Reports | May 06, 2009 23:51

Chess in The Wire

The WireChess has always been a popular theme in literature, art and movies, and it's often the subject of metaphors in daily speech. However, have you ever come across the symbolic value of our beloved game to describe drug trade?

Every now and then we receive tips from our readers about new chess videos which they've found on YouTube or on a similar video hosting site. (Keep on sending them!) This time we have one from the TV series The Wire, in which the rules of the game are being explained in a, well, somewhat different way!

The Wire is an American television drama series set in Baltimore, Maryland, where it was also produced. Created, produced, and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States. The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002 and ended on March 9, 2008, with 60 episodes airing over the course of its five seasons.

Each season of The Wire focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. They are, in order: the drug trade, the port, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. Despite never seeing large commercial success or winning any Emmy Awards, The Wire has frequently been described by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time. The show is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, artistic ambitions, and uncommonly deep exploration of sociopolitical themes. (Source: Wikipedia)

The video below is from the first season (2002), third episode: The Buys. D'Angelo uses the phrase "The King stay the King" when describing the rules of chess using the analogy of the drug trade when explaining to Bodie that pawns can only become queens, never kings. In the analogy Avon Barksdale is the king.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

Marlowe's picture

Thanks, Peter. Great scene.
"Unless they are some smart-ass pawns"...rivals with Philidor's "Pawns are the soul of the game". The ghetto version of it. Analogies with chess in gangsta-rap productions [motion pictures, tracks, soundtracks, LPs, CDs, etc] depicting drug trade, ghetto war stories, inter-gang fights are quite often though. Slick Rick's "King Piece in the Chess Game" [Art of Storytelling, 1999] is one such example. Sure the folks from the Hip Hop Chess Federation have their reference list on this.

guitarspider's picture

"The Queen is the go get shit done piece" :D

Lucas's picture

Another hip hop album about chess: "Grandmasters" by DJ Muggs and GZA. Also check out "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" by the Wu-Tang Clan.

archimedes's picture

The Wire is clearly the best tv serie evah

Endrid_Cold's picture

I can't believe what I am reading. -- "blah, blah, blah, rivals Philidor's blah, blah, blah"? I just pray to God that this is not the direction chess is heading.

Marlowe's picture

@ Endrid:
Hey, dude...what are you implying? Chess is only for white people? Only for the educated? Only for pompous snobs like yourself who claim some sort of intelectual superiority to the rest of us? We're no longer in 18th century, dude. Wake up. If you could, you would reverse the trend, wouldn't you? Let the game be a luxury game played only by old, White snobish nobles on their fancy chess sets. Because only they have something wity to say and they say it in proper fanciful English. Get real.

Sue Nation's picture

Det. Lester Freamon masters a cue-card system for "pawn" shops. He then applies this cue-card system to the acquisition of pager-pawns for the detective board. Omar is the Queen (homosexual) and gets shit done. McNulty is the White King and Avon is the Black king.

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