CIPC #69: The hound of the Baskervilles

Long, long time ago, when I started this blog, I already knew that, inevitably, I would end up talking about Sherlock Holmes. I don’t think there is any mention of him playing chess in the original stories,1 but he’s a detective. If the viewers have to believe that he’s a detective, you have to show that he’s smart – and if you want to show someone is smart, you show him playing chess. Today the day has finally come to face my unavoidable destiny and tackle the world’s most famous detective. We meet him in the 1959 version of The hound of the Baskervilles, being played by Peter Cushing and in turn playing the white pieces against no-one in particular.

Read more

CIPC #68: The hateful eight

Tarantino syndrome is a disease which has been affecting many young movies, often with a great pedigree, for decades now. A textbook case is offered by the hateful eight.1 At first, all is going well: the acting is great, the music is masterful,2 the cinematography is gorgeous – everything looks very promising. Then, all of a sudden, madness strikes. The whole thing derails spectacularly, gore and blood starts flying everywhere, and any semblance of immersion goes out of the window. Of course, in this case there are some complications, in that the fervent, chipper CIPCers were already out of the movie when the following appeared on screen:

Read more

CIPC #67: Barneby wand decoration

In every big city you can find a games bar nowadays; a place where you can get together to play boardgames with friends1 while having a drink and possibly some typical bar food. In these kind of places, you have a higher than usual chance of finding chess inspired decorations. Take for example Barneby, a games bar situated in the hip Neustadt district in the North of Dresden. On the northern wall, right opposite a shelf filled with board games, you can find a tapestry that puts the Bayeux one2 to shame: this one features chess.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.


  ( ) -   ( )
  ( )

Download games
ChessTempo PGN Viewer

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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:

Read more

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:

Read more

Recently added tournaments