CIPC #328: Das Kriminalmuseum E13, Tödliches Schach

I haven’t kept statistics about this,1 but I suspect that over ninety percent of the things I discuss on this blog have been anglophonic. That’s partly because it’s one of the few languages yours truly is familiar with, but mostly because it’s far easier to find English media and to find out what’s chess related and what’s pointless. But today we lower the percentage at least a little bit, by talking about Das Kriminalmuseum (the museum of crime), a German anthology series that ran back in the sixties and seventies.

The episode under consideration is called Tödliches Schach (deadly check) and starts in a chess club somewhere in Germany. The club championship is under way, and people are crowding around the game Bräuning — Matz that will decide the competition. The position on the board is this one, without a shred of doubt.2

White executes a simple, but elegant mating combination: 1. Bf7+ Kxf7 2. Qh5+ Kg8 3. Qe8# Struck, one of the kibitzers, is indignant and loudly proclaims that Matz has thrown the game and that, if he had played Nb3 on the previous move, the game would have been as good as won. In this analysis, he seems to overlook the total absence of knights.

Also, the position is stupid. It is the exact sort of position you’d expect someone to come up with if they want to show a neat mating attack, but with no regards for realism. The c8 bishop apparently remained where it was in perfect tranquillity as the whole queen’s side came tumbling down. White just has a single, solitary, sad pawn left.

We get brief glances of a few other game in the club, but I won’t talk about them; in a pot of gold, there’s no point in counting nickels.

Bräuning turns up dead next to his chessboard and we again get a beautiful view of the board with all (admittedly weird) pieces clearly identifiable in obvious positions. And the position is this one:

Miraculously, what the people are saying in the show actually makes sense: they notice that black has been mated despite a material deficit and that the mate is actually quite pretty. But it definitely didn’t come from any real game. There has been the indiscriminate but implausible slaughter of pawns that we see so often on this blog. And the black king’s sidestep is bizarre.

And our luck hasn’t ran out: Matz, too, turns up murdered next to a chess board! Yay! And again we get a beautiful view of the chessboard! Brilliant!

Again, this is a rather pretty, almost pure mate, but a rather implausible one. In particular, the position of white’s rook is baffling. It’s also hard to imagine how the black king got itself trapped in this mating net.

It’s very easy to imagine how the murderer gets trapped in the police’s net, though. He’s stupid enough to come up with the position above, so he’s definitely too stupid to not leave a billion clues behind.

Realism: 2/5 The last diagram would perhaps earn a bit more, the first one perhaps a bit less, but in total this has a very 2-ish feel to it.

Probable winner: White in all cases. It’s threefold mate — and you can’t claim a draw for that.

1. [Yes, I was tempted to go through all 327 previous episodes to get the statistics. But I thought better of it.]
2. [The diagram editor is this one, without a shred of doubt.]