CIPC #159: Simpsons comics presents Bart Simpson Vol.56, Sore loser

Apparently, there are Simpsons comics. I never knew this, but it is one of those little-known but entirely unremarkable facts about our world, like the fact that there are endemic species of frogs in Madagascar. Nor does the fact that the stories are run-off-the-mill and the drawings uninspired come as a surprise: this whole series is a simple cash grab, coasting on the popularity of the TV-series. This popularity happens to be so enormous, so indestructible, that the Bart Simpson comic lasted for a hundred issues and more than ten years.1 On the cover of the fifty-sixth issue, we see the eponymous hero playing chess against his sister and we immediately become interested.

We quickly lose most of that interest once we notice that only Lisa is playing chess, while Bart seems to be playing Calvinball, much to his sister’s annoyance. We lose all remaining vestiges of interest when it turns out that none of the stories in this volume has anything whatsoever to do with chess and that, indeed, the cover is the only place where our noble game makes an appearance.

And what’s this appearance like? Well, that’s hard to say. First of all, the kings and queens look very much alike. However, as black has only the slightly more plump piece left, the more slender one must be the queen. Secondly, Bart has knocked over most of the pieces. For four of them — one knight, two bishops and a rook — it is impossible to deduce were they were standings before being struck down; for the queen it is quite that she belongs on b4, leading to the following diagram:2

and, unsurprisingly, it seems like Lisa has the upper hand. Especially as she has four more pieces that Bart knocked over! In fact, it is not impossible that Bart had been checkmated.

The fact that white has such an overwhelming material majority means that it is hard to call the position unrealistic: white could very well just have been toying with her opponent. Even apart from that, the position is not so implausible. Perhaps one could question the fact that white’s e-pawn is only on the 3rd rank in a reasonably late stadium of the game, perhaps one could say that the white knight on h3 seems a bit out of place, but both are, if perhaps not commonplace, then at least not extremely rare.

Realism: 4/5 Meh. It’s alright.

Probable winner: Lisa. I mean, she’s Lisa. And her opponent is Bart.

1. [And that’s only one of many, many Simpsons comics series!]
2. [I present: a chess diagram editor.]