Repost of a previous blog (Chess Zombie) from Sunday, June 10th, 2007: Layne Flack, Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte ... and me
Above: Layne, Kurt, Nick, and me
I was googling myself the other day when I came across a reference to myself in a discussion about the World Poker Tour (WPT). Even though I have never played poker, I wasn't overly surprised by this connection, because poker has become a lucrative way for chess players to monetize their aptitude for mindless games. (A half-decent poker player can make a lot more money than a chess master. Both British Columbia's former #1 chess player Gary Basanta and former Canadian #1 GM Alexandre Lesiege no longer play tournament chess because they can't justify giving up their poker time.).
The WPT discussion, on the Australian bulletin board Chess Chat, went as follows (unimportant material - i.e., stuff not about me - deleted):
WhiteElephant [George Zaprudsky of Melbourne, Australia]: I really wanted Jerry Buss to beat that arrogant pr*ck Layne Flack but it was not to be :(
ElevatorEscapee [Nigel Barrow of Bendigo, Australia]: What struck me was how much Mr Flack resembled the Aussie chess player who moved to Canada: Alex Davies.
Now, since George and Nigel are both very nice and personable people who have both met me a number of times, there must be some merit in their combined conclusion that I am an arrogant pr*ck.
I don't think I resemble Layne Flack in physical appearance or arrogant pr*ckiness, but I admit that I am rather biased in this matter.
An unbiased, objective opinion of which celebrities most closely match a given face is exactly the service performed by a number of websites. MyHeritage face recognition is one such tool that I have used previously. Depending on which of two photos of myself I used, the face recognition tool identified Kurt Russell and some sportsman as the closest matches to me. However, Nick Nolte also turned up as a close match to both of my photos. (Unfortunately, I doubt if MyHeritage has Layne Flack in their database, even if he does have over $3.4 million in official career winnings).
This is all very well, but do Russell and Nolte have any other relationship to me besides their faces? That is, do they have any relationship with chess? (Nolte in his mugshot - see above - and Russell as R.J. MacReady, below, do resemble zombies, but that doesn't mean they are chess zombies).
Nick Nolte doesn't seem to have much to do with chess, although I did find the following Mulholland Drive shot at the site Chess in the Cinema.
Nick Nolte as Max Hoover in Mulholland Drive.
Kurt Russell, on the other hand, played chess-playing R.J. MacReady in John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing. MacReady (below) is stationed in the Antarctic and relieves boredom by drinking and playing chess against a computer.
Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady.
As John Carpenter's The Thing: Goofs notes, the film shows two chess positions that could not possibly have been separated by only three moves as played by the computer. (In fact, the two positions can't even be from the same game).
Computer chess game
Computer chess game after only 3 more moves
Another chess-related goof is that after MacReady pours his whiskey into the computer and quips "Cheatin' bastard", the amount of ice in his drink increases.
See the script for the whole chess scene. You will also notice that the computer's three moves, B-N4, PxQ(N4), and R-N6 check (checks are usually devastating moves in the movies), aren't even legal moves.
No self-respecting chess zombie would permit such an atrocity, so I can't say that I have found a celebrity who resembles me more than the arrogant pr*ck (and poker zombie) Layne Flack.
Oh well. But maybe my research won't go to waste if I can get Kurt and Nick to recognize that, with their high degree of facial similarity, they can both profit by getting together and exchanging beauty tips.
Zombies, perhaps, but not chess zombies: Kurt Russell and Nick Nolte.