The article focuses on the image the discipline of International Relations (IR) projects of itself via visuals, particularly the image of chess on IR book covers. It points out the corroborative and critical role that images can play in defining the way we see IR. The article underlines particular features of visual metaphors, first pointing out their role in the epistemological process, and second, highlighting their capacity for voicing an expressive and captivating critique of the social world, which is enabled by the template they offer, a template that may be distorted and manipulated for expressing criticism. Finally, the article reflects on the image chess conveys about expectations of the kind of knowledge IR as a discipline could provide for “mastering” the world and identifying a winning strategy. Here, the image of chess is compared to insights offered by Clausewitz’s pendulum.