BCH

CIPC #26: Columbo S2 E7 The most dangerous match

Today’s victim, Columbo, is an American detective series from the seventies. It is one of the more interesting examples of the genre. One of the idiosyncrasies of the show is that the murder is shown at the very beginning, in full detail, including the murderer’s identity. This makes keeping up the tension a bit harder, but generally it works out pretty well.1 The other peculiarity of the show is lieutenant Columbo himself. He is not the self-confident type, like Jane from The Mentalist or DCI Barnaby from Midsomer Murders, which makes sense since he is apparently based on Chesterton’s Father Brown.2 But enough talking, let’s see some chess!

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CIPC #25: Pepsi Cola advertisement

Nowadays, there is a light version of pretty much every foodstuff you can think of. There’s light soft drinks, there’s light chips, there’s light fries – pretty soon, I expect the light fried stick of butter will hit the markets. But I can’t imagine the situation was anything like this in 1957. 1957! Hell, that’s even before the Atkins diet was published! Nevertheless, the following advertisement for Pepsi boasts that it is ‘reduced in calories’1 just like modern publicity does.

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BOBCH #2: Petrosian vs. Hazai (1970)

By now, there are several thousands of games on this site. How is one supposed to find games that are interesting? The answer is that one is not. One can, from now, look at the Best Of Belgian Chess History posts to find some of the more interesting ones. One can even make suggestions to the webmaster. One is very lucky, indeed.

The scene:

For years, the chess club of the small town of Schilde organised an international tournament. In fact, it was the only international in Belgium for years and attracted international stars like Ljubojevic, Speelman, Nikolić, and Ehlvest. In 1970, the 6th  edition was underway. Before the last round, Burkhard Hemmert was leading the field with half a point on Christofoor Baljon and Arshak Petrosian. Hemmert was hanging on by a thread against Radulović and Baljon never got much against De Jonghe. Petrosian, on the other hand, got a winning position against Hazai. Suddenly, his opponent gave away his queen.

The protagonists:

White: Arshak Petrosian, 16 years old

Although he is not very well-known in Western chess circles, Arshak Petrosian (no relation to Tigran the great) was an extraordinary player, winning the Armenian championship twice, gaining the GM title in 1984 and, dixit chessmetrics, reaching as high as number 45 in the world. Nowadays, he mainly works as a trainer and coach. Of course, in 1970 this was all yet to come: he was a very young talent from the Soviet Union in a small town for what, as far as I can ascertain, was his first tournament outside the USSR.

Black: László Hazai, 17 years old

Hazai is a few months older than Petrosian but never climbed quite as high. He did win the IM title (in 1977) and did reach the top 100 (reaching place 98), but he did not earn the GM title and did not break the top 50. He, too, seems to be mainly active as coach nowadays.

Why did I pick this game?

Because it is a classic of chess curiosities. It is a rare example of a complete blockade against a queen. The move 45….Qb6 reached place 38 in Krabbé’s list of the 110 most fantastic moves ever played.

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CIPC #24: Midsomer murders S4 E5 The sleeper under the hill

Maybe we should let the nectar of nostalgia linger just a little while longer. Maybe we should revisit another old friend: DCI Barnaby from Midsomer murders. In this episode, he’s investigating what appears to be a ritual murder in the local Stonehenge rip-off. But that’s not the reason I picked this particular episode. Nor did I pick it because I get to recycle the opening line from the last post.1 No, I choose this episode because it showcases a travesty which hitherto has escaped the whips and scorns of my avenging keyboard. Barnaby is talking with a possible suspect about local history. During the conversation, the latter makes a move on a chess board on his table. Here it is:

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CIPC #23: Agatha Christie’s Poirot S6 E4 Dumb witness

Oh! sweet nectar of nostalgia
linger longer, just a while,
let the taste of distant mem’ries
draw a brief and sadden’d smile

…with which somewhat pompous words I just want to say that we’re going to revisit an old friend this week: we’re meeting the Hercule Poirot again! Last time we met the famous detective (and his fabulous ‘stache!) he was winning a casual game against a butler in order to finish a case from his youth. This time, Poirot is trying to clear the name of Bob, a fox terrier supposed to have accidentally caused the death of its mistress. This keeps him too busy to play chess himself, but he can still meet someone who does. Let’s have a look:

