Written by Gerald Kelsey
Directed by Don Chaffey
Original air date: November 24, 1967
Number 6 becomes a pawn in a human game of chess.
Read the complete story summary at Wikipedia
Notes from the Prisoner chronology
This episode would seem to take place after
"Free for All", in which Number
6 tells the villagers he will find out who are the prisoners and
who are the warders, and successfully puts into practice a method of deducing who in
the Village is one or the other in this episode.
The chess champion is Number 14. Number 6 befriends him, seeing
he is a bit rebellious of Village rules, and he learns from the
man how to distinguish the prisoners from the warders through
their attitudes of arrogance or subservience.
Several different Number 14s appear in later stories.
The chess champion's opponent in the game is a man called Number 116. In
"Dance of the Dead", Number 6 stole the
lab coat with badge
116 on it. In "The General", a female nurse wears the number.
Number 6 assumes the position of the white queen's pawn in the
human chess game. This may be a nod to Lewis Carroll's 1871
novel Through the Looking-Glass in which Alice, at one
point, becomes the White Queen's pawn.
It's possible to play along with the chess moves in the game
until about 5:22 on the DVD, when Number 116 announces the move
"Bishop to Knight4." But, from the previous plays, there is no
way for him to move a bishop to a Knight4 space. After this, the human chess game
does not make much sense; bits may have been cut from the
scene for timel.
At 5:46 on the DVD, Number 2 is conversing with a man badged as
Number 56, who is observing the human chess game over the
surveillance cameras. In "Arrival",
one the storekeeper's two observed numbers was Number 56 (the
other being Number 19, which the storekeeper is still wearing in
this very episode). The most odd thing though is that, near the
end of the episode, one of Number 6's cohorts in the escape
attempt from the Village (at 44:31) is also wearing a Number 56
Number 56 badge has appeared on a number of individuals
throughout the series.
The Butler is following the game from the balcony of the Green
Dome, apparently mimicking each move on a standard chess board
in front of him. Is he doing this just for his own
entertainment? Could he be conducting his own psychological
analysis of the participants based on their moves?
The scene from 6:25-6:33 on the DVD implies that the chess
champion's megaphone is tied in wirelessly with several of the
loudspeakers around the grass playing-board area.
The rook of the human chess game rebels after several plays and
is removed to the hospital for "treatment". He is Number 53 and
one of the prisoners Number 6 recruits for his escape plan. He
is generally referred to as "the Rook" throughout the episode.
At 10:05 on the DVD, a storekeeper places a doll in the display
window; notice that it is the same sort of doll that greeted
Number 6, holding the card "your home from home", in his apartment
Number 2 allows Number 6 to accompany him to the hospital to see
how Number 53 is faring after being taken away during the chess
game. Number 2 informs him that 53 is being treated in a manner
based on Pavlov's experiments. This is a reference to the
experiments of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who measured
the responses of dogs to various stimuli and found that, with
repetition, dogs would anticipate a reward, such as food, when
exposed to a repeated stimuli preceding the reward. His
experiments became colloquially known as the "Pavlov's dog"
The doctor who treats Number 53 is Number 23. Two different
Number 23s appeared in
"Free for All" as two different
Labour Exchange Managers. Not to mention the Number 23s who
appear in "The Chimes of Big
Ben" and "Hammer Into Anvil".
The nurse who assists Number 23 in Number 51.
One of the men sitting at the fountain at 15:02 on the DVD is
Number 62 appears in the aversion therapy chamber in
"A Change of Mind".
After looking at Number 62, Number 6 crosses out an "8" on his
newspaper chessboard. What does "8" have to do with 62? And, if
you look closely, you'll see he's actually crossed off two 8's.
As he converses with Number 53 in the garden at 18:44 on the
DVD, Number 6 turns to look at the human chess game currently
being played...and he is one of the pawns in the game! The
editor used footage of Number 6's earlier game and inserted it
The painter approached by Number 6 and Number 53 at 20:08 on the
DVD is Number 42. In
"Dance of the Dead",
Number 6's old colleague, Roland Walter Dutton, was Number 42.
Dutton seemingly died in that episode, so it makes some sense
that the number might be reused...but so soon? And another
Number 42 appears in
"A Change of Mind".
At the hospital, Number 6 is given a word association test by
During the word association test, to the word "hope", Number 6
responds, "anchor". When Number 39 questions the response, he
tells her the Hope and Anchor is a pub he used to drink at. He
is probably referring to the pub by that name in the borough of
Islington in London.
When Number 39 states the word "free", Number 6 responds "for
all". This may be a reference to the episode
"Free for All", in
which Number 6 ran for the post of Number 2. (Of course, "free
for all" is also a phrase used to mean a disorganized fight or
The woman who is brainwashed into falling in love with Number 6
is Number 8. This was also the number of Nadia, the woman who helped
Number 6 "escape" in
"The Chimes of Big Ben"
and turned out to be working for the powers-that-be. And The Kid
in "Living in Harmony" is also Number 8.
Looking at the psychological reports on Number 6 and finding him
to have "aggressive tendencies", Number 23 recommends a
leukotomy on him to Number 2. "Leukotomy" was the original term
for what is now known as a lobotomy, the severing of the
connections to the prefrontal cortex of the brain as a treatment
for some kinds of psychoses, mostly performed in the 1940s-50s
and now largely unpracticed and considered unnecessarily harsh
and cruel treatment more ably treated by medications.
At 32:57 on the DVD, the door in Number 6's apartment opens to allow
Number 8 to exit before she has even turned around to face it!
Perhaps the door is programmed to open at curfew time (as was
announced about one minute earlier) if a resident still has a
guest present in their home.
The shot of two men playing with a toy boat and sand fort at
33:11 on the DVD also appeared in
"The Chimes of Big Ben".
At 34:32 on the DVD, the umbrella that was next to the woman
sunbathing in a purple bathing suit just seconds earlier has
The boat that answers Number 6's distress call is the MS
Polotska. "MS" stands for "motor ship". This same boat
later appears as the gunrunners' boat in
Happy Returns". The real boat used for these episodes was a
privately-owned boat rented by the production called the
On his distress call, Number 6 claims to be TransOcean flight
TransOcean appears to be a fictional airline for the story, but
there was a TransOcean Airlines from 1946-1960.
During Number 6's attempted escape, Number 56 in the Control
Room is working with Number 269.
A different Number 269 appears in "The Schizoid Man".
Number 6 punches one of the lighthouse guardians and sends him
flying out the open archway of the tower at 42:39 on the DVD. A
splash is heard to indicate the man landed in the water. But
various shots of the tower in this and other episodes does not
appear to show a body of water anywhere near close enough to
catch a falling body! I guess the producers threw in the sound
effect because they didn't want it to appear that Number 6 had
cold-bloodedly just killed someone!
The Number 2 in this episode would seem to be a black belt in
some form of martial art, as he is wearing one over his martial
arts uniform. He is also seen to break a wooden board in half
with one hand chop.
At the end of the episode, the Butler places the queen's pawn
back on the chessboard in Number 2's office, indicative of
Number 6's return to the Village (he was the queen's pawn in
the human chess game at the beginning of the episode).