YouTube Transcription #29 Derren Brown plays chess

Derren (0:27): An average-to-good chess player normally would think about two or three moves ahead in a game; a chess grandmaster can think anything up to twenty moves ahead. In the next room I’ve got nine of the county’s top chess players; some of them are rising stars on the circuit, er, there’s international masters in there, and not one but four world-rated grandmasters. I’m going to play chess with them all simultaneously. Using the skills that I’ve learnt, and the techniques that I’ve developed over the years, I’m going to go in there and absolutely lie to them. I’m hoping the lies that I tell will give me the psychological edge to beat a few of them, and hopefully even a grandmaster.  And afterwards I’ll tell you how I did it. Do bear in mind as you watch this my chess is sh**!
Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you so much for your time. So, I’m going to attempt to play nine games of chess with you simultaneously. My chess is very good; obviously nowhere near as good as your standards, though I have spent a year planning this. During that time I’ve been reading transcripts and I’ve been trying to familiarize myself with your games. OK? I’m going to give this… what’s your name? Graham. I’m going to ask you to hold on to that for a second. Have you got an inside pocket you could put that in? That would be superb, and hang onto that; I’ll ask you for that at the end. Terrific, thank you. I’m going to ask you to all take a seat; your names are all on the tables, so please find your place. Off you go.
Thank you, guys. Just one more thing I should point out, there are no computers, I’m not linked to any supercomputer for this, John there’s no earpieces, yeah? This is all genuinely above board. Ok, Graham, good luck.
John: I lost. I was beaten by the better man. I thought I was playing ok, but he just came out with some really good moves. I could have played on at the end, but I was just a whole rook down, so I thought I’d put myself out of my misery.
Nathan: It’s never good to lose; it’s one of the worst things in chess, the worst thing. I got the opening a bit wrong, and from then on it was all a bit downhill.
Johnathan: It’s always nice to win. For fifteen moves or so I felt I was playing a leading grandmaster opponent.
Desmond: I was quite surprised, yeah, by his standard. I was a bit lucky, he actually, in the end, managed a draw.
Paul: It was close in the end but I just came through with a nice combination.
Derren: Will you count the number of your own pieces that are left on the board before you leave; it’ll be important for later.
Graham: I drew my game, erm, I think I made two small mistakes.
Julian: I’ve been British champion four times, so I’ve been one of England’s top players for about the last fifteen years. What he’s done today is extremely impressive.
Chris: Unfortunately, I lost. You win some, you lose some. I lost this one.
Robert: I’ve played a grandmaster, and I think Derren is on a par with them, at least!

Derren: Thank you so much for your time and expertise today, the results of that were, I guess, I won at four tables, lost at three and then drew against the other two so that technically would be a win for me against you as a group, and that beating two grandmasters, I’m delighted. One last thing before you go, I’m just wondering if this number means anything to you… no, ok well I asked you to count up the number of pieces left of your own colour on the board, so Graham, table number one, how many pieces were left of your own colour? Seven pieces of your own colour, erm, that’s a mistake there, that should be a seven. Ok, and next table… …so that’s obviously just a memory feat, one of several memory feats I was indulging in during that game. erm, I gave you an envelope, sorry, at the very start, could you, I don’t want to touch it, could you just come round here for me and open it? Just stand there for me, that’ll be great. Take out what’s inside, just give me the envelope, I’ll get rid of that. Cheers, thank you very much indeed. Yeah, if you just take that there… er, what I hope will keep you up all night is how I was trying to influence those games desperately, as I was playing, to end up precisely with that result. 6, mistake, 117106118105… pretty much spot on.
Graham: It’s been in my pocket all the time.
Derren: I have not touched it, no. Thank you so much for your attention and your time and everything today, I really appreciate it. Graham, you can keep this…

Graham: For him to pull out a whole series of numbers based on nine separate games of chess; that is astonishing. I can guarantee that envelope stayed, from the moment he gave it me at the start to after the results were announced, in this pocket. There was no cheating, I’d not been asked to do anything by Derren, I just turned up, played chess, and looked after an envelope. This game finished because it was a draw, at some random point, and yet he’s predicted the number of pieces left in the games. This is going to keep me awake tonight.

Derren: Right! So here’s how you play chess in a room of top chess players: First of all mentally divide them into pairs, so with eight players that’s four pairs of two. And behind me is one of those pairs. At table number one we had Graham Leeand I had him mentally paired off with Desmond Tan over at table number five, over the other side of the room. Graham was playing white and Desmond was playing black. Graham’s opening move of the game was pawn to E4. I remembered that move; I didn’t have to respond at that point, and when I got round to table number five, Desmond’s table, I merely repeated that move, pawn to E4. Desmond’s response was pawn to C5. I remember that response and when I get back to Graham on number one I just mirror Desmond’s move, pawn to C5. I’m not actually playing chess with either of them. I’m merely remembering their moves and then mirroring them across on the other person’s table. In fact, they’re playing chess with each other! When playing all nine, it’s a lot more complicated, so I start at table one and I remember the opening. I go to two and remember that opening, and the same with three and four; and at five I play the opening from table one and remember that response. On six I play the opening from two and remember that response. On seven I play three’s opening and remember that and on eight I do the same from table four. We’ll leave table nine for the moment. Back to one, and I play the response from five and remember this new response and so on, and so on around the board remembering the responses from one side of the room and playing them on the other side. That would give me an equal number of wins and loses against the group, as half will win or lose against the other half. So how, then, do I come out on top? Well, that’s where table nine comes in. In amongst everything else I’m playing one real game of chess at table nine. Robert is the least-strong player of the group, and as long as I beat him the result will tip in my favour. That’s how I win. As for how I predicted the number of pieces left on each board, I genuinely can’t remember. Goodnight.