CIPC #371: Sinbad and the eye of the tiger

In the summer of 1977, when the first Star Wars was released, it went up against a large sword-and-sorcery franchise that had been established for over a decade already: Sinbad. The story follows the captain as he travels to Hyperborea in search of an ancient and powerful shrine. It features no tigers, but there is a smilodon. And a lot of Ray Harryhausen stop motion effects. And a chess playing baboon.

Actually, the baboon is a metamorphosed prince and it is to undo this metamorphosis that Sinbad and his crew sail northwards.1 But their divers travails be damned — we’re here for the chess. And we have to wait a good twenty minutes for it. Then we see the scene pictured above. Normally, I would, after much grumbling and moaning about the unusual chess pieces and the lack of focus on the chessboard, come up with some diagram in which the pieces are in roughly the right places and have roughly the right identity. But there’s no need for that here, because some forty minutes after the first one there’s a second scene of the baboon playing chess.

It has black — or red, rather — against wise man Melanthius. And, although the pieces are still unusual, we get a close enough shot to determine the position exactly:2

You can see that a monkey is playing black: he managed to lose a knight, a rook, and the right to castle with a measly pawn for compensation. And both his bishops are hanging! Taking on c4 or g3 would be excellent moves, but Melanthius chooses another one which isn’t worse: Qa4.

But here, the princely baboon loses its patience and, with one fell swoop of its paw, throws the pieces off the board. The exact reaction you’d expect from a petulant child. Or a baboon3 — the difference is negligible.

Realism: 2/5 The position is not illegal and it doesn’t quite look like someone strew pieces over the board randomly, but that’s an exhaustive list of positives. How did the knight end up on f1? How did the two black bishops end up hanging?4 Why are no many pieces still undeveloped? Why are they looking for Hyperborea when there are so many mysteries to solve right here?

Probable winner: White, obviously. He’s up large amounts of material with more to follow.

1. [Turning a prince into a baboon sounds like an upgrade to me, but they seem to be of a different opinion.]
2. [In all his travels, Sinbad never saw anything quite as fantastic as this diagram editor.]
3. [Or a prince.]
4. [Religious persecution perhaps?]