BCH

CIPC #158: Mysterium

More than one hundred posts ago, I talked about dixit, a popular card game featuring a bunch of highly surrealistic but beautifully drawn cards, on one of which a chess scene was depicted. Today’s subject, Mysterium, is a cross between that game and Cluedo. The story is that, thirty years after a murder, six mediums have come together to try and solve it. To do so, they organise a seance and contact the ghost of the victim. One of the players takes the role of ghost and tries to point the mediums to the correct answer by giving them visions. These visions come in the form of beautifully drawn cards like the one below.1

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CIPC #157: Tales of tomorrow S1 E2, Blunder

Tales of tomorrow is a sci-fi anthology show that aired in the beginning of the fifties in the USA. It doesn’t seem to be very well-remembered now, but it starred some big names, like Lon Cheney Jr and Boris Karloff, as well as the then still young Paul Newman and Leslie Nielsen. In no more than two seasons, a total of eighty-five episodes of about half an hour each were shown. Our subject for today is the second one. Its plot is very much a product of its time: somewhere in the Arctic,1 a scientist called Everson is working on Bismuth fission.2 The hope is that it will give humanity access to readily available, cheap energy, but there is a small chance that it will blow up the entire Earth. Presumably, this would make any expected value computation yield something hugely negative, but this does not deter our man.

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CIPC #156: Pretty woman

Pretty woman, a 1990 film starring Richard Gere as Edward Lewis and Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, must be the epitome of the romantic comedy. Roberts got an Oscar nomination for her role and there were a bunch of nominations for Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and the like — but that is not the point of the movie. The point is that it is a wish fulfilment fantasy aimed at particularly stereotypical women. The story, if you can call it that, is rudimentary at best: billionaire needs arm candy, picks up random hooker, they fall in love, the end. But the rest is taken good care of: Edward1 is rich, handsome, strong, gentle, takes his girl shopping, to the opera, and is completely in love with her — plus he plays the piano! Vivian, on the other hand, has no discernible qualities, except being pretty and a woman.

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CIPC #155: Hanes advertisement

If you thought we already plumbed the depths of human society last week, here’s a treat for you! Not only do we once again visit the crusty world of advertisement, but this time it’s for sheer tights (or pantyhose, if you prefer the other side of the Atlantic) — also known as the one thing that has less to do with chess than Kias or basketball. From what I understand, the ad below appeared in the March issue of Good Housekeeping in 1989. It is advertisement for the American underwear brand Hanes and features what is presumably a couple (or a couple-to-be, at least) playing chess in a park.1

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CIPC #154: 2016 Kia Optima commercial

After one whole blog post about high culture, we descend once more into the dank morass of the worst type of popular culture: commercials. Our object of study today is a 2016 commercial for the Kia Optima starring American basketball star Blake Griffin. Griffin and Kia had partnered up before and have again partnered up since, to some considerable success, if success is measured by YouTube compilation videos. The main point of this particular commercial seems to be that Griffin is ‘in the zone’ and it is suggested that one can get there by the simple virtue of driving a next generation Kia Optima.1

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CIPC #153: Kilburne, A game of chess

Let’s get this new year started for real! Now with some shitty pop music, like last year, not with an obscure publicity photo, like 2018, and certainly not with something as low-brow as a Smurfs comic, like this whole blog started all the way back in the beginning of 2017. No; this year, we’ll start with some proper culture! With some English genre painter you’ve probably never heard of, but who has an impressive collection of honorifics gathered behind his name, like cars in a pile-up. A man with the quintessentially Victorian name of George Goodwin Kilburne. Isn’t that beautiful? The painting isn’t half bad either. But how about the chess?

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CIPC extra: The best and worst of 2019

And thus, a third year of weekly blog posts has finally drawn to an end. It is therefore time for my yearly look back, collecting highs and (mainly) lows of fifty-two looks into popular culture. I will give your four of each, for the simple reason that, otherwise, I would have to give a different number. Or shut down the blog, I guess. Or just skip this overview. Okay, let’s just get on with it.

