Saturday 10 October 2015

James Bond, ECF Grade 007: Licensed to Lose At Chess

Chess players are always so snooty and picky about chess as depicted in the media and on film, so it is only fair that we should show a bit of balance and give praise where praise is due. I really like this photo of Daniel Craig as James Bond (from the front cover of today's Daily Telegraph Review section) for the following reasons: 

(1) it's a proper Staunton pattern set (I've got a more or less identical one at home), rather than some ludicrous themed set, or excessively upmarket ivory job; 

(2) the pieces and board are covered in dust (ditto, comment in brackets above); 

(3) the board is the right way round. Even if you don't know the correct orientation of a chess board, the chances of getting it right are 50-50, but, mystifyingly, in real life, this seems to work out more like 10-90;

(4) the pieces are in a reasonably authentic configuration (hmm, maybe less so the white rook and king in the foreground, and you would expect the captured pieces nearest Bond to be white and not black, but I promised not to be picky); 

(5) here I am assuming that the queen on b7 is protected by a bishop on the long diagonal and that Black has been mated... (EDIT: B on f3 - see note below)... James Bond has lost - the only result which makes sense, given the time he dedicates to gambling, fornication and saving the world from baddies, and the extreme improbability of him learning to be a decent chess player in what little free time remains to him;

(6) he is wearing the universal expression of the checkmated player, encompassing humiliation, disbelief and resentment. One could almost imagine him saying: "'Ere, you jammy sod!" (The writer was told exactly that when on the point of checkmating someone at a tournament long ago.)

So, well done, Bond Organisation, you did a good job here.

P.S. Later Edit, thanks to Peter Doggers we now know that the position on the complete board was...

NN 1-0 James Bond
Position after Qxb7 mate

... except that the white king seems to be half-off the board around b0/c0, and there is a mysterious ring on d7. Maybe it was a play-off to decide which was the world's greatest cinematic series and he had just been checkmated by Gandalf. Can't wait to find out when the film is released...