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Astral Checkerboard Decor

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Taking 3-D Chess to a completely different level.

A subtrope of Chess Motifs. Somewhere "else" has this checkered motif on the floors, walls or both. It could be a Mental World, a Layered World or just an Eldritch Location.

Not necessarily Human Chess, but who knows?

Also known as the Mason Checkered Floor. Compare White Void Room. See also Cosmic Chess Game.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kyousogiga: Inevitable, given the massive Human Chess and Alice in Wonderland refs.
  • All over the place in Black★Rock Shooter, be it the OVA, the game or anything else.
  • Many of the Witches in Puella Magi Madoka Magica have this motif somewhere inside their closed off worlds.
    • The page image up there appears in the first episode. Interestingly, that particular area is never shown again, and it's unclear what exactly it is.
    • At the start of episode 9, when Sayaka becomes a witch, the surroundings turn into a bizarre depression in the ground, with the witch Oktavia in the center. The entire terrain has a black and white checkerboard design. Interestingly, when Kyouko and Madoka return to the barrier to actually fight Oktavia, the astral checkerboard is completely gone, replaced with an elaborate concert hall where her familiars are performing a symphony.
    • When Homura fights the wraiths at the end of the manga, the fight takes place in a dungeon with a checkered floor.
    • Margot's labyrinth is particularly filled with this in Puella Magi Oriko Magica.
  • A checkerboard floor shows up in Soul Eater in every scene of, and exclusively in, Soul's mental image of his soul world when he's in his weapon form.
  • Checkerboards appear throughout Tokyo Ghoul, and are typically either hint at hidden danger or Kaneki's damaged mental state. The primary example is Yamori's Playroom, where Kaneki endures 10 days of torture prior to embracing his Ghoul nature. At several points after that, he hallucinates checkered patterns on floors, walls, or even skies. Another, more subtle example is the checkered pattern on the floors of Uta's shop, hinting at their true nature as The Chessmaster manipulating events behind the scenes.
  • After Kazuma dies in KonoSuba, he ends up in some sort of Purgatory, which has checkerboard flooring.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, the executives of SOL Tech are named after Chess Pieces, and appear in an appropriately themed virtual space

    Comic Books 
  • Philippe Druillet uses this as a recurring motif in the Lone Sloane series. When travel psychic and physical takes place odds are there's going to be some version of this pattern showing up.
  • Gideon Gordon Graves' battlefield in Ramona's mind in the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels has a checkered floor.
  • The Timekeeper's domain in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! is half this and half Salvator Dali painting.

    Fan Works 
  • During Susie's nightmare during In Love and War, several cardboard boxes fall from the sky, some with the bottoms black, others white. Once they are finished falling, they resemble a giant checkerboard.
  • In Top Hats and Tigers, the Mindspace resembles a White Void Room, except it is checkerboard-patterned instead of blank.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All over The Matrix. One example is when Neo goes to meet Morpheus (and first enters "the Real World.") The movie is pretty blatant with the Alice in Wonderland refs in that scene.
  • The Pale Man's room in Pan's Labyrinth has a checkerboard pattern.
  • Inception has dream locations like this.
  • The longest and most memorable of The Dude's dream sequences in The Big Lebowski features the checkerboard flooring he saw earlier at the eponymous Big Lebowski's house.
  • Notably the afterlife hallways in Beetlejuice, but shows up other places as well. Combines with stripes and other bold patterns, as well as Bizarrchitecture.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music Videos 
  • Tom Petty's video for "Don't Come Around Here No More".
  • Ayumi Hamasaki's "Song 4 u".
  • Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok" which has both a chessboard on a table and a huge one on a floor big enough to have people as the pieces.

  • Due to the ease of generating a checkerboard pattern on an infinite plane, this is a common aspect of early computer-generated images. Compare the classic mirrored sphere on a checkerboard floor. Not to mention the famous checkerball from the early Amiga graphics demo (it was patterned so you could see that it was spinning) — so famous that it eventually became the platform's official logo.
  • Commonly used to represent transparency in images being edited. Used in Paint Shop Pro, Paint.NET, The Gimp, and others.

