CIPC #56: Batman Vol.1 No.23

I have a confession to make: I know squat about American comics. Especially about superhero comics. Of course, there’s a lot of chess in them, just because there’s such an enormous quantity of magazines and issues, but they just seem so silly to me. It’s not a very original objection, for sure, but it seems to be a valid one. Why are they all wearing these ridiculous spandex suits? What’s with the strange adoption of both Norse and Greek legends? Someone gets bitten by a radioactive spider and as a result he shoots webs from his wrists? What?! The one person who escapes most of my criticisms is Batman and today we’ll have a look at one of his earlier issues, which features a chess game on the cover.

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CIPC #55: Gargoyles S2 E9 City of stone

Gargoyles is an animated tv series from the nineties and I have a serious problem with it. The writing is quite interesting. It blends Shakespearean themes with medieval legends and modern day industrial corruption. The animation, too, is perfectly alright. Unsurprisingly, as it is produced by Disney. The voice acting is not just alright, it’s really good. Especially Keith David gives a great performance as Goliath. So what’s my complaint? There are no gargoyles in it! Judging from their poses and the fact that they are never shown spitting water, it seems obvious that they’re grotesques, not gargoyles. However, we’re willing to forgive that if the chess makes sense. Let’s have a look.

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CIPC #54: The black cat

They know. They all know. I’m convinced of it. All these directors, painters, marketeers – they all knew that, one day, a supreme weirdo would rise from the swamp.1 Someone who pauses movies whenever a chess board appears on screen. Someone who’ll read a comic book because two people play chess in one of the panels. Someone who stares at an ad and forgets which product it’s praising because he’s trying to figure out which piece is which. Me. In response, a whole arsenal of tricks was developed to avoid getting one’s work dissected on this blog: one can keep the board in the background, one can show it only form afar, or only part of it. Or one can hide behind low resolution.

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CIPC #53: Highland queen advertisement

“The good old days.” What rot! Rarely has such a huge amount of bullshit been concentrated in one sentence.  In the old days, people died of smallpox, people were famished, people dropped dead en masse before they were fifty. There were no computers, there was no internet, there were no billions of cat pictures available at a single keystroke. No, the olden days were lousy.1 One thing I must admit, though, is that they were classy. Just look how booze used to be advertised:

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CIPC #52: From Russia with love

You know what? No. I’m fed up with it. Week after week I look at the infantile doodlings of some guy who has never seen a Sicilian dragon in his life, like a trained pianist who has to listen to an eight-year old grope his way through Petzold’s1 minuet in G. This will not stand. I want a break. I want to look at a proper chess game for once. Luckily, there is one movie which is famous for featuring a real chess game. One movie which every chess blog ends up talking about. That movie is From Russia with love.

In the, admittedly quite small, circle of CIPC connoisseurs, it is common knowledge that the game between Kronsteen and McAdams is really a game between Spassky and Bronstein. Here is the position as shown in the movie:

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CIPC #51: Lucky Luke Vol.35, Jesse James

Who’s the greatest cowboy in popular culture? John Wayne, maybe? Clint Eastwood? Jonah Hex? If you ask me, the correct answer is Lucky Luke. Introduced by Morris in 1946, he has become one of the most popular and recognisable figures in Franco-Belgian comics. He’s semi-officially known as “the man who shoots faster than his own shadow”1 and he is indeed an amazing gunslinger, but there’s much more to him than that: he’s smart, strong, and resourceful. Plus, he’s got the coolest horse ever.

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CIPC #50: Rocky III publicity shot

From all the sports in the world, boxing is the most mystifying to me. I just cannot picture any decent person answering the question ‘what do you do for fun?’ with ‘I punch people in the face.’1 On top of that, boxing is the complete antithesis of chess, which makes its appeal even more mystifying. Still, for some reason people like to watch boxing and to give it a bit more class, they like to combine it with our royal game. Chess-boxing was a thing for a few years and for the third movie in the Rocky series, the following publicity shot was apparently released,2 possibly inspired by the Karpov-Korchnoi matches. It was pointed out to me ages ago, but for some reason I forgot about it. Sorry!

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CIPC extra: The best and worst of 2017

A bit less than one year ago, January 11 2017 to be precise, the first post appeared on this blog. Since then, there have been 49 instalments,1 one every Tuesday, except for twice when a lagging internet connection delayed the publishing until Wednesday. When you stick to a regime this strict, there will obviously be some posts that are not very good. The others were worse. To absolve myself of my sins, and since it’s the time of year for lists, I will list for your delectation my four best and worst efforts2 of 2017. Why four? Well, it’s the smallest composite number! Plus, it’s probably easier than five.

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CIPC #49: L’Islam – c’est aussi notre histoire

At the time of writing there is an ongoing exhibition in Brussels about the history of Islam in Europe. For the official poster, the organisers have opted for a nice picture of two kids, probably brothers, playing chess.1 This is probably because an early version of chess was brought to Europe after the Moorish invasion of the Iberian peninsula. Since the exhibition is in Brussels, it’s likely at least officially bilingual, but I have only been able to find a good image of the French poster, so that one will have to do. We’re anyway mostly interested in the chess aspect, so it’s not a big problem.

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CIPC #48: Geri’s game

After last week’s post, I was kind of struggling with writer’s block. I mean, how do you follow up on accidentally composing a chess problem? The only way out I saw, is doing something easy. Something many people know, which can readily be found online and for which a diagram, or possibly more, can easily be made. Something like Geri’s game, the Pixar classic which won the 1997 Oscar for best animated short film.

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