CIPC #66: “Weird Al” Yankovic, White & Nerdy

Parody is a tricky genre. When it fails, it tends to fall completely flat, but when it succeeds, ah, then you might just get a masterpiece. Like Mozart’s Musikalischer Spaß, Godfried Bomans’ De avonturen van Bill Clifford, or “Weird Al” Yankovic’s White & Nerdy. Yankovic has been parodying pop songs since the eighties, replacing the original lyrics with a bit of comedy. His most popular effort is probably White & Nerdy, a parody of the 2006 rap song Drivin’ by one hit wonder Chamillionaire. Both the original and the parody are heart-wrenching tales about racial profiling: the original about a black guy being constantly pulled over by the police, the parody about someone who wants to bowl with the gangstas but is rejected because he’s too white and nerdy. As proof of his nerd cred, the protagonist states that he was “in AV club, in glee club, and even a chess team” while showing pictures from an old book as evidence.

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BOBCH #5: Nielsen vs. O’Kelly de Galway (1954-56)

By now, there are several thousands of games on this site. How is one supposed to find games that are interesting? The answer is that one is not. One can, from now, look at the Best Of Belgian Chess History posts to find some of the more interesting ones. One can even make suggestions to the webmaster. One is very lucky, indeed.

The scene:

The mid-fifties. An enormous correspondence tournament is organised in honour of the great correspondence player Eduard Dyckhoff. And by enormous, I mean gigantic: more than a thousand people played. The main invitation group consisted of some very high-level players, including renowned correspondence players like Heemsoth, Napolitano, and Barda as well as top over-the-board players like Schmid and the Belgian champion O’Kelly de Galway. The over-the-board players dominated.

The protagonists:

White: Julius Nielsen, 52 years

In 1954, Bent Larsen had not burst on to the tournament scene yet and Denmark was not really a chess-playing nation. Nielsen had been among the top of this small circle for quite a while, being selected twice for the national olimpiad team, but his main claim to fame is probably that he edited Skakbladet, the official magazine of the Danish chess union. Later on he would reach the final of the correspondence world championship.

Black: IM Albéric O’Kelly de Galway, 43 years

After World War II, O’Kelly’s star had shot up rapidly: he had won the Hoogovens tournament, the zonal tournament, the São Paulo international tournament and a numbers of smaller tournament. When this tournament started, he had established himself among the world’s top 50 players, ranking as high as the 27th place in 1954 according to chessmetrics. He had not been doing a lot of correspondence chess, probably due to an overfull schedule, so it was not clear how well he would do against experienced correspondence player.

Why did I choose this game?

Mainly on advice of O’Kelly himself. In his book 34 mal Schachlogik, he calls it probably the most complicated game he had played. It is a fascinating struggle in the Najdorf Sicilian. O’Kelly would later go on to write one of the first books about this opening, in which he also explained this game.


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CIPC #65: The cinema snob S11 E13, Mighty muffin pounder rangers

Judging the quality of entertainment is an age-old tradition – probably about half an hour younger than entertainment itself – but it, like so many things, has been profoundly changed by the internet. When people read Hanslick’s review of Lohengrin, they were trying to find out whether it was worth a watch. Nowadays, there are so many people reviewing so many things – and people are interested in them because they are (supposed to be) funny. One of the more popular ones is Brad Jones, who, under the moniker the cinema snob, talks about obscure horror movies, mockbusters, and porn parodies. In one of the latter ones, the title of which I see no reason to repeat, the cinema snob is interrupted by a pedantic know-it-all. Of course, being a pedantic know-it-all, he has a chess board at hand.

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CIPC #64: Back to the future part III

This is going to be a huge disappointment. Just imagine: for more than a year, my fans1 have been waiting, silently fearing my blog would die before I’d get there, getting more excited the last weeks as the date was creeping nearer, and now it’s finally there: the 64th episode! The number of squares on the board! Fischer’s age when he died! There must be some special instalment! Nope. Nada. Zilch. Not one of the big ones everyone was waiting for, nothing deliciously obscure. Just a big ol’ dud. We’re focusing on a board which appeared in a scene of the third movie in the ostentatiously eighties Back to the future series.

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CIPC #63: The X-files S5 E20, The end

As far as I can ascertain, the X-files is more or less an adaptation of the Fortean times in which every uncanny or weirdly creepy story from the magazine happens to the same people: Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. One rather big difference, though, is that each the X-files episode was seen by around twenty million people while the Fortean times has a circulation of less than twenty thousand.1 Another, admittedly smaller, difference is that I am not aware of chess appearing in the pages of the Fortean times but I very much am aware of chess in the X-files. The end, the 20th episode of the fifth season, starts with a game between Gibson Praise, a young American prodigy, and Anatoly Klebanow, a Russian grandmaster.

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CIPC #62: Championship conflict

The history of the world chess championship is filled with scandals. Delicious, delicious scandals. Some of the more famous ones are the yoghurt incident (Karpow vs. Korchnoi, Baguio 1978), the famous 1993 split (Kasparow vs. Short, London 1993), and the bathroom controversy (Kramnik vs. Topalov, Elista 2006). Less well-known is that there has been an actual incident of violence. Not between the players, but between one of them and the arbiter. This happened quite a while ago in a match between Garry Kimovich Katsparow and Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpaw. Here’s the footage:

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CIPC #61: The New Yorker Vol.52 No.28

Among literary magazines, the New Yorker takes pride of place, counting authors like Roald Dahl, Haruki Murakami, and Vladimir Nabokov under its contributors. On top of that, it’s the source of the expression “back to the drawing board”. This all sounds very promising. Maybe they, of all media, might be able to represent chess well? Maybe, but they also published Salinger’s work, so it might just as well be a disaster. Let’s have a look at the cover of the August 30, 1976 issue (cover art by by James Stevenson) to settle the question:

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CIPC #60: Kiekeboe Vol.89, De s van pion

Every now and then, some mainstream comic of tv-series features chess in one of its episodes; by now you might already be aware of that. Once in a blue moon it happens twice in the same series. On such a rare occasion, one would perhaps be inclined to expect that one of the people involved has a thing for chess and that, consequently, the chess is quite good. Alas! Once more, you’d be mislead into overestimating the general public’s knowledge of chess.

I already talked about volume 14 from the highly popular1 Kiekeboe series, today I’ll spotlight volume 89: De s van pion. This time, chess even made it into the title, which translated more or less to s like in pawn. In Dutch this looks sort of like a pun if you squint at it sideways, as adding the s to pion gives spion, which means spy.

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CIPC #59: Sargon series front covers

Long time ago, in this very galaxy, I wrote a post showcasing some chess-themes book covers. At that time, I expected I might be able to write a similar post with some more book covers, but I never expected to write one about chess software covers. After all, if you’re selling chess programs, your clients are probably going to be chess nerds – exactly the demographic which might be put off by unlikely cover art. Once more, I vastly overestimated the effort people put into these things: there are tons of computer engines with horrible front covers. There are so many, in fact, that I can fill a whole damn blog post with covers from the Sargon series alone.1

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CIPC #58: Existential comics No.215

I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: there’s some weird stuff on the internet. There’s a subreddit dedicated to unexpected factorials, there’s a website about Belgian chess history, there’s a website to take you to useless websites. Why wouldn’t there be a place for comics about philosophers? Of course there is! And there’s chess in it! Which is great, because I haven’t discussed any webcomics so far. In the first strip of the 215th instalment, we see Sartre playing against de Beauvoir.

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