Thaddeus "Turnover" Smith (Conrad) is a hard-as-nails detective. He is investigating the case of a serial strangler who preys on young women in the city. Complicating the case is that the locations in which the killer strikes seems to fit into no discernible pattern... until Smith happens across two young college students playing chess on campus. Consulting a chess historian, he finds that the killer is placing a chess board over a map of the city and striking in locations that corresponds to the moves in a chess game where a bright European up-and-comer named Guiseppe Verdi was defeated by a young woman who extricated herself from a lost game via a brilliant queen sacrifice. Now Turner must race to save the life of his young woman partner, Kelly-- who lives in the same area as the killer's projected next striking location; the area corresponding to the square on the board where the young woman sacrificed her queen in the chess game to defeat Guiseppe Verdi.