    Video Games 
  • A more meta example: In all games developed in the Source engine, missing textures are represented by a purple-and-black checkerboard, so if you're somewhere you shouldn't be, have incorrectly installed textures, or are playing something unfinished; these checkerboards will probably show up. Checkerboards as placeholder textures are used in many other individual games, but the Source engine's purple-and-black one is the most notorious.
  • The Logic Chess sequences in Ace Attorney Investigations 2 take place on a blue checkerboard plane, representing Edgeworth's mental chess matches against witnesses.
  • Lots in American McGee's Alice and its sequel, as you'd expect from something based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • The bizarre, surrealism-inspired Eldritch Location of Cuphead's Funhouse Frazzle has these on the floor and ceiling of its middle section. Checkerboard patterns also appear on the walls that serve as gatekeepers for the level’s weirder areas.
  • In a similar vein, the Collective Unconscious in the Persona series.
  • The heart of the Amala Labyrinth in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne where Lucifer resides has a checkerboard floor.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: Checkerboard tiles in floors show up on certain fortresses, as well as the walls of the kings' castles. Given the Alice in Wonderland roots of the franchise, it makes sense.
    • Luigi's Mansion: The Astral Hall is a mysterious room located in the second floor that features a checkerboard design in the floors as well as the walls. Luigi has to light the candles to make ghosts appear and capture them to reach the Observatory, where he unveils a mystic path reminiscent of outer space.
    • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2: The green tiles will actually disappear if Mario/Luigi were to step on them. Also, in the first game, the staircase leading to the planet on which Mario/Luigi fights Bowser will be smashed apart by meteorites.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The Southern Face Shrine has this design. It appears earlier in the game as well, but this is the point where it's most appropriate. It's where Link discovers that the island is part of a dream-made-real, created by the Wind Fish.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The checkerboard floor of the Temple of Time, which serves as the resting ground for the Master Sword. The Forest Temple has rooms with this pattern as well.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: The Ancient Castle of Ikana features this, as well as some parts of the Stone Tower Temple.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles features them quite prominently in the Blue Sphere special stages. Green Hill Zone doesn't count, however, since despite featuring a prominent checkerboard pattern, it's not actually otherworldly within the context of the series.
  • Touhou Project: In Fanworks, Eiki Shiki's Court has a chessboard floor, somewhat justified, given her ability to judge things black and white.
    • The Background in the final battle of Touhou Gensokyo ~ Lotus Land Story uses a Blue and black checkerboard background.
    • Also the Palace of the Earth spirits has a Checkerboard floor
  • Yume Nikki has a checkered pattern on Madotsuki's shirt. The Fangames took that and carried on with it, ending up with this trope.
  • Chessboard Land in King's Quest VI.
  • Quake has levels with this style of decor.
  • The Bizarrchitecture in Constantine's mansion in Thief: The Dark Project includes checkerboard floors (and walls and ceilings in such places as the floor ceases to be a floor).
  • In Psychonauts, Sasha Nein's mental world is shown as a large cube with an odd, checkerboard-like design, signifying himself as The Stoic.
  • Superliminal has one of these near the end of the game.
  • Dragon's Lair has Dirk jumping from square to square on a chessboard to keep the bad knight from electrocuting him.
  • Checkerboard surfaces are all over the place in the Doom Game Mod Void, which is set in an Eldritch Location.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game culminates in a Battle in the Center of the Mind with Gideon on a checkerboard floor.
  • Aqua Fortis Aqua Valis the floor of almost every stage.
  • Wizard101: When Novus is still in an unformed state, it looks like a meshwork of purple and beige rectangles, arranged into the approximate shape of the landscape that it will eventually turn into.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The Battlefield in Homestuck is a Checkerboard PLANET after prototyping enough times.
  • The world beyond the couch cushions in Ozy and Millie features a good amount of this. To quote the commentary in the book Prehistrionics: "My fondness for stripes, checkerboards, polka dots, arrows, and other pop-art-esque patterns has never been so obvious as it was during this storyline."

    Web Original 
  • Chessboard patterns appear throughout the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared series: the dining room floor in DHMIS 1, the bathroom floor in 2, the picnic mat in 3, the digital world in 4, and the kitchen tiles in 5. This all foreshadows an important setting in the sixth and final episode: the Lotus-Eater Machine nature of the world they live in; the world's control room also has chessboard flooring.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: There's a notable creepy checkerboard ground in the scenes where the mane cast confront the villain Discord on his throne during part two of the season 2 premiere. Because of Discord, all of Ponyville had effectively been turned into an Eldritch Location. In the comics, a map included in one issue has a similar design for the site of where a battle with Discord was once held long ago.
  • When the Teen Titans first encounter Mad Mod he is in control of a strange world with a checkerboard pattern. It's later revealed to be all smoke and mirrors.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) episode "The Box", the kids briefly find themselves in another, even stranger world with celestial bodies strewn across a dark sky, a standing clock, and this.

    Real Life 
  • The black and white checkerboard floors in Masonic lodges: actually an inversion, since it symbolizes the material, mundane world, in which light and darkness, good and evil, matter and spirit, are jumbled together.
  • For given values of "real life," this has been reported by self-professed astral travelers.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Astral Chequerboard Decor


Red stumbles upon the machine

The stage that Red Guy was performing in turned into this trope, and it's where he discovers the control panel, revealing the whole show to be a LotusEaterMachine.

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Example of:

Main / AstralCheckerboardDecor

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