Directed by Howard Burton • Documentary • With Prof. Jenny Adams; Pontus Carlsson; Sheriff Tom Dart; • 2023 • 58 minutes
Part 1 - Uniqueness
The first episode begins by setting the context of the entire docuseries, presenting an array of reflections on the meaning and cultural implications of play from some of history’s most celebrated thinkers. The film demonstrates how chess, as a game with a particularly long and varied history, is ideally placed to serve as a test case to rigorously explore the link between play and culture. To appreciate chess’ unique advantages, several widespread misconceptions that the unsuspecting non-chess player is continually bombarded with through film and TV (“Hollywood Chess”) are corrected in a compelling fashion. Finally, following a detailed investigation into what chess is and what distinguishes it from other games, the film then shows how “chess” actually incorporates a wide range of different games—such as xiangqi, shogi and makruk—that are actively played in many places around the world.