BCH

CIPC #30: Friends S6 E20 The one with Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E.

Humour occurs when a surprise is recognised as harmless. This is why a predictable punchline kills a joke. This is why a joke you’ve heard before is no longer funny.1 More interestingly, this allows for the creation of meta jokes, like this one: an Irishman walks past a bar. This is a very good joke. First there is the absence of the expected punchline, but then there is the realisation that there really was a punchline. I swear I’m going somewhere with this gelotological talk. You see, today we talk about a joke.

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CIPC #29: Vladimir Aniskin’s Chessmen

Halt! Stop the presses! I have found what could be the most awesome thing ever! So there’s this Russian guy, you see, and he makes sculptures. That in and of itself would be scant justification for my rather bold claim, but he’s not just any old sculptor: he’s a micro-sculptor. He sculpts a convoy of camels that can parade right through the eye of needle. He makes a book which he displays on half a poppy seed. And he sculpts an entire chess table out of a walnut shell.1 From what I understand, the set has been in an exhibition of Aniskin’s work with the pieces in the position shown below. If you look at the picture it might not seem like much, until you realise that the dark brown blob on the left is the head of a match.

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BOBCH #3: Colle vs. Röthemeyer (1922)

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:

Every year, the German chess federation organises its chess congress. The main tournament is the German championship, of course, but there are – or at least were – a whole bunch of minor tournament. In 1922, one of these minor tournaments was a guest tournament for foreigners residing in Germany. One of the participants was a young Belgian, probably a member of the allied forces occupying German land. His name was Edgard Colle.

The protagonists:

White: Edgard Colle, 25 years old

Colle was the first Belgian chess player of international renown. According to chessmetrics.com, he reached the world’s 14th place in 1930, which is the highest place ever by a Belgian (if we discount Ukrainian-Soviet-Belgo-Turkish grandmaster Gurevich). He earned a great deal of fame and respect for his sharp attacking games, many of which have become rightfully famous, and for the Colle system, which is still very popular with amateurs all over the world. Of course, all this was still in the future in 1922. Then, Colle was just a local maestro. Sure, he had won the Belgian championship, but that’s not exactly the most prestigious of all titles.

Black: Röthemeyer, ? years old

The name Röthemeyer means nothing to me – or to google for that matter: searching for chess and Röthemeyer turns up a book about a certain Carl Röthemeyer who was a prisoner of war during the first world war. He send a postcard to his brother Herbert mentioning chess, but that’s hardly proof than any of them was our man. The one thing I do know is that Röthemeyer was living in Cologne when this game was played.

Why did I pick this game?

Because it should be an absolute classic. Black doesn’t drop a piece or anything like that, he just plays too passively – and Colle profits brilliantly. Strangely, neither Reinfeld’s nor Euwe’s collection of Colle’s games  include this little gem. (The same holds for Harvey’s book, but that only collects Colle’s games in the Colle opening.)

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CIPC #28: Friends S7 E20 The one with Rachel’s big kiss

I am not very knowledgeable about Friends.1 It’s a hugely popular television show which ran for approximately fifty bazillion seasons, that much I know, and I guess it’s about a group of friends, but I don’t even know how many elements that group has. The following picture proves that 2 is a lower bound, by showing the stronger statement that two elements in the group can be localised simultaneously in a single apartment. The two elements can even be chosen in such a way that they’re on both sides of a chess board – but it’s still an open question whether one can choose the position on that board to be sensible.

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CIPC #27: Dixit

It it little wonder that I discuss many television series on this blog, it is perfectly normal that I often scrutinise comic books, and that the occasional movie finds itself in my crosshairs will also surprise no-one. But every now and then there is something different, something strange and unexpected. There might be a chess position in a medieval engraving, for example, or on the cover of a book. Or in a card game. Dixit, Spiel des Jahres of 2010, is not only a great deal of fun to play, but also to look at. Consider for example the following (part of a) card:1

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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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