Chess and The Prisoner

Edward Winter



prisoner

This shot comes from the episode ‘Checkmate’ in the ITC series The Prisoner, first broadcast in 1967. Below, from the same scene, is Patrick McGoohan writing on the newspaper:

prisoner

The episode features a game of living chess in ‘The Village’:

prisoner

prisoner

There is a detailed summary of the episode on pages 156-160 of The Prisoner & Danger Man by Dave Rogers (London, 1989). Page 160 states that its working title was ‘The Queen’s Pawn’ and gives this summary of the final scene:

‘In the control room the mute Butler, his face a mask of complacency, places a yellow-coloured pawn back onto its rightful position on his superior’s chessboard.’

prisoner

prisoner

From page 142 of the book:

prisoner

In the newspaper screenshot given in C.N. 8137 there were two clues relating to typeface, as noted by Alan O’Brien (Mitcham, England): the heading ‘chess’ in the Albertus lettering used by The Prisoner throughout the series and, for the text of the column, the typeface of the Evening Standard (London).

The latter is a point that we mentioned to the chess columnist of the Standard, Leonard Barden, some years ago. The reference number (7744) at the foot of the diagram should allow the edition of the newspaper to be identified, but Mr Barden informs us that he no longer has a record of the position or the date of its appearance. Can any reader trace further information, including, of course, the players’ names?

dia

The win missed by White is 1 Qd8+ Kf7 2 e6+, followed by 3 Qe8+ or 3 Bc4.

(8143)



Etienne Cornil (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium) draws to our attention his article ‘Le Prisonnier’ on pages 9-11 of Le Journal du C.R.E.B., July-August 2005.

(8146)




prisoner

Gerd Entrup (Herne, Germany) found what we shall term ‘the Prisoner position’ on page 93 of the seventh edition of Kurt Richter’s Kombinationen (Hollfeld, 1995). The players’ names were rendered as Lie and Dresler, and the only other information was that the game came ‘aus einem nordischen Fernturnier, um 1932’ (from a Nordic correspondence tournament, circa 1932).

Checking back through the earlier editions of Richter’s book, we noted that in the first two (Berlin, 1936 and Berlin, 1940) the position was given, on page 85, with the same vague data but a different spelling of Black’s name: Desler.

richter

Peter Anderberg (Harmstorf, Germany) kindly undertook further investigation, and his findings are given below:

‘The position was published in Schachwart, December 1932, page 234 with the same wording as in Richter’s book (“aus einem nordischen Fernturnier”):

prisoner

The complete game was given, with notes by Lie and Desler, in the Danish magazine Skakbladet, July 1932, pages 102-103, under the heading “Fra Korrespondancematchen om Mesterklassens 2. Præmie ved Turneringen i Svendborg 1930”; it was followed by a second game, in which Desler played White, under an identical heading:

prisoner

prisoner

prisoner

The conclusion of the Lie v Desler game was published on page 123 of the following issue of Skakbladet (August 1932), where the missed win was pointed out by H.F. Rentoft of Aarhus:

prisoner

The two correspondence games were played to resolve the tie between Desler and Lie for second and third places in the 1930 Danish (over-the-board) championship in Svendborg, as reported in Skakbladet, June 1930, pages 82-83):’

prisoner

prisoner

Below is the full score of the correspondence game (Niels Lie v Arne Desler) whose finish appeared in The Prisoner:

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 Bb4+ 4 Bd2 Qe7 5 Qc2 Bxd2+ 6 Nbxd2 d6 7 e4 e5 8 c5 dxc5 9 dxe5 Nfd7 10 Qc3 O-O 11 Be2 Re8 12 Nc4 Nc6 13 Rd1 b6 14 Ne3 Ncxe5 15 Nd5 Nxf3+ 16 gxf3 Qd8 17 Bb5 Re6 18 Rg1 Rg6 19 Rxg6 hxg6 20 b4 Rb8 21 bxc5 Nxc5 22 Nxb6 Qg5 23 Nxc8 Rxc8 24 Bc4 Re8 25 Bd5 Qe7 26 Qa5 a6 27 Qa3 Nd7 28 Qxa6 g5 29 Qb5 Ne5 30 Ke2 Rd8 31 Qb3 Rd6 32 Rc1 c6 33 Bc4 Qd7 34 Ke1 Kh7 35 Be2

dia

35...Rh6 36 Qb8 Qd4 37 Rd1 Qc3+ 38 Kf1 Nxf3 39 Qc8 Re6 40 Qb7 Nxh2+ 41 Kg2 g4 42 Bd3 Qe5 43 Rh1 Rh6 44 Qxf7 Rf6 45 Qc4 Rxf2+ 46 Kxf2 Qf4+ 47 Ke1 Qe3+ 48 Kd1 Qf3+ 49 Kc2 Qg2+ 50 Kc3 Qxh1 51 Qe6 Qc1+ 52 Kb3 Qe3 53 Qd6 Kg8 54 e5 Nf3 55 Qd8+ Drawn.

(8150)




prisoner

The remaining loose end has been the date of publication of the position in the Evening Standard, and we can now report that it appeared on page 4 of the 9 January 1967 edition, with the solution given on page 8:

prisoner

prisoner

(8234)



Latest update: 26 August 2013.

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