There are several variations of this story.  Here is a very detailed one:

A master chess champion was walking through an art gallery and came across a painting that fascinated him. It was the painting of a young man sitting at a table playing a game of chess with the devil. There was a look of glee on the face of the enemy and of panic on the face of the young man. The name of the painting was “checkmate.” As the master chess champion observed the painting, he felt uncomfortable. He was a master chess champion and there was something about the painting that just wasn’t right. He called for the curator of the gallery and told him to take the painting down. When that didn’t work he demanded to meet the artist. That was arranged and the meeting took place. The master chess champion arrived at the meeting with a chessboard and the chess pieces. He set the board up exactly as the artist had arranged it in the painting and said, “There is something wrong with your painting.” When the artist inquired as to what that might be, the master chess champion stated, “You have entitled the painting “Checkmate,” but that implies that the young man has no more moves to make.” The chess champion reached over to the board and moved the young man’s king one space and said, “The devil is now checkmated. When the king has one more move, the game isn’t over”.

Here is a depiction…  Artist Bill Stephens



About pastorrobin

Hello. I pastor PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, TX. I am married to Erica, and we have 3 kids: Kennady, Jude, and Avery. All little ones! Visit our church site at

Posted on March 15, 2009, in Church Business, Daily Word. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. This is great because in real life we often see ourselves in “check” where it appears the devil has us blocked and it’s all over. But if we rely on the Master for our direction there will always be one more move to checkmate the devil. One Biblical example comes to mind where the servant of Elisha looked up and saw the Syrians completely surrounding them but when his spiritual eyes were opened, he saw God’s checkmate in progress. This is why we should never give up regardless of how a situation looks in our reality.

  2. joshuasthoughts

    This is a true dipiciton of a life of a Christian, a coralation that I have never noticed prior. The entire game of chess, you are protecting your King, and in doing so, whittling down your openents oppritunity of the success of his Kingdom. Makes you really think, every move we make as a follower of Christ, either benifits our King, or furthers the enemy. As with chess, you only get one chance at your “game”, and like it or not there is a time limit set, God does have verily another move, however the question I need to ask myself is, will I be on board when He makes it?

  3. Elizabeth Wharton

    This is one of those images that I think will stay with me forever. One more move, and God always knows what it is.

  4. It’s funny how my english teacher was talking about this painting and then everyone looked it up. This is a wonderful story and interpretation. It shows that there is always one more move.

  5. The checkmate by moving the King is not possible since the King can not give check (or checkmate). In this position the White King aslo can not move to discover a check mate against Black’s King.

    However, if it is white to move AND white is not in check AND the piece on g2 is a White Queen… then white checkmates black by capturing on a8.

    Another way to interpret the position might be if the piece on g2 is a Bishop, the pice on b6 is a pawn, and the white piece on e5 is a Rook AND the White King is not in check THEN the check mate is: 1.b7+ K (anywhere) 2.bxa8 (promotes to Queen or Rook) checkmate.

  6. wow, daniel. you seem to be very knowledgable in chess. good work.

  7. Chess Life (U.S. Chess Federation’s official magazine) ran the myth back in October of 1987 (or so).

    The story was told with Paul Morphy in a museum in Cincinnati. Apparently, in the story, Morphy was looking at a picture a similar picture where the forces of evil are on one side gloating while the forces of heaven on the other side look worried.

    The painting was supposedly done by an agnostic/atheist.

    Morphy offered to play the White side (to move) against anyone… and easily won.

    On the Black side, the pieces are a representation of the “seven deadly sins” while the White side are the “seven virtues.”

    Depending on the interpretation of what piece is what… it appears that White wins by sacrificing the Queen.

    Spiritually, we could say that God wins by sacrificing Jesus on the cross to save us.

    Another story is told of a similar painting that supposedly hangs in an European museum. Billy Graham apparently told the story with “the King has one more move.”

    The story is also told using Bobby Fischer as the chess master.

    I don’t think either of the last two accounts makes sense.

    Having one more move does not save the game. I doubt Bobby Fischer had any interest in defending good verses evil.

  8. i sense bible thumpers…

  9. I must disagree with the first commentator that “There will always BE one more move to checkmate the devil.” Satan was ALREADY checkmated for eternity 2000 years ago when our Master took His last breath from a cross on a Hill called Calvary, then said “It is finished,” and gave up the Ghost. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is when the devil was put in permanent check! And ain’t no mate of mine. Thank You, Jesus!

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