In part 2 of the 1989 Dr Who serial The Curse of Fenric, at around the 14:40 mark. Commander Millington orders that all chess sets on the base are to be burnt.

Commander Millington at his desk signing a paper.  The close caption reads "And if there are any chess sets in the camp, I want them burnt."

Commander Millington also later wires a chessboard to explode.

The order to burn the chess sets is before the new inscription is translated, and Fenric is released.

While the exploding chessboard is after.

While Millington has a knowledge of Nordic mythology, he is not possessed by Fenric, and does not directly mention the specific purpose of the chess sets as a representation of the battle between the Doctor and Fenric.

Is any reason provided, either in or out of universe, on why Millington, specifically, wants the chess sets destroyed?

  • 2
    Because he just lost a game and he is a sore loser?
    – JK.
    Nov 30, 2023 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


Fenric was directly manipulating people and, therfore, events, making Millington just one of the pawns in his long game.

Having been trapped in the Shadow Dimension after failing to solve a chess problem presented by the Doctor, Fenric would make the attempt again but needed help with the solution from Ace.

Fenric impelled Millington to order all chess sets destroyed knowing that two sets would remain and that locating and destroying the library set would set Ace on a path to retrieve the last set on base (in the young moher's suitcase) send the young mother and her baby to her grandmothers address. The baby would grow up to give birth to Ace in 1973 and Ace would then grow up, meet the Doctor and travel in time and space, arrive at this point in 1943, work out the solution and give it to Fenric.

  • Thats a lot of effort just to be able to ask Ace for help with a chess problem... surely there were others that would have been better. Like the current world champ at the time, Mikhail Botvinnik. Or even the current British champ, probably C. H. O'D. Alexander I think.
    – JK.
    Dec 6, 2023 at 0:09

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