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MatPlus.Net Forum Promenade Problem chess in media
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(1) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Thursday, Dec 17, 2020 17:24]

Problem chess in media

I knew that "A Game of Chess" (ancient "Mission Impossible" episode)
was, duh, about chess, but it also shows "The Jesuit"
by Eugene Cook, from Frere's Handbook.

Frankly, the only other occurance I offhand recall where
a chess problem is shown in a fictional setting, is some
Mickey Mouse&Goofy comic (Goofy inadvertedly misplaced
a piece, thus Micky entered a wrong key first, leading
to the good old trapdoor - I try to find that issue
since ages).

Can anyone lengthen the list? Studies (maybe Beckett "Endgame"
influenced by Duchamp) come to mind too.
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(2) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Thursday, Dec 17, 2020 17:58]

Akzenzeichen XY ungelöst, a German real crime show, had a chess problem once. It was at the beginning of a film case, they said a boy "played chess with himself" but showed him being a solver of chess problems (or replayer?) which he saw in a book. His name there likely is not the real name, at least I didn't find any chess player by that name, so it is not reproduced here. Speculation is that - since it was filmed in Munich - Helmut Pfleger might have assisted the show's authors.

Episode 237, shown on 14 June 1991, had the 1995 solved case where this problem was shown:

(= 8+5 )

Mate in 2
Arvid I. Kubbel
Deutsches Wochenschach

Supposedly a 14yo boy "played against himself", but that problem was shown. Can someone identify the book? It must be a German book before 1991, back is brown (?) on the left and right side and white in the middle with probably a photo of the author and a blurb about him at the bottom. The front is possibly a photo of two people looking at a chessboard, or something else that is brighter in T-form.

(information updated on 19 December 2020, friend speculated that Pfleger was involved in creating that scene)
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(3) Posted by Jan Hein Verduin [Thursday, Dec 17, 2020 20:52]

In 1997 (had to look that up) there was a stage play in the Netherlands called De Probleemcomponist, written by Maria Heiden, former girlfriend of Frank Visbeen. I have not seen it, but apparently it was about a woman who is married unhappily, partly because her husband is preoccupied with chess composition.
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(4) Posted by Rosie Fay [Friday, Dec 18, 2020 09:26]

The Flanders Panel, written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte in 1990, is a novel containing a retro problem. Unfortunately the argument needed to prove the author's desired conclusion is not sound.
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(5) Posted by Neal Turner [Friday, Dec 18, 2020 18:17]

In Finland we had in 2008 a film 'Thomas' featuring Lasse Pöysti in the lead role.
He played a lonely old man living in a basement apartment who divided his time between staring out of the window watching the passers-by and staring at the board solving chess problems.
The viewers were left to ponder which was the more worthwhile.
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(6) Posted by Peter Wong [Saturday, Dec 19, 2020 03:56]

Apparently Vladimir Nabokov, who was a problemist of course, wrote a novel called 'The Gift' in which the main character is also a problem composer.
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(7) Posted by Neal Turner [Sunday, Dec 20, 2020 14:24]

My sources have provided 3 more examples:

Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" Problem

[Raymond Chandler's character]
[Philip] Marlowe is about forty, tall, with gray eyes and a hard jaw,
has a college education, listens to classical music, and solves chess

The book is divided into three main sections, each named after an
element of chess theory, again as allegories to the themes within the
book; Nowotny Interference, in which two black pieces obstruct one
another; Turton Doubling, when one white piece withdraws to enable a
second white piece to move in front of it and jointly attack the black
king; and Unprovided Flight, where only one move is available to the
black king, and checkmate is imminent.[18] The final chapter is entitled
"Double Excelsior", ...
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(8) Posted by Joose Norri [Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020 12:21]

The Perez-Reverte problem is correct with the added stipulation "no promotions". (If I remember correctly.) Then we have a novel with fairy retroanalysis...
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(9) Posted by Andrew Buchanan [Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020 16:31]

I post about Perez-Reverte (book and movie) into No promotion is certainly a required assumption for the book problem but also the queen is effectively treated as royal
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(10) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020 17:43]

Reading the SE thread, then the mentioned "A Happy Solution"
also counts. Did anyone here read it? (As I have my usual
crime novel complaint that not-(proven not-guilty) is not
proven guilty ;-)
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(11) Posted by Andrew Buchanan [Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020 19:33]

I did read the story Hauke, but it's not very good, nor the chess either.

A chess game (not problem) does appear in the TV version of Agatha Christie's "The Big Four" (very subpar). A Soviet grandmaster (for no plot reason that I could determine - but I did fall asleep on the sofa in the middle) is murdered while playing White in the Ruy Lopez. He doesn't get any further than 3. Bb5, because there is a little metal rod embedded within the king's bishop, and b5 is connected to a mains electricity supply. So completion of this move is curtains for the GM, who was known by the killer to be fond of Ruy Lopez. Maybe it would be possible to make a problem where Black's objective is to force a reluctant White to play Bb5?

Lord Dunsany was a famous fantasy writer, and several of his stories feature chess. See for "The Small Green Idol". But see the author's correction at

Off topically, I seem to remember that Casino Royale, the first of the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, includes an spectacular double dummy bridge hand.
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(12) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Wednesday, Dec 23, 2020 10:49]

Well actually, there is an INSELSCHACH (my club zine)
all time classic "The Ruy Noses", which is a parody of chess
appearing in gangster films. (Actually it's "Die Naseneröffnung",
referring to the guys always staring in each others faces for
so long before starting the game, suggesting that it's for choosing
the opening bases on the direction of the opponents nose.
"The Ruy Noses" is my translation, as we have an English-speaking
audience of surely...well, 2-3.)
Also, B*g*5 is the Tromp. Been there, played that all the time,
even made a 2# with the solution 1.d4 Sf6 2.Bg5#. :-)
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(13) Posted by Andrew Buchanan [Wednesday, Dec 23, 2020 19:29]

I am completely dyslexic with chess notation - I just flip it in mind on any axis without being aware of it. Thanks for picking it up.

Anyone got a link to “Jorkin’s Problem” by Dunsany?
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(14) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Saturday, Dec 26, 2020 09:22]

Fairy chess mentioned and a well-known chess-mathematical problem for beginners presented in mainstream media.
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MatPlus.Net Forum Promenade Problem chess in media