I’ve never been able to get on with sitcoms. I suspect the reason is that, if you have characters in a normal environment and you want there to be a plot, they have to act stupid, mean, or both. Becker is about a doctor of the same name who run a chaotic practice in the Bronx and who has chosen a small side of stupid with a very generous helping of mean. But in this particular episode, he does one good thing: he plays chess with a patient of his.
A very patient patient, because doctor Becker spends the day running back and forth between his office and a nearby diner, making moves in passing — at best. The patient, a mister Schmalen, has white and starts with 1. d4. In the picture above, you can see Becker playing 1. … Nc6 before running off once more. Schmalen at first believes that move to have been an accident, but Becker insists on it.1
That’s all we see form the beginning of the game, unfortunately. Later on, when Becker comes back. Schmalen informs his that:
Schmalen: I couldn’t wait all day, so I made a few moves for you.
A rather unusual approach to the game, but one that has great potential. Great potential for abuse, too. However, Schmalen has been relatively kind to his opponent:2
He has even kept the material balance! And, in fact, after f6 black would be doing quite well as white’s rook on a4 is terribly misplaced and castling is risky with the bishop on a6 and the queen on c3. But Becker, after looking at the board for nought point four of a femtosecond, immediately takes the rook on a4. Obviously, he gets mated with Qg7. Schmalen reacts with not at all veiled disdain:
Schmalen: I’ve got a nephew. Thirty-eight. We have to pin his bus pass to his sleeve. He could beat you.
Yeah, sure, if he can also make his opponent’s moves!
Realism: 3/5 This is one of those many, many positions we’ve seen on this blog that make sense locally but not globally.
Probable winner: White.
1. [This is actually surprisingly realistic. Given Schmalen’ age, he was probably brought up with very classical chess principles. Becker would probably have grown up during the Tony Miles everything-goes era. But I suspect I might be putting more thought into this than the director.] ↩
2. [Becker? I hardly knew ‘er!] ↩