At a school for gifted children GENE and ANTHONY, two highly intelligent and insanely rich brats, square off in a game of chess where they establish a tradition of committing a savagery act should they lose the game. When Anthony loses his first game he sacrifices his bunny rabbit by throwing it into a gasoline-powered wood-shredder. As the two grow older and the games continue, the sacrifices become more and more psychopathic and include cutting off one’s pinky finger and playing Russian roulette. When Gene and Anthony reach their fifties, their bitter rivalry reaches its peak as they challenge each other to play one last game in order to determined who’s the best. The two start a deadly chess game where the stakes are their own lives and where other human beings represent chess pieces on the board that are sacrificed throughout the game.
After the first chess piece is captured and the first murder has been committed, homicide detective JULIA HARPER takes the lead in the investigation. As more killings take place, Julia struggles and is left with only one clue; each victim is uniquely marked with a code of letters and numbers. As Julia probes deeper, she discovers that the codes are algebraic chess notations belonging to the human chess game that is played online. Chess grandmaster, MR. WACHOWSKI is brought in as a consultant, while Julia researches everything there is to know about chess in an effort to get inside the killer’s mind. Time is running out as investigators witness the next chess move on screen – a chess piece, which represents Julia’s female lover, is captured. The desperate hunt for the serial killer continues as the case starts to unravel.
A few days later the game comes to its conclusion; Anthony, who represents the black king, has been checkmated and is now expected to pay the ultimate price of his own life. Since honor is the only thing Anthony has left, he keeps his word and prepares for his suicide, but not without the smarts of a world-class chess player. As the police discover Anthony’s body, the crime scene reveals several indisputable clues that inevitably lead Julia and the FBI to Gene’s house. Of course, Gene vehemently denies the allegations, but ultimately becomes the victim of Anthony’s clever last move. At the end, Gene is arrested and convicted of mass murder. – Checkmate!