29 September 2016

Cracked Chess

I ended a recent off-the-wall CIS post (Chess In Schools), titled Baloney Makes You Smarter, with an off-the-wall link.

Google also points to Cracked.com's "5 Things You Didn't Know Could Make You Smarter: 1. Electricity to the Skull" [...] Lists definitely make you smarter.

It turns out that the Cracked.com site is full of lists and of off-the-wall observations about chess. Take this one, for example: 5 So-Called Signs Of Genius That Any Idiot Can Learn:-

3. Win a Chess Game in Just a Few Moves •. Chess is the game of geniuses. Hell, if Brain Olympics were a thing, chess would be the only event they have. It's all about strategy, anticipation, and thinking ahead, while mentally tracking the locations and abilities of 32 pieces. While the ultimate object is certainly to kill the opponent's King, the real effort goes toward systematically destroying his loyal subjects or carefully positioning yourself to stealth-murder him in the middle of their protective embrace. There's a lot of planning involved -- often, the game is over several rounds before the eventual checkmate. [...]

That's actually a good explanation of the objective of a chess game. Here's another example using chess history: The 7 Creepiest Old School Robots:-

1. The Turk •. "The Turk," an 18th century chess-playing robot that faced, and usually defeated, live opponents, is probably the most famous automaton ever. [...] But after touring the world for over 80 years, it was ultimately revealed to be at least partially a hoax -- albeit one so impressive that it managed to fool such shrewd historical figures as Napoleon, Catherine the Great and Benjamin Franklin.

I don't know whether the three historical figures mentioned at the end really witnessed the Turk, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did. After these almost-reasonable examples, the chess references start to break down. Consider this one: The 5 Creepiest Parenting Tactics Ever Attempted.

3. Man Decides to Raise His Children as Chess Prodigies Before They Are Even Born •. Laszlo Polgar, an educational psychologist from Hungary, fully believed in the idea that genius is something people learn rather than a trait they are born with, a radical viewpoint hotly contested by the docudrama 'Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2'. Laszlo decided he would test his theory on his own children by seeing if he could hone them into brilliant chess players simply by exposing them to the game at a young age and having them train constantly throughout their adolescence. Makes sense. The problem was, he didn't actually have any children. Laszlo had devised an experiment wholly dependent on a group of test subjects that didn't exist.

That one was half fact, half fantasy. (And there's nothing creepy about the Polgar family.) The next one is complete fantasy.

From 15 Wildly Misleading Movie Posters from Around the World.

'12. The Godfather -- Spain •. This Spanish poster for The Godfather was based on an early draft of the script, in which a young Michael Corleone must choose between a life of managing his family's world-renowned spaghetti restaurant and his dreams of becoming a world champion chess player.'

The piece gives credit for the poster image to 'Movie Poster DB' -- indicating it is real -- but the meaning of the chess pieces is a mystery. This next example is also fantasy and also has a movie theme: Upcoming Celebrity Sports Movies.

TITLE: Check, Mate •. STARRING: Paul Hogan •. SYNOPSIS: The city of Sydney is picked to host the annual World Series of Chess tournament, and a hermit-like crocodile wrestler, Herman Herzwazzer (Hogan), scores a ticket to the competition after winning a crocodile throwing contest. [...]

Fact or fantasy: 6 Completely Ridiculous Ways Famous Movies Paid The Bills: '5. Stanley Kubrick Paid For His First Movie By Hustling Chess Games' [...]

It's nearly impossible for a non-chess publication not to poke fun at our favorite game. Consider Find Your Perfect Board Game:-

'I am a wealthy 1920s industrialist ... Your perfect board game is: MONOPOLY' •. 'I am aroused by letters printed on wood tiles ... Your perfect board game is: SCRABBLE' •. [...] •. 'I enjoy being bored ... Your perfect board game is: CHESS'

'You know, chess would be great if people didn't take it so seriously. Taking 15 minutes between moves is just ridiculous. I play games so I'm not bored, not so I can be bored while you sit there and try to figure out if you're going to castle. Just move your pawn out there and be done with it. Get over yourselves, chess people. Computers are better than you anyway. Just have fun already.'

Yes, indeed, computers are better than us. 'Just have fun already'! Somebody at Cracked really likes chess.

No comments: