2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey


With films like "The Shining", Dr.Strangelove", Clockwork Orange" and "Full Metal Jacket" director Stanley Kubrick showed why he was one of the best.Chess was one of his biggest interests during his life.In his youth he played in parks for money and he also joined some tournaments.During filming he often played games against people.Here are a rare interview with him from 1966 where he mentions a little bit about chess: http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/11/27/jeremy-bernstein-stanley-kubrick-interview/ 

In 1968 the movie "2001:A Space Odyssey" was released.A grand artistic science fiction movie with beautiful music and good special effects.We follow human evolution from apes and a mysterious monolith which seems to help the apes evolve.10 000 years later a group of scientists find a similar monolith on the moon.It transmits a signal to Jupiter and two years later they send the spaceship "Discovery One" to trace the signal.On the spaceship they have the advanced computer HAL 9000 which as time progresses begins to malfunction.

 HAL 9000 controls all the functions on the spaceship.HAL stands for "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer".Each letter is one step ahead of the alphabet compared to IBM but it was just a coincidence according to the author Arthur C. Clarke.During the trip astronaut Dr. Frank Poole and HAL 9000 plays a game on a computer screen.

 We can see the start position on the picture above.Frank have the white pieces and HAL 9000 the black pieces.Black already have a big advantage.As white´s queen is under attack from the rook he choose to take the pawn on a6 with his queen.HAL 9000 takes the pawn on g2 with his bishop.Frank then moves his rook to e1 since it is threatened by black´s queen and bishop.Then Hal 9000 says "I´m sorry Frank, I think you missed it".

 "Queen to bishop three,bishop takes queen,knight takes bishop,mate".Frank resigns without questioning anything and thanks the computer for the game.There are two things that are possible errors.First as they are using descriptive notation,the computer says "queen to bishop three".The correct way to say it would be "queen to bishop 6".The second thing is that the computer mentions a forced checkmate in two moves when Frank actually can delay the mate with four moves.

People have discussed this and some just think it is mistakes by the film makers while some believe it may be the beginning of the computer malfunction.

The position in the game is taken from a real game between Roesch and Willie Schlage in Hamburg 1910.It is from move 13 and forwards.Even in this game white resigns after black moves his queen to f3 in move 15.Roesch makes the biggest mistake when he takes blacks rook with his queen on move 12.

I have included the chess scene from the movie.Also the game in the movie and the real game which they took inspiration from.The games are analyzed by Deep Hiarcs 14.