CIPC #184: Think like a dog

Is chess in terrible kids movies with talking pets a trend? First there was the horrendous Alvin and the chipmunks: The Squeakquel from 2009 and now there is the only marginally better Think like a dog from this very year. It is the story of a boy genius who wants to prevent his parents’ divorce by making them think more like a dog. Its most remarkable feature is that it manages to be both contrived beyond believe and, at the same time, as bland as McDonald’s fries.

At the beginning of the movie, our — well, hero is not really the word, but villain clearly wouldn’t do either. Our sentient entity Oliver, then, invents a device that allows him to read the thoughts of his dog. The premise of the film is that this dog thinks much simpler than humans and is therefore happier. However, the plot immediately contradicts this, since the dog does at least as much scheming as Oliver.

And it beats him at chess.1

In the screenshot above, the dog has just walked of triumphantly after delivering checkmate to his prodigal owner. Of course, both brilliant creatures are too stupid to correctly set up the board. If we remediate this error, we find that they have the following position at hand:2

Well, at least it really is checkmate — and for the right colour, too!

There are many things wrong with this position: the weird pawn structure on the queen’s side, the strangely centralised kings, the black rooks lazing about on their home squares. But nothing beats the cowardly bishops, ignominiously hiding in the sidelines of history. They are probably thinking like a dog. Sometimes, that gets bishops into trouble.

Realism: 3/5 That number is far too high, I know, but just consider the other positions I encountered recently!

Probable winner: The dog won. The dog won. Against a proclaimed genius. I better stop writing, or I’ll subtract more realism points.

1. [Good news: the chess board is in the trailer.]
2. [I’d recommend this if you have a diagram making problem at hand.]