We’ve had Tintin already on this blog, we’ve had Hercule Poirot, we’ve had Lucky Luke, we’ve had Devereaux. It’s time knock another famous fictional Belgian off the list: dr. Evil! He is the antagonist of the Austin Powers movies, a series of parodical films from the late nineties and the early nillies, starring Mike Myers in the title role, that of dr. Evil, and that of Fat Bastard as well. Today’s subject is the second instalment of the series. The plot is that Austin Powers’s famous mojo, which is irresistible to women, has been stolen. He has to go back in time to save it.
The above scene is near the beginning of the movie. Austin Powers and one of the subjects of his latest photo shoot are flirting with the zeal and fervour of a hungry dog finding its bowl unexpectedly full of treats. As the lady on left is of Russian origin, they end up at a chessboard, where they do unspeakable things to a perfectly respectable chess set, much to the horror of a polar bear looking on. And of a certain blogger.
Right before we get to the game, we hear the following dialogue:
Ivana: Do you know how we keep warm in Russia?
Austin: [laughs] I can guess, baby!
Ivana: We play chess.1
Austin: I guessed wrong.2
and I have some serious qualms about that. Surely it must be “I guessed wrongly“? Fortunately, we cut to the board. Reconstructing the position is easy enough. Here it is:3
Of course, they have started with the queens’ and kings’ positions swapped and with h1 a black square, an oversight with which I have even more serious qualms. Austin has just captured a pawn on e4 with his knight. In fact, the game so far almost has to have been 1. e4 Nf6 2. f3 Nxe4 and my qualms have reached such a frightening level of seriousness that they are starting to write sternly worded letters to The Times.
And it doesn’t get better. Austin and Ivana, too dull to flirt using maths puns like normal people, they start fondling the pieces in a particularly repulsive way. Even worse, white’s king and queen have swapped places again! By now my qualms are of such a perfect severity that they would not be out of place in the Supreme Court, pronouncing judgment on the worst crimes against Caïssa. And they pronounce Austin Powers: The spy who shagged me guilty on charges of unlawful piece placement, board rotation, and desecration of the pieces.
Realism: -/5 I can accept time travelling Volkswagens and evil doctors in hollowed-out volcanoes, but that king on d8 — that’s one step too far.
Probable winner: After Powers’ horrible Nxe4, white is clearly winning, but I’m not sure I trust Ivana’s technique. Let’s say no one.
1. [That could kind of work, in the sense that chess might take your mind of the cold.] ↩
2. [He, of course, guessed central heating.] ↩
2. [The hardest part is bringing yourself to put the pieces in such unnatural places. You can try it yourself here.] ↩