Way, way back, in medieval times, framing devices were all the rage: there was Chaucer’s Canterbury tales, One thousand and one nights, the Heptaméron by Marguerite de Navarre.1 Nowadays, they seem to be mostly confined to a few obscure corners of culture. At least in literature. There are quite a few anthology movies with some framing device, like the Elvira movie, Tales from the crypt, or today’s Tales from the darkside: the movie.
Tales from the darkside was a TV series from the eighties. In 1990, after the show proper had ended, there came a movie featuring, among others, Christian Slater2 and Steve Buscemi. It consists of three short stories, set within the frame of a boy, caught by a witch, to stall his slaughter by reading to her from a book.
The third story features no very big names among the actors, but one giant name among board games: chess! An artist that has just been dropped by his agent is getting drunk in a bar. A friend of his is playing chess with the barkeep. The position on the board is this one:3
I can’t for the life of me make out the pawn on a6, but its shadow is unmistakeably there.
In this position, white, for reasons known only to himself — and even that only presumably –, plays e3. Shortly after, an enormous monster descends from the heavens and brutally murders the white player. But too late; black had already gotten to him.
Realism: 3/5 At first glance, this is not too bad. At second glance, there are quite a few things wrong, like black’s c pawn that somehow ended up on the b file, the absence of white’s f pawn, or the white knights hanging on b5 and c3. Even worse, his queen is in grave danger.
Probable winner: Black seems to be up quite a bit of material with more to come. And these are tales from his side, after all.
1. [I could have mentioned the Decamerone, of course, but that would be such a cliché. Which means that this is. Bollocks.] ↩
2. [His name always sounds like a conservative Victorian newspaper to me. Or perhaps like an evangelical roofer.] ↩
3. [Tales form the dark and light sides.] ↩