CIPC #364: Horror express

What would you get if Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing played in The Thing?1 A glorious cinematic masterpiece, you would expect, which makes Horror express a little bit disappointing. And that’s a bit unfair, because it is by no means a bad movie. But it doesn’t get the horror of the isolated, freezingly cold environment across quite as well as The Thing. Possibly because there are a great many minor characters and extras walking about, possibly because a train isn’t quite as scary a setting as an Antarctic base, possibly because John Carpenter is a better director than Eugenio Martín.

But the chess scene in The Thing is awful, so perhaps this is where Horror express can score. We see Christopher Lee walking through the train’s corridor with the superior, perfectly-in-control mien of a Chritopher Lee when he suddenly spots a bishop on the floor.2 And so we meet Yevtuchenko, an engineer usually accompanied by a chessboard.

Sadly, it is a puny little thing and there is a distinct paucity3 of attention to it. I think the position is a bit like this:4

In fact, I’m quite confident about the positions, but to identify the pieces, I mostly had to rely on the size. And it may well be that one of the pieces I called, say, a bishop, may be a king or a queen or perhaps an alien in disguise. What’s more, I suspect the player is also an alien in disguise, because it’s the only possible explanation for this mess of a position.

Half an hour later, we meet Yevtuchenko again. He once more has his chess set before him but this time there’s a woman behind it who, inexplicably, has fallen asleep at the board. Clearly, she must be an alien in disguise, too.

This time, I’m fully confident in the positions and identities of the white pieces, but the black ones are as mysterious as ever.

I did actually come up with a reasonable explanation for why this Yevtuchenko guy is playing with his chess set all alone: perhaps he is a problem composer trying his hand at some fantastic task. But if so he seems to be quite bad at it, because I see no Earthly way either of these positions is going to lead to a problem. Lucky for him, there a monster about to make some.

Realism: 1/5 & 1/5 Both positions are untenable.

Probable winner: Yevtuchenko seems to be playing against himself, which greatly increases his chances of a victory.

1. [A rude awakening, perhaps.]
2. [Probably praying.]
3. […particularly in the Pyrenees.]
4. [Diagram express.]