CIPC #314: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Maid of Orleans

One reason I rarely discuss music videos on this blog is that I don’t know of that many which feature chess. Another reason is that I get easily sidetracked into discussing the lyrics. Take Maid of Orleans, for example. The text starts like this:

Manoeuvre No.1: If Joan of Arc had a heart…

If she had a heart? Do you think she might have had a pomegranate instead? Or perhaps that she was some kind of terminator sent to the past as a scourge to the Englishmen? But I shouldn’t. Let’s talk about the chess that appears in the accompanying music video.

While one of the manoeuvres sings the questionable line mentioned above, the other one sits quietly at a chessboard. Yet he is not blameless either: he has set up the board the wrong way around.

Manoeuvre No.1: …would she give it as a gift…

She’s probably using it, you dolt! Do you think she just has a stack of spares laying around?

But no, let’s talk chess. And there’s something to talk about: our other manoeuvre opens with 1.f3!1

Manoeuvre No.1: such as me…

No! You hang out with people that open with 1.f3, nobody is giving you any gifts!2 But I really mustn’t. I should focus on chess. Manoeuvre No.2, who started the game alone, is now joined by Joan of Arc. She plays 1. … Nf6 which, while probably not the best, is at least reasonable. However, after 2. d3 she plays 2. … Nd5. Is this just contempt? Or is she an idiot, too?

Unfortunately, the director is definitely an idiot: he focuses on snowy landscapes with medieval castles and knight gallivanting around instead of our trusty 8×8 board. The best I can make of it is this:3

As you see, most of black’s position remains sadly out of view.

And what am I supposed to do with so little? Perhaps I should have stuck with the lyrics after all.

Realism: 3/5 There’s not much to go on, so there’s a wide margin of error on this score. No pieces seem to be obviously ridiculous, but most of them are a bit weird. And I have the sneaking suspicion that someone didn’t know how to castle.

Probable winner: At the end of the video, we see white give his opponent a cross.4 She seems delighted and leaves the chessboard, the house, and the video. This lets white win on time.

1. [That’s an exclamation mark of incredulity; I’m not claiming 1.f3 is brilliant or indeed approving of it at all.]
2. [Plus you’re English. Joan wasn’t particularly fond of them.]
3. [The best someone else can make is this. At least when it comes to diagram editors.]
4. [Presumably because she didn’t have one to bear.]