CIPC #228: Chess-nuts

Betty Boop is one of the very many things in the world that I just can’t get my head around.1 She is a very old cartoon character created by Max Fleischer all the way back in the thirties of last century, and in the cartoons’ canon she’s supposed to be a sort of femme fatale; an irresistible sex symbol. In reality she is grotesquely ugly and has a horribly distorted cranium that’s wider than it is high. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of the other main characters from the cartoons could fit comfortably in her skull. But at least she had a chess-themed cartoon: Chess-nuts from 1932.

It starts with a real-life chess game to the tune of (an orchestration of) Chopin’s Marche funèbre, but soon an animated battle breaks out on the board2 with Betty herself at stake. But the animated part is not for me to discuss. There’s no chess there, so on my mental map it’s just a featureless flatland with Here be dragons! written on it.

Luckily, the director understood the need for showing the chessboard clearly and completely. I can therefore present to you with perfect confidence the following reconstruction:3

Unfortunately, the director paid less attention to continuity, because when we see the board closer up and the animation starts creeping in, it is mirrored along the vertical axis.

White clearly has a magnificent position. He controls the centre, his light pieces are all superior to their black counterparts, and the pressure on f7 is a serious problem.4 The best move is Nxd6, to remove one of the defenders of f7. White is impatient, though, and plays Bxf7 immediately. Well, Bxc7 really, as the board has been mirrored by then. There follow some exchanges on f7 — or c7, if you like — and then the pieces start an all-out melee, the position descends into chaos, and we quickly lose interest.

So we just write a blog post instead.

Realism: 4/5 O yes! That’s more like it! Thank you God, thank you Max Fleischer, thank you brain-eating aliens for leaving the people working on this cartoon alone. It is a little bit strange that white managed to trade his f-pawn for black’s d-pawn, but these things happen. Especially among amateurs in the thirties.

Probable winner: Hard to say. After white’s rushed sacrifice on f7, black was clearly better, but anything could still happen.

1. [Probably because hers is too big.]
2. [An surprisingly suggestive one, by the way. Especially considering this was the thirties.]
3. [This might be useful if you have some chess-nuts roasting on an open fire.]
4. [Unless you’re white, then it’s hilarious.]