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For those interested in how chess shows up in literature, the latest Hugo & Nebula award winning novel: "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon includes chess as an important component. This work is a crossover genre and is something of a mystery novel set in an "alternate history" where Jews settled part of Alaska following WWII. It begins with the discovery of the murder of someone named Emmanuel Lasker.
The chess game between Tyrell and Sebastian in the movie Blade Runner uses the conclusion of a game played between Anderssen and Kieseritzky, in London in 1851. It is considered one of the most brilliant games ever played, and is universally known as "The Immortal Game". The Immortal Game, in algebraic notation, was as follows: Anderssen - Kieseritzky (London 1851): 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Bc4 Qh4+ 4 Kf1 b5 5 Bxb5 Nf6 6 Nf3 Qh6 7 d3 Nh5 8 Nh4 Qg5 9 Nf5 c6 10 Rg1 cxb5 11 g4 Nf6 12 h4 Qg6 13 h5 Qg5 14 Qf3 Ng8 15 Bxf4 Qf6 16 Nc3 Bc5 17 Nd5 Qxb2 18 Bd6 Qxa1+ 19 Ke2 Bxg1 20 e5 Na6 21 Nxg7+ Kd8 22 Qf6+ Nxf6 23 Be7 Checkmate.
The chess boards in the film are not arranged exactly as they would in be the Immortal Game, and Sebastian's board does not match Tyrell's. The concept of immortality has obvious associations in the ensuing confrontation between Tyrell and Batty. On one level, the chess games represents the struggle of the replicants against the humans: the humans consider the replicants pawns, to be removed one by one. The individual replicants (pawns) are attempting to become immortal (a queen). At another level, the game between Tyrell and Sebastian represents Batty stalking Tyrell. Tyrell makes a fatal mistake in the chess game, and another fatal mistake trying to reason with Batty. http://boylston-chess-club.blogspot.com/2005/01/chess-and-science-fiction.html
I'm currently reading this book, at your recommendation. What a riot!
I am a long-time fan of Fritz Leiber and a chess fan (not a real player). "Midnight by the Morphy Watch" is one of my all-time favorite stories.
By the way, have you read Leiber's "The 64-Square Madhouse?" This was published in the May 1962 issue of If magazine. This story is about a computer entered in a chess tournament. Speaking as a software engineer, Leiber obviously did his homework on how a computer would actually play chess and what its strengths and weaknesses would be, and how a grandmaster could win against it.
This story was published in the chess anthology Chess in Literature, edited by Marcello Truzzi. This book is no longer in print but is available online at ABE books.
I am working on a graphic of the Morphy Watch dial as described in Leiber's story, and I would like your input, if you would.
On the actual Morphy Watch dial, as shown:
The Black pieces are 12 through 5, and the Red pieces are 6 through 11.
The pieces are ordered with Queens at 1 and 11, Bishops at 2 and 10, Knights at 3 and 9, Rooks at 4 and 8, Pawns at 5 and 7, Kings at 6 and 12.
In Leiber's story, the Black (or silver) pieces are 12 through 5, and the White (or gold) pieces are 6 through 11.
The order of the pieces is given as "a King at six o'clock, a pawn at five, a Bishop at four, a Knight at three, a Rook at two, a Queen at one and another King at midnight, and then repeat , eleven to seven, around the dial.
To me, this defines a different order of the pieces, as shown in the prototype of my graphic:
showing a different symmetry that I like better. As you can see, I am adding other details put in by Leiber.
Do you agree with this interpretation? Or do you think Leiber meant the original order?
Borislav Ivanov is Back! (AGAIN!!)
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