderful wizarding world happiness generator', which is ready and waiting to cast away those #BlueMonday blues. Click here to receive your very own piece of wizarding world happiness, and let us know what you got… pottermo.re/Happiness' - @pottermore on Twitter and Facebook
  28. Features: 'Wonderful wizarding world happiness generator (text only version)' at Pottermore (archived)

See also[]

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