Chess Eggs


Monday morning. You find yourself sitting on a packed Lothian Region bus complete with yackering school kids and an over paid driver. Trying to ignore the stale stench of unwashed human you sit there in your itchy trousers and un-ironed shirt peering through grimy windows wishing you were 110 million miles away.

You seek relief within the pages of the Metro, a freebie newspaper that appears on various buses up and down the country. Just as well it’s free. In the words of Burns: ‘I widna gie ye a button for it.’

It’s cost me nothing, so I can’t complain. But I do. I insist. First of all you can skip the news items as they are out of date. The celebrity interview is pure mush flattering fawn where you get the impression that the child asking the questions is being watched, hawkeyed, by two withering school teachers, canes at the ready to punish any question that may sound relevant.

Readers Letters brings a wry smile until you spot that there are far too many people writing in praising some old forgotten sweet or a faded cartoon character. You suddenly realise your fellow travellers are just as miserable as you are and they are clinging on to to some pleasant memory from their childhood in an effort to forget and dismiss the drudgery of growing up. But most of the letters are from pathetic lonely Joe’s saying such things as…

Hi are you the cute babe with the pink hat and blonde hair I saw on the No. 22. I caught you looking at me. Can we meet?

She changed jobs, threw away the pink hat, dyed her hair and bought a car.

So on to the puzzle page. Here I admit I have an axe to grind. I used to enjoy the Metro crossword but it was withdrawn because readers complained it was ‘too hard’. It was not too hard. It was just right, somewhere between the Sun and the Scotsman.

So I wrote in saying bring it back. I was ignored.

So I wrote in again. I was ignored again.

So I wrote in saying: I’m lonely and have fallen in love with a ginger-haired girl wearing a green coat and a black berry, she was eating jub-jubes (remember them?) and she looks like Betty Rubble. Can you please bring back the crossword.

They printed my letter but left out the bit about the crossword.

Where was I? (The Puzzle Page in the Metro… Ed). Yes. The Metro‘s puzzles. Here, try this: You have to find the connection and remember it’s first thing in the morning. On this particular morning it was question No. 2 in the Think Tank, on the 17th March 2005.

Out of date description for someone with strabismus.

Woodworking joint that connects two pieces with flush faces.

Having defensive body language.

Feeling Lucky.

Desperate to go?

The Answer: Cross

Cross buttock, cross lap, cross armed, cross fingered and cross legged. Cross Buttock? How on earth do you get a crossed buttock? The problem-setter should have added ‘angry’ because I was cross. Cross at being presented with such illogical codswallop.

However, the biggest and most unforgivable sin that the Metro Puzzle Page committed was when it once referred to a Rook as a Castle. It’s a Rook. Castle is a Chess move. To castle. I wrote in about it but was ignored (again!).

Now of course the puzzle page has been taken over by SUDOKU. Bah!

Mistakes in Chess by non players are not uncommon. The world of Art is littered with such errors. More than 500f paintings depicting Chess scenes are either illegal or have the board set up the wrong way. (White square on the right). Chess in literature usually fairs no better. The strong players are always Russian, with such names as Krylenko, Spaslinski and Krupov. The villain plays The Sicilian Opening (The Sicilian Defence) and checkmates with an illegal move.

And then there are the books that have nothing to with Chess but borrow Chess terms for dramatic effect. Here is one:


It is about some guy who smuggles Bibles behind the Iron Curtain.

When the Chess moves do get mentioned there are invariably mistakes. The most famous illegal move often quoted in Chess periodicals is ‘King’s Pawn to Queen’s Bishop Three.’ Tony Hancock in the brilliant Radio Ham.

When a Chess player is watching a film or a TV play and a game of Chess is being played or there is a Chess position set up in the background then the film loses all interest as the player’s eye is drawn to what is happening on the board.

(One disturbing thing is that in a large number of cases where Chess is being played the scene calls for the Chess set to be thrown up in the air).

Are there many films with Chess scenes in them? Yes. Hundreds of them. In the 1960s there were 72 films produced where Chess figured, including:

2001: A Space Odyssey, Our Man in Havana, The Hustler, Lawrence of Arabia, Lolita, Mutiny on the Bounty, From Russia with Love, The Cincinnati Kid, The Hallelujah Trail, The Thomas Crown Affair, Rosemary’s Baby and What’s New Pussy Cat.

Here is picture from the last film mentioned, What’s New Pussy Cat. Here we see Woody Allen with the board round the wrong way:


As I said before, it should be a white square on the bottom right corner. However, Woody Allen is a Chess player so perhaps this was done on purpose.

Woody Allen is a Chess player? How do I know? Well, a Chess buff called Bill Wall has collected and listed all the famous people who are confessed Chess players. So far he has found 764 of them. I’ll just list some of the actors: Alan Alda, John and Lionel Barrymore, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Boone, Marlon Brando, Mel Brooks and Faye Dunaway.

Chess also pops up in adverts and business logos:


and here is one I snapped on Forrest Road, Edinburgh:


Chess is everywhere. Even the Broons from the Sunday Post got in on the act:


Yes, once again we find the board around the wrong way. Oh, Horace Broon – how could you?

© Geoff Chandler 2005


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