Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chess does not make good TV

We watched The West Wing tonight on DVD. Towards the end of season 3. It's a great show, but tonight's episode really annoyed me for two reasons.

First, the entire episode was structured around this conceit that the President is a gun chess player and that's what makes him so awesome at being President. He had two simultaneous games going with staffers while also dealing with a military crisis in the South China Sea. Yeah right. He kept saying hackneyed things like, "Look at the whole board, Sam", and "You've got checkmate in twelve moves!" Being good at chess doesn't make you good at anything except chess. Ask Deep Blue.

Second, in one of the games, his opponent (Toby) started with a pawn move and the President said, "Ah, the Evans gambit!". No, it's a pawn move. Now, I have been known to say things like that at the start of games to try to distract my opponent. But lo and behold, a few moves later, Toby actually did play the Evans gambit. It was really obvious that the scriptwriters just looked up the board position and didn't realize which move was the gambit - they thought it started right from the first move.

Sorry to yap on about chess, it just really annoyed me that such a good program could be so lame for once...


Anonymous said...

What if he was just predicting the gambit... because he was that awesome at chess.

PTR said...

Right, I didn't think of that. It's a big call but it would certainly fit in with the rest of the show. In fact, I'm surprised he didn't tap his queen's knight's pawn with his finger before his first move and announce that he would deliver checkmate with that pawn on d6 on move 38.

That's what I usually do. It hasn't paid off yet but one day my ship will come in.

Anonymous said...

That would be an impressive move. I would have avoided the outcome by losing the game earlier, unless you were exceptionally good at stalling.

Well at least he didn't pick up the bishop and suck on it seductively. Or have an intern do it.