BCH

CIPC #201: De strateeg ad

Our subject for today is a podcast. Well, not quite. It’s some kind of ad that, at the time of writing, appears as the official logo for the Dutch podcast De strateeg [the strategist] on their website. The podcast claims to deal with “worldwide trends and their impact on man, company, geopolitical relationships, and government”.1 Whether it does so — and whether it does so adequately — I cannot say, because I haven’t listened to a single episode. I can, however, say a thing or two about the position shows in the logo.

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CIPC #200: S. S. Van Dine, Le fou des échecs

This is the third year now that I do this blog. I have touched on movies, television series, paintings, comics, literature, sculptures – pretty much any type of cultural output. Yet, I still stumble upon something new, occasionally. Literary serials, for example. In the nineteen twenties, S. S. Van Dine’s1 detective character Philo Vance was as widely popular as he is now forgotten. His books were translated and appeared serialised in newspapers. This is how I found out about him and them: while combing Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle2 for its chess column, I suddenly encountered a story entitled Le fou des échecs by Van Dine. It is probably a translation (by A.-H. Ponte) of The bishop murder case and most certainly the subject of today’s post.

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CIPC #199: Alice in Wonderland

If you were to ask some random schmuck from the streets to give an example of chess in popular culture, provided you do this at a point in time when there doesn’t just happen to be a massively popular chess-based series going on, chances are they’re going to answer Alice in Wonderland. But they’d be wrong! There is no mention of chess in Alice in Wonderland. The famous chess board appears in its sequel Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there. However, some of the movie adaptations that appear every couple of years have fused both books together and include a chess scene. So, too, our subject for today.

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CIPC #198: De regels van Floor S3 E16, Fanatiek

De regels van Floor is a still-running Dutch television series. The title means ‘Floor’s rules’ and the concept is that, every episode, Floor comes up with one rule to help her — and, by proxy, the viewer — cope with the intricate and often baffling trappings of life in modern society. In this particular episode, that rule is “don’t be too fanatic”;1 in fact ‘fanatiek’, the name of the episode, is Dutch for ‘fanatic’. It comes from the fact that Floor’s father gets a little too engrossed in her daughter’s football games. It turns out that the same father also plays chess. Near the end of the episode, he has a tournament that is so important that even his wife comes to watch. We too, of course:

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CIPC #197: The twilight saga: Breaking dawn – part 1

Few traces of it are left, but about a decade ago, Twilight was the biggest thing in the world. Millions and millions of copies of the books were sold in pretty much any language known to man and the movies were enormous box office successes. But at the same time, there was a huge backlash against it. The characters were deemed flat, old fashioned, creepy even. The story was condemned for being ridiculous. But, as has been pointed out to me recently, there is chess in it.

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CIPC #196: Defenders of the Earth E5, Bits ‘n’ chips

Defenders of the Earth is an animated television series, starring three superheroes from American comics: Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake the magician. Together, the defend the Earth, as per the title, against the plots and ploys of Ming the merciless. In this episode, they fight against one of the stupidest plots in the history of stupid plots. Ming makes someone invite our heroes’ supercomputer Dynac X to a chess match against their engine. Once the two are connected, a worm, an actual digital, crawling maggot, immediately speeds through the cable and takes over Dynac X.

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CIPC #195: Cores advertisement

Never before have I been so quick! Our subject for today — and today is November 3rd, 2020 — is an advertisement scanned from the November 1st edition of De Zondag, a Flemish periodical which appears every Sunday. The ad appears on the front page and says Investing in real estate too complicated? To illustrate the concept of complexity, which is deemed to complicated to let loose on the public without some sort of visual cue,1 a gigantic chessboard is shown with a man in business attire ineffectually — and stupidly — pushing against a knight’s head.

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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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