BCH

CIPC #111: The smurfs, Vol.11: The Olympic Smurfs

In the more than two years I have been discussing chess in popular culture on this blog, I have seen the most horrible atrocities being committed against the noble game of chess. I have seen wrongly set-up boards. I have heard unintelligible pretend chess babble. I have seen illegal positions, illegal moves, even wrong boards. But I have never, never, never seen something quite as horrible as our subject for today. Today we take on the smurfs again. In the eleventh volume of the comic series in the middle of the sixth page,1 we are confronted by the following gruesome image:

Read more

CIPC #110: Hummel, Schachpartie im Palais Voss, Berlin

Originally, this was planned to be a sequel to last week’s post. I was going to dissect another slightly less obscure 19th century German painting. I had an even lower quality picture and everything – but then I found out that today’s subject is actually not that obscure! The painter, Johann Erdmann Hummel, has his own Wikipedia page in six different languages.1 On the English version, there is even a picture of the Schachpartie im Palais Voss which is reproduced below. For a moment, I was happy that I didn’t have to resort to another crappy mobile phone picture. Then I realised that something more intriguing was going on.

Read more

CIPC #109: Haaga, Schachstilleben

Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that you end up in Hannover. Assume, still completely hypothetically, that you have strolled through the Herrenhäuser Gärten and around the Maschsee, that you have noticed that the curved lift in the Neues Rathaus is not in operation, and that the famous Roten Faden is not as trustworthy as its mythological counterpart that guided Theseus out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. What do you do? Well, you go to the Landesmuseum1 to see a pretty standard collection of stuffed animals and fossils and a rather extensive gallery with a few pretty nice paintings, some horrible ones, and a whole load of middle-of-the-road ones. One of the last category is our subject today: Eduard Haaga’s Schachstilleben.

Read more

CIPC #108: Toyota Tacoma commercial

Having a contest with the grim reaper with one’s life at stake is a very old trope. Older than chess, in fact. But in medieval times, as the game became popular, a nice game of chess against the bony one became a standard conclusion to the life of a character in a novel. The most famous example is no doubt in Bergman’s The seventh seal, but I’m reserving that for a special occasion – like hell freezing over, perhaps. But I have no problem talking about references to said film, like in this Toyota commercial hailing from I think 2013. The plot is that the Toyota Tacoma is playing a game of chess against the grim reaper, but it’s cheating! With its backup camera, it’s keeping an eye on a chess book placed on the ground behind it.

Read more

CIPC #107: The big bang theory, S5 E18: The werewolf transformation

If you’ve been living under a rock for half your life, you are probably an invertebrate. Also, you might not know about The big bang theory.1 It is a TV-series about a quartet of nerdy roommates, their dumb blonde neighbour Penny, and a wide cast of supporting characters, the main selling point of the show apparently being that they are all absolutely insufferable. But four of the protagonists are supposed to be smart! This means that they play chess, so we will have to suffer through at least some of it. Through the 18th episode of the 5th season, for example, where we find Leonard (played by Belgian born Johnny Galecki) and his crush Penny (Kaley Cuoco) at the board.

Read more

CIPC #106: Ao no ekusoshisuto, Chapter 15

Today I’m absolutely in terra incognita, but sooner or later it had to happen. In this day and age, one cannot be a critic of popular culture without ending up talking about manga. So here we go. Okay. Well. Today’s subject is some kind of mango. Sorry, manga. Which is a general term for Japanese comics. That, in a nutshell, was pretty much my complete knowledge about the topic, so I headed to Wikipedia. Apparently, the title of the series means Blue exorcist and, presumably, it deals with an exorcist who’s blue –  whether that’s blue in the literal or figurative sense, or – God forbid, both – I don’t know. And frankly, I don’t care. The only thing I care about is: where is the chess? How is the chess? Where does it come from? Where does it go? 1

Read more

CIPC #105: The bone collector

The bone collector. With a title like that, who can blame me that I was expecting a thrilling tale of ruthless rivalry, fierce competition, and enormous piles of bones in a nice Victorian setting, in short, that I was expecting an in-depth documentary about the Marsh and Cope bone wars? But, alas, it was not to be. There are no triceratopses, no allosauruses, in fact, no palaeontological digs at all. There is just a dime-a-dollar giallo knock-of with a magnificently stupid plot centred around Denzel Washington playing a quadriplegic ex-police detective who guides a rather clueless patrol officer (Angelina Jolie) through crime scene after crime scene in search for the murderer du jour because he thinks she’s talented, for a reason which remains more of a mystery than who the killer is.1 At the beginning of the film, before the bodies start hitting the floor (or river, as the case may be), Denzel spends his time playing chess with his voice controlled computer.

Read more

CIPC #104: The Strokes, You only live once

This is perhaps the hardest one I have ever talked about. But it’s not my fault! No, the culprit is Julian Casablancas,1 or whoever came up with the name of this band. The Strokes! I understand that they were probably just scrambling to find a noun X which had not been used as The X’s for a band name, but why did they have to go with stroke? Was meningitis already taken? Was conjugacy class not an option? That would be perfect for a group with five members! But no, they had to pick stroke and now I have to somehow avoid making a different strokes for different folks’ joke. Well that’s just great.

Read more

CIPC #103: Bertina Henrichs, Die Schachspielerin

The long-time readers of this blog might remember how, quite a while ago, I made a few blog posts about my impressions while watching movies which heavily feature chess. I have also made some others about books. Why not combine both types of blog post? Why not read a book in which chess plays an important role an write down my thoughts while reading? There a few such books, but the most famous ones, like Nabokov’s Luzhin Defense and Zweig’s Schachnovelle carefully avoid the sort of ridiculousness which makes for good blog posts. This is probably not going to be a problem in today’s subject, Bertina Henrichs Die Schachspielerin.1 It was translated by Claudia Steinitz, whose name is probably the closest connection this book has to actual chess. Let’s see what happens. Apart from spoilers, that is.

Read more

CIPC #102: Grand master rabbit

I’m not really sure were this cartoon comes from. It can easily be found on YouTube or Dailymotion, but none of the about five bazillion uploads seems to be the original. The internet movie database remains completely silent on its existence. According to the Looney tunes fanwiki, one of the few places that mentions it at all, it appeared first on the official Looney Tunes website somewhere in the early 2000s, but who made it, where, and when exactly I have no idea. The animation is certainly not up to par with the old cartoons from, say, the fifties, it is shorter than the oldies, and many of the jokes are straight copies from the golden age of the Looney Tunes but, as far as webcartoons go, you could do a lot worse.

Read more

Pages:1234567...12»

Recently added tournaments