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Chess in Blade Runner

February 7, 2013

Chess has a odd role in Blade Runner, both at the literal and metaphorical level.

Chess 2

I won’t try to say anything about the metaphorical game(s) of chess being played here. But the literal game which Tyrell and Sebastian are playing appears to be an allusion to “The Immortal Game” played in 1851 between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky. And there’s at least one other life-and-death game of chess that’s being referenced here, one that runs through what is certainly one of the greatest films in the short history of cinema and one that would not be lost of Ridley Scott or much of his audience.


It’s also worth noting that when Blade Runner was made, no computer program (or artificial mind, if you like) had ever beaten a grandmaster at chess. That’s changed rather dramatically since. (Someone tell me if I’ve got my facts wrong please.)

Updated with a better screen cap from Blade Runner.

Updated Again: Typos!

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