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CIPC #152: Hein Heijnen, Rokade

Rokade is a book written (in Dutch; the title means Castling) by an MD by the name of Hein Heijnen. It appeared in the prehistoric1 year of 2013 by the publisher Aspekt. It is about a pharmacist, Ewoud van E, who is going slightly mental. Half of the book is dedicated to the dialogues he has with his psychiatrist and the other half to a secret diary he keeps of the things that drive him crazy. So far, it doesn’t sound like something that should appear on my blog, but it it described both on the publisher’s website and the blurb on the back of the book, as a chess novel. Naturally, I was intrigued and started reading.

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BOBCH #6: Schuermans’ double deflection (1991)

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:

At the end of the eighties, Belgium had a brief chess boom, with the OHRA and SWIFT tournaments in Brussels as well as a decent amount of open tournament, with the one in Ostend being perhaps the most important. By the early nineties, the enthusiasm was dying down but had not gone just yet. In the shadow of the greats, the Flemish players were playing their regular tournament. For them, the VSF interleague had some importance, because it was a qualification tournament for the Belgian championship.

The protagonists:

Robert Schuermans, 41 yeard old, rating: 2280

Schuermans had already been a mainstay of chess in Antwerp for two decades. He had built a reputation as an incredibly dangerous opponent with a firm theoretical knowledge and a penchant for sharp, tactical positions in which he sometimes overwhelmed his opponents in real 19th century style. Amongst his victories are numerous editions of the Antwerp league championship, training matches against Proost and Van Herck, a shared first place in the Ghent open of 1980, and — as a highlight — the title of Belgian champion in 1987.

Marc Lacrosse & Valère De Buck

Lacrosse is a real amateur who plays an enormous amount of games per year, visiting tournaments mainly in Spain and Italy. At the time of the 1991 VSF interleague, he had a FIDÉ rating of 2205. De Buck made a name for himself in the Ghent chess scene but, as far as I know, never played internationally. At the time of this tournament, he did not have a FIDÉ rating.

Why did I choose these games?

The first round of the VSF interleague pitted Schuermans against Lacrosse. It was a game in true romantic style: black sacrificed a piece in the Vienna gambit and, for fifteen moves, pieces were flying everywhere until the following position was reached:

black does not have enough compensation for the piece and there are several winning moves, but Schuermans found the most precise one: 16. e6! A very nice deflection! The point is that if the queen takes the pawn — and there’s no real alternative — the line 17. Bc4 Rxd1 18. BxQ comes with check, leaving white a rook up.

The day after his first round victory, Schuermans had black against De Buck in the second one. True to his style, he played the Fajarowicz gambit and after just ten moves the situation on the board was as follows:

There is a terrible threat on g2 and white’s queen is hanging. Naturally, he tries to get his queen in safety with tempo: 11. Qa4+. Here, Schuermans plays b5! Again the best move on the board, again a deflection of a queen by a pawn sacrificing itself, and again a check is involved! The point is that, if the queen takes on b5, 12. … c6 attacks the queen again — but this time by a protected pawn, thus keeping the queen busy and preventing white from dealing with the threat on g2. Of course, one should calculate what happens after 13. Qb7, but it just works for black.

Deflection is quite rare in practical games and yet here two very similar deflections played by the same player on two consecutive days! That’s more than remarkable, that’s incredible.

 

 

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CIPC #151: The spirit of Christmas

‘t is the season to be jolly! To put a tree with more decoration than Idi Amin in a prominent place in the house. To get together with the family for a hearty meal with too many courses. To watch super schmaltzy Christmas movies about misanthropes growing a heart and finding love after all. Preferably with ghosts. The 2015 made-for-TV movie The spirit of Christmas fits that bill quite nicely: it is about a woman who prioritises her work as a lawyer over relationships, until she has to assess an old house which is haunted. By an old-fashioned, handsome, gentleman ghost.

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