Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows

  • SFN
  • | 30 abr. 2012 at 16:11
  • | Publicado en: SFN's Blog
  • | 33993 Lecturas
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This blog includes spoilers from the chess scene in this movie so  you have been warned Smile

A Game of Shadows was the second movie directed by Guy Ritchie.The interesting thing about this movie is that it included a chess scene.It was towards the end when Sherlock Holmes and his enemy Moriarty sat down on a balcony in the winter at night.

They decided to play a 5 minute blitz game.Moriarty had the white pieces.Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of the board position as the camera zooms in on a small part of the board and is more interested in the facial expressions of the actors.

After a while both players seems to forget about the clock.Holmes sacrifices his queen and Moriarty says : I think you just lost your most valuable piece. 

Holmes says: But a winning strategy sometimes necessitates sacrifice.

After that both players says their moves without looking at the board.They use descriptive notation instead of algebraic notation used nowadays as the movie takes place in 1891.

The game ends with a discovered checkmate by Holmes.

The unusual chess clock used in this movie was manufactured by Fattorini & Sons of Bradford,England.It made its debut in London in 1883.

The game in this movie was inspired by the match Bent Larsen vs Tiger Petrosian in 1966 in Santa Monica.However in the movie they started with a different opening beginning with c4 and it was from move 25 for black they used a different variation and the colours were reversed.

We can't see the exact opening line but we can see that white starts with c4 and black responds with e5.They don't show white´s second move but black´s second which is d5.Later we can see on the board that white has developed his knight and g-pawn and has taken black´s d-pawn with his c-pawn.On his fifth move he move his bishop.Black has developed his f-knight and takes white´s pawn.

So possible opening lines could be 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 Nf6 4.g3 Nxd5 5.Bg2 or 

1.c4 e5 2.g3 d5 3.cxd5 Nf6. 4.Nc3 Nxd5 5.Bg2

I have included three games.First the original game between Larsen and Petrosian.

Then the game between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in this movie but only the end cause they dont show the whole game.

And finally also a game between Holmes and Moriarty from the book "The Final problem" which this movie borrows some elements from.

The games were analysed with the engine "Stockfish 5" with 4 minutes/ move.




  • hace 13 meses


    Are you sure? I thought the Final Problem had been clear about hisome death...

  • hace 13 meses


       In response to LoopedMe, Holmes faked his death in the books as well, not resurfacing until he solved some other problem or caught a different bad guy or something

  • hace 19 meses


    I do not like the way they ended the movie, and I suppose the game should have been a stalemate. In the original Sherlock Holmes series the two men go down with each other, and that is the way it must be. Can anyone tell me the purpose behind 8. ... Bd7?

  • hace 3 años


    The real shame is I could find no credit for Raoof at the end of the movie. You'd think with that much influence, they would have at the very least given him special thanks...

  • hace 4 años


    In the end... it's just a movie.

  • hace 4 años


    The "lost your most valuable piece" actually refers to Renee, the assassin, for when interrogated he could have named Moriarty as the mastermind behind the attempt. He, of course, was dispatched by Moriarty's hired gun.

  • hace 4 años


    Yes about 38 minutes into the movie there is another scene and Holmes and Moriarty talks in front of a chessboard.The white queen and king seems to have been misplaced.I think it just was a mistake.

    The script specified who was to win with what colour and when Adam Raoff had chosen the appropriate game the script was rewritten on the day and the colours had to be reversed at the last minute.

    I don´t know if the queen sacrifice refers to Irene Adler but you can read more about the movie in this blog which discuss this and other things:

  • hace 4 años


    I also wonder about the queen sacrifice that Holmes mentions that is sometimes necessary for a winning strategy refers to Irene Adler's unfortunate demise.

  • hace 4 años


    I also noticed that the opening was c4 by Moriarty, I'm guessing to reflect the English opening? 

    I've also read, but have not had the chance to acutally see it for sure, that in the first encounter of Moriarty and Holmes with the chess board earlier in the movie after Moriarty's lecture, the queens and kings are in the wrong places.  White queen on the darker square and the white king on the lighter square with the black pieces directly across.  Certainly this couldn't have been on purpose, but a prop persons "honest" mistake?

  • hace 4 años


  • hace 4 años



    It's a quite stupid game and the white queen movement at the end are pointless but that's all I thought as the game whit a different begin and the pieces at the end aren't like they are in your chessboard but it work so...
  • hace 4 años

    NM smalugu

    Nice work

  • hace 4 años


    I updated the blog with new information and changed the game so it only show the end.I emailed the technical advisor Adam Raoof during the chess scene and Qh6 and Kh1 wasn't in the movie but are the correct moves.(I presumed it cause it was the only possible move with queen cause of later Qxb2 and of course the King could have moved to f1 also).

    I took a closer look at the chess scene and the opening and you can read the about it in the middle of the blog.They use a different opening in the movie then the Larsen-Petrosian game.

    Adam Raoff told me that he choose the game with Larsen as a tribute to him and because it was one of his favourite tournament books and was played in the year of his birth.

    Holmes was gonna play white in the original script but soon after they decided on this line the director changed the script so that Holmes was gonna have the black pieces so they reversed the position and lost a move.

    Adam added the line 'discovered check and, incidentally, mate', which made it to the film and which

    Robert Downey Junior thought was  "&&**ing awesome"!

  • hace 4 años


    Not sure how this "game in the movie" was recovered, and certainly the last part of the game kind of agree with the movie scripts, but there're two things that are not quite right. First, the moves 30...Qb6+ 31.Kh1 wasn't in the movie script (unless I'm watching a weirdly edited version that happen to cut out these two lines). Secondly, the game in the movie obviously begins with 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 d5, and this game doesn't even come close.

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