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CIPC #50: Rocky III publicity shot

From all the sports in the world, boxing is the most mystifying to me. I just cannot picture any decent person answering the question ‘what do you do for fun?’ with ‘I punch people in the face.’1 On top of that, boxing is the complete antithesis of chess, which makes its appeal even more mystifying. Still, for some reason people like to watch boxing and to give it a bit more class, they like to combine it with our royal game. Chess-boxing was a thing for a few years and for the third movie in the Rocky series, the following publicity shot was apparently released,2 possibly inspired by the Karpov-Korchnoi matches. It was pointed out to me ages ago, but for some reason I forgot about it. Sorry!

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CIPC extra: The best and worst of 2017

A bit less than one year ago, January 11 2017 to be precise, the first post appeared on this blog. Since then, there have been 49 instalments,1 one every Tuesday, except for twice when a lagging internet connection delayed the publishing until Wednesday. When you stick to a regime this strict, there will obviously be some posts that are not very good. The others were worse. To absolve myself of my sins, and since it’s the time of year for lists, I will list for your delectation my four best and worst efforts2 of 2017. Why four? Well, it’s the smallest composite number! Plus, it’s probably easier than five.

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CIPC #49: L’Islam – c’est aussi notre histoire

At the time of writing there is an ongoing exhibition in Brussels about the history of Islam in Europe. For the official poster, the organisers have opted for a nice picture of two kids, probably brothers, playing chess.1 This is probably because an early version of chess was brought to Europe after the Moorish invasion of the Iberian peninsula. Since the exhibition is in Brussels, it’s likely at least officially bilingual, but I have only been able to find a good image of the French poster, so that one will have to do. We’re anyway mostly interested in the chess aspect, so it’s not a big problem.

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CIPC #48: Geri’s game

After last week’s post, I was kind of struggling with writer’s block. I mean, how do you follow up on accidentally composing a chess problem? The only way out I saw, is doing something easy. Something many people know, which can readily be found online and for which a diagram, or possibly more, can easily be made. Something like Geri’s game, the Pixar classic which won the 1997 Oscar for best animated short film.

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CIPC #47: Bennett, Cat and window

It’s a strange but undeniable fact that most people do not read websites about Belgian chess history, nor are they interested in blog posts complaining about the representation of chess in popular culture. As a corollary to this theorema egregium, it follows that my website languishes in the barely visited backwaters of cyberspace. But I still have an ace up my sleeve,1 and I’m going to play it now: here is the Internet’s favourite thing!

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CIPC #46: Independence day

Last week we talked about Red Bull, this week we’re tackling its cinematic counterpart: Roland Emmerich’s 1996 movie Independence day – which revived the disaster movie genre as a viable option for summer blockbusters – is  hugely popular, full of action, and probably not very good for you. At least, that’s what I gather from the buzz around it, for I have never seen it. Apparently, it’s a rather standard action movie, without much depth but with some non-zero entertainment value. I suspect that the most entertainment can be derived from the chess scene, which pits David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) against his father (Judd Hirsch).1 Let’s have a look:

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CIPC #45: Red Bull advertisement

While we’re on the topic of advertisement for drinks featuring chess, let’s talk about Red Bull. It is a relatively new drink, launched in Austria in 1987, but has conquered the world of energy drinks in record time.1 The brand is now worth billions, and the company sponsors sports teams from everything between Formula 1 and soccer. The slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” is one of the most recognisable in the world and is based on the idea that partaking of this beverage will increase your vitality and speed.2 This is also the idea behind their chess-themes ad, which claims it will help you beat a robot. At least, that’s what it looks like at first glance.

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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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