CIPC #315: MacGyver S1 E1, Pilot

One of the best ways to see the impact of a particular work on general culture is to look at the traces it left in language. And rare, very rare, are the works that had their titles made into a verb. But MacGyver managed just that. Whenever you construct a makeshift tuba out of some plastic tubes, a paper clip and some rubber bands, you are macgyvering. Because that’s precisely the sort of thing the titular hero of the show tends to do.

In the very first episode, an underground lab explodes and MacGyver has to go into rescue some survivors. There’s a laser gun defence system to overcome, sulphuric acid leaking into the ground water, the plant gets threatened with a flood,1 and there’s a missile about to strike. For MacGyver, that’s just a Tuesday.

But before the troubles start, two scientists are discussing a game of chess that they have been playing via telex, but are now finishing live.

Scientist 1: As I recall your last telex, it was queen to bishop’s 4.

Was it really, now? How fascinating! How about I quickly throw a reconstruction together, shall I?2

Okay, maybe there’s an extra pawn hiding behind some of the black pieces, but that queen is definitely on g4. And that’s king’s knight five. And a massively stupid move.

Scientist 2: Yes, correct. You countered with rook to king’s fifth. Pure suicide, but far be it from me to stop you.

Okay, Re5 is unbelievably moronic, but you put your queen en prise on g4. You’re living in the glassest of houses.3

After Re5, black is as winning as he possibly could be: with Qxe2 Rxe5 Nxc7 he wins a second knight. Perhaps he can even improve on that by playing Bc5+ instead. And black really does play the bishop — but he puts it on b4, thereby giving white a winning advantage again.

With play like that, it’s only right they get blown up.

Realism: 1/5 Frankly, MacGyver’s antics are more plausible than this.

Probable winner: Evil. These people played so badly the whole building went kaboom. They have weaponised chess. 

1. [Possibly even a full Jars of Clay concert.]
2. [I made this diagram out of nothing but some ones and zeroes!]
3. [You shouldn’t even be throwing lego bricks.]