CIPC #352: Union Investment ad

This is going to be a rather boring post, I’m afraid. You see, when the people at Union Investment decided to make a chess themed commercial, they made the startlingly sensible decision to involve someone who actually plays chess well: grandmaster Elisabeth Pähtz. Consequently, we will more than likely get a position from an actual game, or perhaps from some analysis. Which means we won’t get to point and laugh at concentrated stupidity like we usually do.1 That’ll take some getting used to.

The plot of the ad is this: Mrs. Pähtz is sitting at her chessboard and talking to the camera. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I guess. Oh, there’s a narrator, too, who takes over from our grandmaster to mention that competence pays off. Perhaps it does. But experience has shown that it doesn’t tend to get you involved in the making of chess scenes in movies.

It was not so easy to reconstruct the position. In fact, I have the uncomfortable feeling that it’s different when shown from different angles. But the main position, and the only one we can verifiable see Mrs. Pähtz with, seems to be as follows:2

This is at the same time surprisingly realistic and surprisingly bizarre. On the one hand, the position looks pretty normal and all pieces are in logical places. On the other hand, white plays Nd4 here, so black just moved. And what could he possibly have done? Why did he not take on b2? The attack on rook and knight would be devastating. Did he just go Bf6? But then why was the bishop on g5 or h4?

Whatever the case, Pähtz has spotted the problem and plays Nd4 here, thereby parrying the threat. Black is probably still a bit better, as he can take the bishop pair with Nxc4, but it’s very hard to predict what will happen. And in such cases, the people from Union Investment argue, one should consult their experts. Perhaps I’d prefer a palantir.

Realism: 4/5 Everything seems to be in order. It’s only if you have a deeper look that some things seem odd. And perhaps, if you look even deeper, they’d start to look normal again.

Probable winner: Normally, I’d say black because he seems to have a definite advantage. But Elisabeth Pähtz is playing white, so white will probably win.

1. [There’ll also be fewer opportunities for witty footnotes.]
2. [The main diagram editor, and the only one I can verifiably be seen with, seems to be this one.]