CIPC #336: Out of Africa

Today’ subject is an absolute classic. It won seven Oscars,1 including best picture, best director, and best actress in a leading role for Meryl Streep. It is about a Danish baroness with a plantation in Africa and her affair with a big game hunter. But the main thing of interest to us is that, when she has just arrived in Africa to marry her baron, she enters some kind of local club where some people can be seen at a chessboard.

They’re using some seriously thick chessboard, which probably doubles as the rather spacious box for the pieces, and possibly as a coffin when the need arises.

Meryl Streep is hogging the camera’s attention, and we only get one more or less clear shot of the position. It’s not clear enough, though, to make for a very reliable reconstruction.2

I’m less confident in this position than in medieval encyclopedias, but some salient characteristics are beyond questioning. The fact that black is missing his queen, for example; the lady can be seen clearly next to the board. Or the fact that many other black pieces seem to have shared her fate. Possibly, this is some sort of weird symbolism for the colonization of Africa. Possibly, it’s because no one involved really cared and they just threw some pieces on the board randomly. I think the latter explanation is a big favourite.

Although, perhaps, there is yet another possibility. As soon as the club members espy Streep, they get her thrown out. So maybe this is some kind of club for local perverts where they live out their depraved fantasies. There’s probably all sorts of horrid things going on on that billiards table.

Realism: 1/5 This is nonsense. It may be symbolic, but it’s nonsense.

Probable winner: White. He has half a billion pieces more.

1. [It was too early for Freire, but she may have gotten Wilde.]
2. [Despite a very reliable diagram editor.]