Stiles’ Chessboard: Analysis
In chess, the queen is on the tile of its colour, but when we first see the chess board, the queen and king are switched*. This could be in error in props but I now have a headcanon where young!stiles played chess with his dad but always managed to switch the queen and king pieces. The Sheriff mentions that Derek is one move away from checkmate – and I’ll trust the Sheriff since he’s a chess enthusiast – “I guess the alarming detail is you’re one move from being in checkmate”
The Sheriff could have switched the pieces around (like I imagine he’d always done when he and Stiles used to play). This idea makes me think it actually was a message from Stiles to the Sheriff. The chessboard is a thing between Stiles and his dad, something to show him the whole board – and now they know that Derek is a key player (and a king).
Because black is in check, a move must be made to block it. Any other move by the black is illegal.
Interestingly, the piece that can protect Derek from the bishop’s check is Peter – doing this, however, leaves Peter’s knight open to the white queen which results in a checkmate.
There is literally no other option and Derek has nowhere to go.
But then there’s the fact that the Queen and King are switched – it could have been done on purpose – so maybe in the real life game of chess, the queen, whoever it is, takes Derek’s place.
It all rests on whether Peter will make a move (to protect Derek) – Peter’s move to kill the bishop is the only move they have – and if he does nothing, Derek is screwed and if he does something, then Derek is still screwed. The former – Peter doing nothing – is the lesser of two evils, though it would mean they forfeit the game. It means that Peter acting in his own nature (remember the scorpion and the frog) and his unwillingness to sacrifice himself for others could inadvertently save Derek.
Notice how it’s Aiden (the pawn) who traps Derek, essentially cornering him. The King needs protection but he’s surrounded by people who have fucked him over – and Scott, the little pawn in the centre of the board is unable to move forward, can’t move back and is in danger from Chris’ knight.
The thing is, Scott’s placement on the board makes no sense (as well as other pieces which suddenly switch or disappear or are in impossible positions and I’m surprised the Sheriff didn’t bring attention to it. (You can read more on the continuity of the board in Danni’s tumblr post here)
It might be important to note that Scott’s location (if he started in front of the bishop) corresponds with the move of a knight. If this was done on purpose or is a prop error is unknown, but it is interesting that Scott’s move is unexpected.
This could show that Scott’s actions and state of mind is important in the game. They’ve essentially moved him to an area where he’s of no use. Scott is a danger to the plan because we’ve seen how Scott doesn’t back down – he’s challenged the notion to simply kill Stiles. This is his best friend – his brother – and Scott would do anything to save him. This is the same for the Sheriff. The downfall of the nogitsune could be love – an emotion it can’t feed from.
If Scott’s pawn was in front of the bishop there would be no check, and even if Allison made a move, it would make Allison’s move suicide so it’ll be avoided – though, because she hasn’t been marked by the Oni she could be in danger of possession (or already is), she could throw herself into danger unknowingly.
If we look at it without the rules, ignoring whose turn it is, if Allison moves fast enough – before Peter can act, Allison can move to a position to checkmate the king with the bishop backing it up.
Allison’s piece being used to threaten the king relates to the times where Allison nearly killed Isaac and Lydia – almost as if those times were building up to an instance where she won’t snap out of it before damage is done.
It also coincides with what she told the Sheriff about not being sure she can trust Derek – trust could be the key to all of this; Derek can’t trust Chris not to use lethal force on Stiles and Chris can’t trust Sheriff to be objective – if they overcome these and work together then they all might survive the game.
Going back to the illegal checkmate Allison could make, it’s known as the “Suffocation Mate“ – the knight making the move and bishop covering escape – it’s an interesting choice of layout since it relates to what Stiles was talking about in 2×11 with Morrell, as well as how Morrell said she’d planned to kill Stiles (respiratory paralysis) in 3×20.
This could be foreshadowing of what happens next – where we see Stiles playing Go in the “white room” – the last time he was there, he had been drowned in the ice bath and it’s looking more and more likely that it’ll happen again.
Scott’s move could stall the checkmate and will give the real Stiles more time to fight.
This all ultimately comes down to the “Divine Move” – it’s a rare move in the game Go and teaches the importance of looking at the positions in the game and using a balance of tactic and strategy. Examining the board exposes the impossible positions and the manipulation to create a no-win scenario. They need to pull a Kirk and exploit the game and position themselves differently on the board yet act as if they’re oblivious to its manipulation and fool Void.
They can create a blind spot giving Scott – the piece Void wanted kept away – the opportunity to make a game changing move. How they play the board directly impacts Stiles’ game with the nogitsune and his chances of survival.
- Why are Jackson and Kate still on the board?!
- Why isn’t Morrell on the board, especially after she said that she wouldn’t hesitate to end Stiles (emissaries being overlooked yet again?)
- Kira, Noshiko, Sheriff, Lydia are also absent. Did Stiles run out of sticky page markers?
Or maybe the whole chessboard is irrelevant and I just spent all day thinking about it when it means nothing – other than Derek being king!
*for the chess layout I’m using the aerial shot of the chess board with the king and queen in the correct places