Chess is a board game that appears to have great importance in the Homestuck universe. The Dersite and Prospitian forces on Skaia were stuck in a stalemate until John Egbert prototyped his kernelsprite, applying a harlequin theme to the appearances of both Dersite and Prospitian armies and making it possible for Derse to win the battle.
Nannaquin has said that Derse will always win this battle, which has been reflected in Wayward Vagabond's chess game between cans in which Black won via its queen, reflecting Jack's role after receiving the Black Queen's ring.
During the first glimpse of The Battlefield, many creatures of the expanded chess board are shown, including many 'pawns', knights (massive horses), bishops (stout yet towering characters in priestly garb), and rooks (mutated gargantuans with battlements protruding from their backs). The kings are by far the largest pieces, and the queens aren't on the battlefield at all. Because both were seen on their home worlds of Prospit and Derse, it appears that the queens stay in their kingdoms to administrate while the kings lead the troops in battle on Skaia. The Hubgrid in the SkaiaNet Laboratory also appears to be a chessboard, but it was 'unestablished' by a meteor before it was used in any such manner.
Doc Scratch has a chessboard which resembles Skaia, on which he and "some wicked troll girl" play a game of chess that he is troubled about, seeing as she is getting closer to beating him and he has no idea how this is possible. When first seen, the chessboard looks like the two- and three-times prototyped Battlefield, and later when Spades Slick visits, it looks like the four-times prototyped form. When visiting Scratch to fix Homestuck Disc 2, we see all three of these shapes of chessboard, indicating that the good Doctor is playing more than one game.
Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff play a game of chess. The board they play on does not have the right number of squares, and the squares are in fact many different shapes, as they might be expected to be in this comic, but it may also be a reference to the torn-up appearance of the battlefield. Bro begins to make a move with a
pewn pawn, and Jeff reminds him that pawns are not allowed to move in that particular fashion. Bro takes the pawn and tosses it in the toilet, and declares checkmate.
Calliope and Caliborn frequently play the game, and Calliope has won every single match except one. In that match, Caliborn asked Calliope if he could swap the starting positions of his king and queen, and when she agreed he disguised each piece as the other and left them in their regular positions (and presumably moving both pieces like a king, so that all moves remain legal but the deception is not broken). This resulted in Calliope going after the queen instead of the king, allowing Caliborn to get himself into position for a checkmate. Calliope angrily knocked all the pieces off the board and forfeited the match.
Calliope plays white and Caliborn plays black (though their pieces match their blood colors, lime and red respectively). Their rooks are shaped like Doc Scratch's clock, and their crocodile-shaped knights may be intended to represent cherubs in mating form. The starting position and the notation that follows are given from Calliope's/the reader's point of view (not knowing Black's king and queen are swapped).
- 1... Qe8
- 2.Rh4 Bc6
- 3.Nd6 Nxd6
- 4.Qxa5 Bxg2+ (the Bf3 given in the text is incorrect)
- 5.Kd2 b6
- 6.Bxd6+ Kf7
- 7.Rdf4+ Kg7
- 8.Qe5+ Kg6
- 9.Rhg4+ Kh7
At this point, Caliborn revealed that his king and queen were swapped; the rest of the notation reflects this.
- 10... Qc2+
- 11.Ke3 (not 11.Ke1, which loses to 11... Qc1+ 12.Ke2 Rc2+ 13.Kd3 Qd2#)
- 11... Rc3+ (the Re3 given in the text is incorrect)
- 12.Qxc3 Qxc3+
- 13.Ke2 e5
- 14.Rc4 Qf3+
- 15.Kd2 Qd5+
- 16.Kc2 Qxd6
- 17.Rc8+ Kd7
- 18.Rxh8 Qc5+
- 19.Kd2 Qd5+
- 20.Ke2?? Qf3+
- 21.Kd2 Qxg4
- 22.Rh7+ Kc6
- 23.Kc2?? Qe4+
- 24.Kb2 Qxh7
- 0-1 (White resigns by smashing the pieces off the board)
At the LabEdit
At the Ectobiology Lab, there are numerous chess pieces: Rooks, Knights, Bishops and Pawns; all of the pieces save the Monarchs. It would seem that the pieces being grown are analogous to the pieces seen in battle on The Battlefield. This also implies that all the inhabitants of both Derse and Prospit are grown in such laboratories scattered across The Veil.
Even further speculation gives explanation to the carapatic nature of the Agents, seeing as they are biologically chess pieces (also worthy of note is the styling of their bodies, which resemble the typical shapes of modern chess pieces). The fact that they are manufactured in laboratories also explains the barcodes printed on each citizen of both kingdoms.