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CIPC #22: Mozart in the jungle S1 E2 Fifth chair

Mozart in the jungle is an Amazon original series based on a book of the same name. It focuses on an New York-based up-and-coming oboist’s struggle to make it in the world of professional orchestra players. The show is overall pretty good, with the main attraction probably being Gael García Bernal who plays the slightly eccentric conductor Rodrigo.1 In the second episode of the series, where our protagonist gets to play fifth oboe in Mahler’s 8th symphony, we see Rodrigo exploring his new home town New York. As part of this exploration he plays chess against a local hustler.

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BOBCH #1: Beyen vs. Filip (1971)

By now, there are several thousands of games on this site. How is one supposed to find games that are interesting? The answer is that one is not. One can, from now, look at the Best Of Belgian Chess History posts to find some of the more interesting ones. One can even make suggestions to the webmaster. One is very lucky, indeed.

The scene:

In 1971, the European team championship was not held in a Swiss system, but rather with preliminary groups, much like in football. And lo! it came to pass that the strong Czechoslovakian team travelled to the distant city of Ostend, in order to make minced meat out of their Belgian opponents. The first day, the Belgian faced their formidable opponents and were crushed. Boey managed to snatch half a point against Hort, but all other games were lost. Then came the second day…

The protagonists:

White: Roland Beyen, 39 years old, rating: 2280

When this game was played, Beyen had been a national top player for quite some time. He represented Belgium in four olimpiads and countless matches. In the national club championship he was Ostend’s trusted first board. He is more well-known now as a correspondence player. He earned the IMC title, but that had not happened yet in 1971.

Black: GM Miroslav Filip, 43 years old, rating: 2510

Filip was a world-class player. He won the GM title in 1955, qualified twice for the candidates’ tournament and chessmetrics puts him as high as number 17 in the world in 1961. At the time of this game, he was still number 63 on the FIDE list. By then, he had won the Czechoslovakian championship three times. On the final of the previous European team championship, he had won the gold medal on board 2 before Korchnoi. Clearly, he is the upperdog.

Why did I pick this game?

Because of white’s 28th move: a magnificent tactical trick which, according to Tim Krabbé’s website, was really due to Dunkelblum.

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CIPC #21: Midsomer Murders S15 E5 The Sicilian defence

It doesn’t happen very often that a long-running television show dedicates an entire episode to chess, but when it happens – oh boy! Episode 5 of season 15 of British detective series Midsomer murders is just such an episode. It is called the Sicilian defence and is about a murderer killing members of the local chess club after the daughter of one of them has woken up from a coma. It is an hour and a half long and in this time it provides enough material to keep this blog going for a whole year, so I’m not going to expound every error and every unlikely position. Let’s just focus on one short scene of the camera panning over a series of chess boards in a supposedly important tournament. This is the first board we see:

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CIPC #20: Promofilm liga Antwerpen

What is the last place where you would expect an impossible position to appear on the chessboard? I don’t know precisely what my own answer to this question would be, but I think I would consider “in a promotional spot for a chess federation” a pretty good answer. First of all, you wouldn’t even expect such a promotional spot to exist. Secondly, you would expect a chess federation to take a more or less reasonable position for such a spot, even if it’s just out of habit. Not so, apparently. I was looking around on the website of the Antwerp league chess federation,1 and saw that there was a promofilm. Out of curiosity I decided to watch the full 45 seconds, and then I was confronted by this:

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CIPC #19: Lang leve de koningin

Due to enormous success1 the last time I commented on a chess-themed movie, I will do it again. This time, the focus will be on a Dutch movie, because focusing on obscure films in minor European languages is a sure-fire way to bring in more hits. It is called, as the brighter reader might have gleaned from this post’s title, Lang leve de koningin (which can be translated as Long live the queen2) and was written by Euwe’s granddaughter Esmé Lammers. It won a prize for best Dutch film of the year, but that’s like winning a concours d’élégance for Hyundai Matrices. Let’s see what it gives.

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