CIPC #44: Smirnoff advertisement

Sometimes I have serious difficulty starting one of these posts. For example, what could I possibly tell about Smirnoff that not everybody knows already? The name alone brings back fond college memories for whole generations. An originally Russian invention, it has been appreciated all over the world and, quite possibly, far beyond that. For decades already. Yes, it is one of the most popular compactifications in all of topology. But apparently, it’s also a drink. A vodka, I believe. As such, it has been the subject of the interesting advertisement below.1
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CIPC #43: Universum Bremen

Suppose for a moment that by some strange twist of fate you end up in Bremen for a day or two. Maybe the Deutsche Bahn has stranded you there, or perhaps the norns have dropped a stitch somewhere – whatever. You go to see the Bremen town musicians, you walk through the Schnoor, hoping against hope that something noteworthy will be visible around the corner, you marvel at the ugliness of the Bürgerschaft building. In a last ditch attempt to keep busy you go to see the windmill. But then? What then? You will have to go to Universum. And you might encounter this:

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CIPC #42: Aladdin

Received opinion has it that chess originated in India, slowly evolving as it spread westwards from the original chaturaga into the modern version that is played by thousands all over the world. The game was brought to Europe through contact with Persia, so it is not surprising that when a tale from one thousand and one nights is turned into a movie, chess turned up. It is also not surprising that Disney would make a movie out of such a tale. To make a reasonably short story fit in one paragraph, there is a chess scene in Aladdin. Here’s a still shot:

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CIPC #41: House of Cards, S1 E10

Netflix original is one of those phrases which a mere twenty years ago would have been nonsensical, but which is now as common as the cold. The first such series, setting aside co-productions, was House of cards, a political drama which had its first season in 2013. It’s focus is on Frank Underwood and his shady shenanigans. It’s not really my cup of tea – a corrupt politician is a less appealing1 main character to me than a cataleptic caterpillar – but I seem to be in a minority when it comes to that: the series is hugely popular.2

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CIPC #40: MST3K S4 E11, The magic sword

The faithful readers of this blog might remember how enthusiastic I was about Mystery science theater 3000. Aforesaid readers will, then, not be surprised to see MST3K make a second appearance. The episode we’re talking about this time spotlights a 1962 fantasy film. According to wikipedia, it is loosely based on the legend of St. George and the dragon, but I don’t know whether that’s really true. I, for one, have seen the damn movie and I am familiar with the legend, but I didn’t notice any non-superficial similarities. However, it was written by the notorious Bert I. Gordon, which explains the less than stellar plot.

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CIPC #39: Alfred J. Kwak S1 E12, Alfred’s chess adventure

Alfred J. Kwak is an invention of multitalented Dutchman Herman van Veen.1 It is a show about an orphaned duck who was brought up by a mole and who, inevitably, gets into all sorts of adventures. The main difference between Alfred J. Kwak and other children shows is that Alfred’s adventures tend to be, perhaps, a bit more serious and more focused on a long-term plot. Such is not the case, however with the subject of today’s post. It is just a whimsical winter tale about a game of chess between Alfred and his foster father Henk. It starts of rather promising: there is a drawing of colours, and with remarkable speed the Polerio variation of the two knight’s game appears on the board. We cut to another scene and when we come back, we see this:

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BOBCH #4: Dely vs. Boey (1974)

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:

It’s the beginning of the seventies. The chess world is in deep shock, for a Belgian has earned the IM title! Yes indeed, after convincing performances on Belgium’s first board in the 1970 and 1972 olimpiad, Boey has gained the master title. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also doing very well in the correspondence world championship. People in the Netherlands have noticed this, too, and decide to invite him for the IM group of the 14th IBM tournament. For Boey, this is a unique opportunity, because international tournaments don’t exist in Belgium. The first round pits him against the experiences Hungarian master Dely.

The protagonists:

White: IM Péter Dely, 40 years old, rating: 2470

Dely had already had a distinguished career by this point. Just a few years before he had won the highly prestigious Hungarian championship. A regular member of the national team, he has helped it win a silver and a bronze medal in the European team championship. Among his most notable individual results were victories in the classic Reggio Emilia tournament, as well as in the Rubinstein memorial in Polanica Zdrój. As a curiosity, he had also won the first ever tournament to count for the official FIDÉ rating in Luxembourg in 1971. According to chessmetrics.com, Dely reached a peak of the 71st palce in the world.

Black: IM Jozef Martin Boey, 40 years old, rating: 2435

Boey was about as old as Dely and had about the same rating, but he had played far fewer international tournaments. He had mainly built his reputation in the olimpiads – he had already played six – and two zonal tournaments. This lack of international appearances was due to the fact that Boey never became a professional player. This is also why he focused on correspondence chess. In this discipline, he had already finished second and shared second in two European correspondence championships and was still in the running to win the world championship.

Why did I choose this game?

It shows Boey in superior form, wielding his favourite Chigorin defence as a terrifying weapon. His experienced Hungarian opponent gets a bit too greedy in the opening and is immediately squashed like a third-class player.

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CIPC #38: Mafalda

Which countries do you associate with comics? Perhaps you will immediately think of the American tradition, with superhero comics and Peanuts-style newspaper comics. Maybe the Japanese manga springs to mind first. Or perhaps the Franco-Belgian bande dessinée is your favourite. In any case, Argentina was probably not your first choice. Still, one of the most popular comic series from the sixties and seventies was created by an Argentinian author under the nom de plume Quino: La Mafalda, about a typical six-year old girl from Argentina. I don’t know much about the series, but it seems like Quino liked chess quite a bit. In the following strip,1 we see Mafalda on the right playing chess on of her best friends, Felipe.

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CIPC #37: Chloë Howl, Rumour

Long, long time ago, when October was but a sparkle in the eye of winter, I wrote a blog post about the music video for some pop song. Since then, I have not revisited the genre. Why is this? Two reasons come to mind. First, my knowledge of pop music is restricted to the vague notion that, at some point, some people from Liverpool became somewhat famous for there endeavours in this line of work. Second, pop musicians are perhaps not terribly attracted to the chess. I can only assume that something went wrong in their upbringing – the same thing that led to them become pop stars, I guess. Still, I stumbled upon a second entry in the short list of chess-themed musical videos: Rumour, by the aptly named Chloë Howl.1

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CIPC #36: New Scientist No.3144

In der Beschränkung zeigt sich der Meister. In our days of niche studies and absurdly specific website, Goethe’s quote is more poignant than ever. Still, when I started a blog discussing unlikely depictions of chess in popular culture, I thought I had a market cornered. I thought I had a pretty safe monopoly, not because of the superior quality of my product, but simply because nobody else wants in on it. Yet here we are, less than a year later, and people are already treading on my turf.1 You see, New Scientist has dedicated its cover to a cartoon depicting Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un playing a game of chess, and Macauley Peterson has published an article about this on ChessBase. Am I still relevant? Should I surrender my position? Should I close my blog? Let’s investigate!

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