The Prisoner: Season 1, Episode 8

Checkmate (17 Aug. 1968)

TV Episode  |  Not Rated  |   |  Action, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 257 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

After waking up from an artificial sleep, Number 6 discovers a game of "live chess" on the Village green in which the "chessmen" are Villagers and the players sit in elevated chairs and ... See full summary »



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Title: Checkmate (17 Aug 1968)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Radd ...
Patricia Jessel ...
1st Psychiatrist
Rosalie Crutchley ...
George Coulouris ...
Man with the Stick
Angelo Muscat ...
Bee Duffell ...
2nd Psychiatrist
Basil Dignam ...
Michael Danvers-Walker ...
Painter (as Danvers Walker)
Denis Shaw ...
Victor Platt ...
Assistant Supervisor
Shivaun O'Casey ...
Geoffrey Reed ...
Terence Donovan ...


After waking up from an artificial sleep, Number 6 discovers a game of "live chess" on the Village green in which the "chessmen" are Villagers and the players sit in elevated chairs and call out the moves with megaphones. Recruited by one player as the Queen's pawn, he only reluctantly obeys his "master's" orders. After the match, Number 6 enacts a new escape plan that requires the complicity of a specific type of individual. He chooses one of the rooks from the chess game, a man known for his rebellious nature. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated



Release Date:

17 August 1968 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(restored original runtime)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Apart from the obvious metaphor that life is a game of chess, the episode deals with conformity and pressures to conform, particularly peer pressure. Parallels have been drawn with the Milgram experiment, Asch conformity experiments and the Stanford prison experiment. See more »


No 6 ticks people off on a chess article. However, it is clearly pasted onto another newspaper, as the paper is a different colour to the surrounding articles, which discuss Kidderminster and road deaths in the UK. See more »


Number 6: [referring to the chess game] Why do you use people?
Chessmaster: Some psychiatrists say it satisfies the desire for power. 'the only opportunity one gets here.
Number 6: That depends what side you're on.
Chessmaster: [quickly] I'm on my side.
Number 6: [quickly] Aren't we all.
Chessmaster: You must be new here. In time, most of us join the enemy - against ourselves.
See more »

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User Reviews

Chessboard as Metaphorical Representation of Despair
17 February 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If one casts out the disappointment that Number Six is playing a game of solitaire a card short, then we can really enjoy what happens here. First of all, a pawn in a chess match is the weakest link but can gain power by reaching the other side of the board. During a human chess match where the residents of the village act out the moves of the chess masters, Number Six finds a man who is a rook to be non-compliant. He begins to check him out as a possible co-conspirator against the forces in the village. This man is tech savvy and is able to mess with wires and conduits. They begin to plot a way to signal a ship to pick them up so they may escape. As a steady viewer of the show on must always be on the alert. Sometimes it's more to this as one who enjoys the chase as much as the result. A fly in the ointment is a woman who has fallen in love with Number Six and is fortified by Number Two. She is disruptive to the plan by design and basically "spies" for the authorities. She has trouble with her emotions and must be dealt with. Unfortunately, the chess match is just too much of a metaphor, especially when it comes to the weaker pieces

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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