Playing With / Smart People Play Chess

Basic Trope: A character is shown playing chess to indicate that they are smart.
  • Straight: Stan entertains himself between decoding ancient Uru etchings by playing chess.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: Stan has an impressive degree, and is a fairly competent, but not tournament-level, chess player.
  • Justified:
    • Stan is The Chessmaster.
    • As a child, Stan played games daily against his father, a world-champion chessmaster.
  • Inverted:
    • Stan is an idiot who plays chess by treating the pieces as action figures.
    • Stan is a brilliant man, but he's never been able to get the hang of chess.
    • Crazy People Play Chess.
    • The Ditz Dana is unstoppable at chess. Stan the genius barely knows how to move a pawn.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • But despite being an Idiot Savant, he's not just a great chess player; he's a genius in other, more useful, areas as well.
    • When forced to play, it turns out Stan is excellent at chess... it just doesn't interest him at all.
    • Stan is good at both chess and leading real battles, but he constantly nitpicks over all the ways chess is different from actual combat. Stan: "For starters, chess assumes that you can always see your opponent's pieces."
  • Parodied:
    • Stan entertains himself between decoding ancient Uru etchings by playing tic-tac-toe.
    • Stan keeps bragging about how smart he is and says he can beat anyone at chess. He loses in two moves.
    • Stan and Thomas are playing chess in a park to appear smart, but it's obvious they know nothing about it: Their starting position has the pieces randomly spread on the board. They flip a coin to determine which colour goes first. They say nonsense like "horse from h3 to b9" and "tower from i3 to a7" after every move. Many of their moves aren't even legal. They say "check" and "checkmate" at random times. They make terrible blunders such as hanging pieces and failing to capture hung pieces. For most of the game, Stan's king in check with neither player noticing. Then Thomas randomly declares "Stalemate! I win!", and they pack up, even though it's neither checkmate nor stalemate - in fact, Thomas's position is clearly lost.
  • Zig Zagged: Our introduction to Stan is while he's walking his beat in his job as a cop, stopping to converse with his friends playing chess in the park — but we never see him play or talk about the game.
  • Averted:
    • Stan is a genius, but isn't shown playing chess.
    • Some of the characters are chess players, but there is no correlation between intelligence and playing chess.
  • Enforced: The program is sponsored by Garry Kasparov, who "strongly encouraged" the writers to include a positive portrayal of chess.
  • Lampshaded: "Stan's so smart, you can tell he plays chess for fun."
  • Invoked:
    • Alice gives her son, Stan a chess set for his birthday to help make him smarter, or at least seem smarter.
    • In-universe advertising tries to associate chess with intelligence.
  • Exploited:
    • James sets up a chessboard in an interesting puzzle situation to distract Stan from the trap he is about to spring.
    • Stan takes up chess to appear smarter and improve his image.
    • James goes to his local chess club to find intelligent recruits for something tricky that requires geniuses.
  • Defied: "I don't waste time with chess. Playing with people is so much more fascinating."
  • Discussed: "Let's have a friendly game of chess to demonstrate the Xanatos Speed Chess I used to Out Gambit you."
  • Conversed: "Glasses and a chess set. This must be The Smart Guy of the Five-Man Band."
  • Implied: Stan is never shown playing chess, but he has a chess set in his room and several chess books in his bookshelf.
  • Deconstructed: Stan begins to apply chess-like thinking to all aspects of his life... which wreaks havoc with his personal relationships.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Stan starts treating chess as a hobby, and stops trying to draw grand life lessons from it.
    • Stan doesn't treat his friends like chess pieces, but learns to find benefit regardless of a plan's success or failure. He learned this 'glass half full' mentality from playing chess.
  • Played For Laughs: Stan is the only chess player and the only smart guy in the cast. He has a frustrating experience when he tries to teach the ditzes how to play chess.
  • Played For Drama: In-universe, chess players are perceived as "snobs who just want to show off how much 'smarter' and 'better' they are". This often gets them ostracised and bullied.


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