Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The chess scene in Mahapurush

Some six-and-a-half minutes into Satyajit Ray's 1965 The Holy Man, we are presented with this board position:

6k1/p6p/2q1n1p1/8/3p2P1/5Q2/PR5P/7K b

The black pawn on a7 is obscured and the black knight on e6 is difficult to make out — but as Qxf3+ we see them:

Qxf3+

Still obscured is a white pawn on a2 but a shadow suggests it is there. White struggles with his reply while someone in the background rants. Finally, after almost a full minute, white plays Rg2. Then the clearly rattled white player says to the third party: "Your whining cost me a bishop!" That would have made sense if the white queen on f3 had been a bishop. The position is now a mate in two (Nf4). But after another minute it appears that Black had played Qd1+ (one screen frame makes it appear that the queen might actually be on c1 but that is of no consequence). Another minute before White blocks the check with Rg1. Then Qxg1+ and, ten seconds later, Black lets White know: "Mate in two moves, my friend." Of course it is not, anymore. Finally, four minutes after our first glimpse of the board, the white player pounds his fist into it and upsets the pieces. He shouts: "Chess is an intellectual game. You can't play it where there's pandemonium!"

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