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Thread: Checkmate

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Justin K's Avatar
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    Checkmate

    Remember that scene (FROM TV) where the main characters chat over the chessboard and then one gets checkmated just before the scene ends? Can I use this formula in my script and still respect myself in the morning?

  2. #2
    "Assume Good Intentions" SuperModerator Williebee's Avatar
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    Sure, as long as it works. If, reading through it, the reader sees it coming three lines before you get there? It didn't work.

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  3. #3
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    I don't see why not.

    Just make sure that if you mention any movement of pieces that what you've described is not an illegal move
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  4. #4
    Not-so-new PortableHal's Avatar
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    Nope, because you already don't respect the idea of using it. If you end up going with the scene, you'll only remove it later.

    Save yourself the grief and look for something else.
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  5. #5
    Comic guy Bartholomew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PortableHal View Post
    Nope, because you already don't respect the idea of using it. If you end up going with the scene, you'll only remove it later.

    Save yourself the grief and look for something else.
    Having a functional understanding of tropes does not mean you don't respect what they do. It means you're analytic enough to notice them.
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  6. #6
    Shooting stars. lolchemist's Avatar
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    No matter how you write the scene you're always going to have one reader who goes 'Ughh!!! Really? Checkmate?? Really?' as long as you're okay with that, do whatever you want.

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  7. #7
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Just so long as you don't have the following sequence.

    Player A: {Clever statements} Check.

    Player B: {Cleverer Statements} Checkmate.

    This never ever happens.

    More seriously, if you do use the standard checkmate trope what you are showing is that your players are not that good. Games between really good players are rarely played out to mate. Usually if one player gains enough of an advantage the other player resigns.
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  8. #8
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    So long as you understand the difference between check and checkmate.
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  9. #9
    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    Just so long as you don't have the following sequence.

    Player A: {Clever statements} Check.

    Player B: {Cleverer Statements} Checkmate.

    This never ever happens.

    More seriously, if you do use the standard checkmate trope what you are showing is that your players are not that good. Games between really good players are rarely played out to mate. Usually if one player gains enough of an advantage the other player resigns.
    My favourite is this one:

    Player A: {clever statements} Check.

    Player B: {stands up to leave, as if resigning, also some clever statements - then, as if only just remembering they have to make a move, moves one seemingly insignificant piece} I think that's checkmate.

    Player A: Wh-whaaaaa!?
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  10. #10
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    You can always do a variation of it. Player A never wins at chess with Player B, but at the end of the novel, when Player A has accomplished his goal, Player B finds (or gets in the mail) a king lying on its side. "Checkmate" implied.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Justin K's Avatar
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    These are all good observations for how not to do the scene. I actually love chess, so naturally I'd like to incorporate it into a screenplay I'm working on. I think I want to do a better job portraying the game, like having the characters play through a full game amidst plot related dialogue. Then they can play at each other with metaphoric moves relating to the plot, and get into a fight over something obscure.

    For instance.. half way through the game:

    Person A: sacrifices valuable piece
    Person B: ridicules person A for not caring what he loses if he thinks it will benefit him
    Person A: asks what thats supposed to mean

    ..game becomes more furious, subsequently ending in stalemate, or a board flip, or a fist fight (just something more interesting than checkmate)

  12. #12
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    Hmm. *quietly removes scene from trunk novel*

    Wasn't actually chess. But hmmm anyway.

  13. #13
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    I know that it's supposed to symbolize the battle of wits the players are having, but I always thought it would be amusing for the smarter person to win the argument but lose the game. Like this:
    Player A: <clever statements>
    Player B: <cleverer statements> Check. <stands up to leave>
    Player A: <speechless, but moves a piece. Meekly> Checkmate.
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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Or how about:
    Player A: <clever statement> Check
    Player B: I didn't see that coming! <talks about some other topic of mutual interest & frowns at the board in perplexity>
    Player A: <very clever statement about the other topic>
    <brief dialogue on the other topic, one or two rounds of moves, Player A is confident & clever>
    Player B: Checkmate!
    Player A: <speechless>

  15. #15
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Player A: {witty statement} Check.

    Someone unexpected rushes into the room and delivers totally unexpected news to Player A.

    Player B: Checkmate.

    (The game is abandoned.)

  16. #16
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin K View Post
    ..game becomes more furious, subsequently ending in stalemate, or a board flip, or a fist fight (just something more interesting than checkmate)
    I'm a huge fan of full-contact chess.
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