All too rare are examples of the happy few, the names that everybody knows, the a-list celebrities, that show up at the chessboard. Consequently, the few cases there are — usually monetarily inspired — are fallen upon by drooling hordes of scandal-hungry chess lovers, i.e. me. Today we consider one such case: Keira Knightley. Being the child of two Thespians, she started very early as a child actor. She became a worldwide star with her roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Love actually.
For well-nigh two decades, she built up a reputation for an utterly winning and charming personality combined with a disarming beauty. Then things became interesting: she starred in a commercial. It was for some perfume called Coco Mademoiselle developed by Chanel. So far, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I think that when you are a youngish female celebrity you have to advertise a perfume by law. But there’s chess involved!
Here’s the story of the ad: Mrs. Knightley walks up to her room in a very fancy hotel,1 hangs a do-not-disturb sign on the door and goes to bed with a chess board. So far, this is perfectly normal behaviour. She sets up the pieces. She even has a8 as a white square! Yay! Right when she is about to put the final piece in its place — a black king, by the way — someone knocks. What is this!? Can you not read? There’s a very obvious do-not-disturb sign on the door! Leave the woman alone, for Pete’s sake! She’s probably trying to study.
Then a narrator chimes in:
Someone: L’eau privée. For the night. Coco mademoiselle. Chanel.2
Wait, what?! There’s a separate sort of perfume you’re supposed to use while sleeping? Why? And why would it be different from the day one? How did I not know this? Is it… Is it possible that –
Am I, blogger about the representation of chess in popular culture, so out of touch?3
Realism: 5/5 Admittedly, no moves are played and only the starting position is shown, but i can’t fault that.
Probable winner: Who knows? They haven’t even finished setting up the board!