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Chess and Casablanca

One of the features of chess is that it mirrors life.

How long have we hung onto a relationship, job or even credo when it is hopeless?  Same in chess.

In an internet game my opponent had a weak central pawn which I pressurised.

He committed more and more pieces to its defence.  I saw an elegant mate but failed to notice my queen was threatened by his/her knight which I duly lost. I was not only down on material but had lost my position.

I resolved to hang in there and was rewarded yesterday by a bishop fork along the diagonal capturing his rook. Unless I blunder, victory is mine as my king is centrally placed and he/she has little wiggle room.

Neil Rosen has been busying himself sending out lists of his favourite films by genre.

One was World War Two films and he omitted Casablanca.

He could be forgiven as the film’s success owes much to its diversity: it was indeed set and released during the war (1942) with all but 3 members of the cast foreign-born but watching it yesterday I was struck by its humour.

I especially enjoyed the dialogue between the chirpy debonair Captain Renault (Claude Rains) and Rick Blaine ( Humphrey Bogart):

Renault : Why did you come to Casablanca, Rick?

Rick: I came here for the waters

Renault : But there are no waters in Casablanca

Rick: I  was misinformed.

The opening shot of Bogey is at the chessboard. He was a keen player and it’s an actual game that he was playing by correspondence.

There is a connection with the Rust too.

Every April, but not this one, the Rust party goes to Nice and spends time in Cap Ferrat. There is a cafe there called La Paloma which playwright Murray Burnett visited in the late 1930s.

It was full of people trying to reach Casablanca.  His play They All Come To Rick’s, based on his perceptions, was bought by Jack Warner for $20,000 and the rest is history.

Neil says that neither Bogey nor Ingrid Bergman much liked making the film as right till the end neither knew whether she (Ilsa Lund) would leave with Rick or her husband Victor Laszlo.

It’s final message and scene when Rick and Renault leave Casablanca togther is neither romantic or humourous but meant to indicate America’s commitment to war and France too at the time  of the North African landings.

Its appeal has lasted long after that.

About Jakub Celakovsky

An irregular club player without pretensions to greatness, Jakub Celakovsky is a student of chess and has contributed articles to many publications on the subject over the years. He came to Britain with his parents in 1981 and runs a pub on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, where he lives with his wife and two children. More Posts