I practice guitar, banjo and ukulele for hours every day. Sometimes I will put on the television while I practice. Especially if I am just playing the same piece over and over. Usually I will put Netflix on and watch on the TV via my chromecast. Recently I started watching Columbo again. I haven’t seen it in nearly forty years and I’m surprised how well it holds up.
To the uninitiated and the young Columbo is a detective series that is the opposite of a who done it. The murder is shown in the beginning along with the murderer. Detective comes in much later and the fun is watching him catch the bad guy. All of his cases are celebrities and people with money. He is rumpled and obviously not in their social class. He annoys the hell out of them. The murderers all think they are smarter than this bumbling detective. It’s a joy.
This morning I was watching Season 2 Episode 7 called The Most Dangerous Match. Now I love Coumbo and I love this episode but some things about the chess are hilarious.
At one point the world champion mentions a game between Alekhine and Casablanca played in 1914. Columbo seems amazed that the world champion can remember the game. Ha! Every serious chessplayer that I know can do that. We can quote hundreds of games. I can demonstrate The Evergreen Game played in Berlin in 1852 between Adolf Anderssen and Jean Dufresne or The Immortal Game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London. We remember chess games the way emo girls know Hawthorne Heights songs.
Two things made me laugh out loud during the episode. Both were during a simultaneous exhibition. The world champion has invited ten players to play against him in the exhibition. You’d have to assume them to be competent chessplayers but look at this chess set that the woman is using!
This the same $2 chess set that eight year-0ld kids use. I’ve played in dozens of exhibitions and I’d be embarrassed playing a grandmaster with this set. I can assume that anyone who would be worthy to play would have a real set.
Then the true howler comes in. Columbo is harassing the poor chess genius during the exhibition and the world champion loses in two moves!!!
Here is the game:
1. f4 e6
2.g4 Qh4 checkmate!
This is called Fool’s Mate. This is the Bigfoot of chess games. It is so bad and obvious that you never see it in the real world. That a world champion could play this (even under Columbo’s duress) is unbelievable. I am a pretty good chessplayer but nowhere near a grandmaster. I wouldn’t make that move if I was drunk, high on meth and had substantial brain damage.
I loved the episode. The chess was crap but it usually is on tv. The real chess game was between Columbo and Grandmaster Emmett Clayton.
One last thing. The criminals in the show are usually celebrities and/or people with a lot of money. I doubt if more than 2% of his cases would win a conviction in court.