Defenders of the Earth is an animated television series, starring three superheroes from American comics: Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake the magician. Together, the defend the Earth, as per the title, against the plots and ploys of Ming the merciless. In this episode, they fight against one of the stupidest plots in the history of stupid plots. Ming makes someone invite our heroes’ supercomputer Dynac X to a chess match against their engine. Once the two are connected, a worm, an actual digital, crawling maggot, immediately speeds through the cable and takes over Dynac X.
But if I start pointing out all the silliness in this episode, I will be here for far longer than the damn episode lasts. So let’s just focus on the chess, which is restricted to the very beginning, which allows us to avoid most of the madness.
We see Mandrake’s friend and bodyguard, Lothar, trying to teach chess, proclaiming:
Lothar: Chess is more than just a game, my young friends, it teaches the fundamentals of generalship.
which is blatant bullshit, of course. Kings, knights, and bishops are not very important in modern warfare and, conversely, there are very little logistical problems or air strikes in chess.
But then again, looking at the board, one wonders whether they’re actually playing chess here. They claim to, but have a look at this:1
My apologies, I should not have suggested you look at this mess. The first and least important problem is that they’re playing with highly non-standard pieces. The second problem, which is still purely an aesthetical one, is that the pawn I put on g4 is actually on the corned of g4, h4, g3, and h3.2 The third problem, and here we’re getting into some trouble, is that there are five pieces on the board with the bishop’s distinctive mitre shape — and they’re all of the same colour. That’s highly questionable, but still within the realms of the technically possible.
Then we get to the serious problems. The fourth problems is that there is a pawn on the eighth row. This is absolutely impossible, but it’s still not the worst. The worst is that they’re playing on a 7×7 board.
Where’s you damned generalship now, huh? Or are you trying to make sure your future opponents will be bad at chess?
Obvious conclusion: if these are the defenders of the Earth, we’re massively screwed.
Realism: -/5 This is the very embodiment of not-even-wrong.
Probable winner: Why knows? Are they even playing chess? Or are they playing a mockery of it?