Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter  in association with Trouper Productions bring you one of the more unusual chess matches you will ever see: Paul Rudd vs Stephen Hawking in a game of Quantum Chess, as narrated by Keanu Reeves.

The game is real and the stakes are high as the future of humanity hangs in the balance. Can Paul Rudd, an actor, beat Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our generation, in a game of chess that will determine the future of humanity? Most likely not. Unless …


The video is narrated by “future Keanu Reeves” and was debuted at the Caltech event One Entangled Evening, which kicked off a special one-day conference on the future of quantum technology.

Scripted in Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) and directed by Bill & Ted actor and director Alex Winter, the short video had Hollywood actor Paul Rudd challenging Dr. Hawking to a game of quantum chess.

The first version of quantum chess was developed by undergraduate student Alice Wismath, at Queen’s University. It was based on rules set out by her professor, Selim Akl, which overlay the principles of quantum superposition onto the rules of standard chess. In her versions, every piece but the king is in a quantum superposition of two equivalent states. So for example, the piece located in the queen spot may be either a queen or a rook, and collapses into one of its two possibilities when it’s either moved or captured. The same is true of other comparably powered pieces.

Another version, designed by USC graduate Chris Cantwell for IQIM, has a different approach. The superposition is spatial: a single piece can occupy two squares at the same time with equal probability. Players may also use quantum entanglement, allowing a piece to be linked to another via superimposition.  The collapse of one will cause the other to collapse. This version makes it significantly harder for a player to capture pieces as neither player knows exactly where any superpositioned piece is at any one time.

This version of Quantum Chess is actually being developed as a playable game, and will be the subject of a Kickstarter campaign beginning on February 2.

Quantum Chess Pieces – Alpha Style
by Ben Lee Hosac
on Sketchfab


Quantum Chess Developer: Chris Cantwell, a graduate student in physics at USC

Director: Alex Winter
Producers: Devorah DeVries (Trouper Productions) and Spyridon Michalakis (Caltech)
Associate Producer: Damir Omic
Director of Photography: Joe DeSalvo
Graphics: Jonathan Pope
Script: Jose M. Gonzalez
Story: Gorjan Alagic, Chris Cantwell, Jose M. Gonzalez and Spyridon Michalakis
Editor: Chris Catanach (Stitch Studios)