Culture, Film
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Computer Chess movie – a wonderful story of nerds

The definition of geek has changed considerably over time, and there is no longer a definitive meaning.  The difference between nerd and geek is “geeks get it done”.  Usually, “a bright young man turned inward, poorly socialized, who felt so little kinship with his own planet that he routinely travelled to the ones invented by his favourite authors”.

“Or who thought of that secret, dreamy place his computer took him to – somewhere exciting, a place more real than his own life, a land he could conquer, not a drab teenager’s room in his parents’ house.”


Special skills – drawing Ligers and secret ninja moves from the government.

Other definitions include:

  • A derogatory reference to a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person’s smooth operation within society.
  • A person who relates academic subjects to the real world outside of academia; for example, using multivariate calculus to determine how they should correctly optimize the dimensions of a pan to bake a cake
  • A more recent school of thought sees nerd as being a derogatory phrase, while geek is simply a description. It is taken to be someone who is an enthusiast, often in things outside of the mainstream spectrum. It may also describe immersion in a particular mainstream interest to an extreme that is beyond normality.
ouch! I fell on my keys

ouch! I fell on my keys

Geeks are clearly complicated people, you may know this already – maybe you are one, maybe you’ve met one, or even seen a lesser spotted geek in its natural habitat, i.e. the comic book shop or a sci-fi convention.

Maybe you have seen one in the Warhammer shop, role play re-enactments or The chess club… Chess is traditionally a notoriously furtile breeding ground for geeks.

Well, Now this has been committed to celluloid by US indie movie director Andrew Bujalski in a film called computer chess.

Andrew Bujalski is a talented (and a touch eccentric) writer and director who has come out of the slightly hit n miss us indie genre – Mumblecore.


Computer Chess is a glitchy and experimental comedy and is set in the early eighties. Shot with an ancient monochrome video camera in some anonymous hotel -The movie looks and sounds, on purpose, as though its footage has been lost then found. At first, you’d swear you were watching a documentary relying on pieced together scraps. In actual fact it is a genuinly strange and experimental film.

It is set at a geeky computer convention where the folk attending have to pit their own chess software programmes against each other. It appears to be a kind of Artificial Intelligence chess tournament but things get a little tangled… It begins to mingle with an encounter therapy conference for open minded couples in the same budget hotel.

Computer Chess is a compelling movie which has a strange VCR fetishism, the final scenes are equally as freaky… This movie is worth a visit and out on general release.

For more musings on chess, click here

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