BCH

CIPC #194: NHL commercial

The truth is harsh, but it’s the truth nonetheless: chess isn’t very popular. If we take Belgium as an admittedly particularly bad example, we find less than four thousand members of the national chess federation. Given a population of about eleven million, this corresponds to less than half per mille. In contrast, the USA hockey website gives some six hundred fifteen thousand players, coaches, and officials.1 For a population of some three hundred million, this give about one and a half per mille. And you have to keep in mind that hockey is much more age-bound than chess is. Yet what do the hockeyers do to draw in more people? They compare their game to chess!

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CIPC #193: The black room

After amusing ourselves with some light-weight television series and some comedies, we now turn to more serious matters once again. The serious matter at hand is a 1935 film Boris Karloff  in the double role of twin brothers Gregor and Anton de Berghman. They are members of an old noble family, and the subjects of a prophecy that foretells that when twins will be born in the family again, one of them will murder the other in the eponymical black room, a room in the old family castle that, because of this prophecy, has been walled off. Gregor rules over the local village, his brother Anton has recently come back at the request of his brother.

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CIPC #192: Austin Powers: The spy who shagged me

We’ve had Tintin already on this blog, we’ve had Hercule Poirot, we’ve had Lucky Luke, we’ve had Devereaux. It’s time knock another famous fictional Belgian off the list: dr. Evil! He is the antagonist of the Austin Powers movies, a series of parodical films from the late nineties and the early nillies, starring Mike Myers in the title role, that of dr. Evil, and that of Fat Bastard as well. Today’s subject is the second instalment of the series. The plot is that Austin Powers’s famous mojo, which is irresistible to women, has been stolen. He has to go back in time to save it.

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CIPC #191: The odd couple S2 E9, Chess nuts

When I first watched Fawlty Towers I wasn’t precisely blown away, but the more sitcoms I watch the more I appreciate it. Take for example today’s subject: The odd couple, a sitcom broadcasted between 2015 and 2017. It features two unlikely friends who, by unlikely circumstances, have become unlikely housemates and go through unlikely adventures. They’re unlikely to be entertaining.

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CIPC #190: Kentucky Tavern ad

No interesting introduction this time. The New Yorker of February 2nd 1946 contains an advertisement for the Kentucky Tavern brand bourbon. It features a chess board. I’m going to talk about it.

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CIPC #189: Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure

For a brief period of time a the very end of the eighties and in the beginning of the nineties, Bill & Ted were big. Very, very big. The highly popular first movie, which we talk about more in a bit, appeared in 1989 and sparked two television series, a 1991 sequel and a second sequel this very year, almost three decades after the original. That original one is about two high school kids who are about to flunk their history class. As this would irreparably damage the spacetime-continuum, they get help from time travellers to collect some significant figures from all through history.

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CIPC #188: The rifleman S4 E7, The knight errant

Television may be a relatively recent phenomenon, but the ‘relatively’ in that sentence is becoming more pertinent with every passing year. Already, there are more than seven decades of television series, most of which have long since been forgotten. One of those series which I’m guessing not one person in a thousand still knows is The rifleman,1 which aired on ABC between 1958 and 1963. Its main star, Chuck Connors, was originally a professional base- and basketball player who turned actor in the early fifties. In the seventh episode of the fourth season, two of his character’s old friends turn up. They are quarrelling because they suspect each other of cheating during their chess games and they want their old buddy to be the arbiter for a duel. The latter convinces them to duel on the chessboard instead.

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CIPC #187: Thoroughbreds

Let’s continue this strange trend of recent movies appearing on this blog. Today’s victim is Thoroughbreds, a 2017 film starring Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. It is about two teenage girls, from rich families but deprived of both redeeming characters and natural speech inflections, who are plotting to kill the step-father of one of them. Before their plotting has gotten very far, they can be seen in the garden at a stone chessboard:

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CIPC #186: Abenteuer 1900 – Leben im Gutshaus E12, Warten auf Nachwuchs

Today, we feature our first German television series. Abenteuer 1900 – Leben im Gutshaus, German for “adventure 1900 – live on a manor”, was shown in 2004 on ARD. It is about a bunch of people trying to live like people in 1900. I do not know whether they succeeded or not, but I can assure you all that there are enough quaint dresses and gnädige Frau‘s to give it a convincing impression. In the twelfth episode, there is the following genuine-looking scene:

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CIPC #185: Nero Vol.123, Wonderboy

Flemish people of a certain age might remember Nero from the newspapers, in which he featured for decades.1 Regular readers of this blog might know him from a previous post. Other people are just referred to that link for context. Last time, Nero’s grandfather was the centre of the plot, this time, the spotlights are on his son, Adhemar. Anyone familiar with the series knows that he is a perpetually six-years old wunderkind who is a professor at Oxford and a Nobel prize winner.

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