BCH

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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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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