austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You tell me that it's evolution

OK, now, here's one of those things that I would never have thought to look at, but now that I've seen it, I'm amazed by how cool it is. One of the little scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey that gets trivial attention is Frank Poole playing chess against HAL, and his getting whomped by the computer. An artile at points out, however, something about HAL's projection of Frank's inevitable defeat.

In the projection, HAL calls out the pattern Frank missed: Queen to Bishop Three; Bishop takes Queen; Knight takes Bishop; Mate. However. The game in the movie was taken from a real actual match, A Roesch versus Willi Schlage, played in Hamburg, 1910, and the historically correct move was Queen to Bishop Six. Trivial variation? Sure, except as the article points out, after that move, Bishop taking Queen is not forced. Frank loses if he has his Bishop take the Queen, but he doesn't have to do that.

In short, in showing Frank how the game was lost, HAL cheated. Or, he lied. Or, he made a mistake.

Or conceivably the filmmakers made a mistake; even Stanley Kubrick made mistakes somewhere in the 460 takes of every scene. But here's why I don't think this was a mistake.

Immediately after the chess scene, HAL reports the --- fraudulent --- breaking of the antenna.

Leading into HAL pulling a big, significant scam on the humans by showing a subtle one is just brilliant work. Particularly considering it's gone for decades with almost nobody noticing. I'm impressed at what a great moment that is.

Trivia: New York Patent medicine vendor H H Warner had, around 1880, established a prize of $200 for every new comet discovered by an American. Source: Planets and Perception, William Sheehan.

Currently Reading: V-2, Walter Dornberger.


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