Kaldor City: a Magic Bullet Production


Tournament of Shadows

by Alan Stevens and Sarah Egginton



In preparation for writing the chess scenes that take place betweentthe psychostrategist Carnell and the robot V31 during  Kaldor City: Taren Capel, Sarah Egginton  and  I worked the entire game out in advance, including the notations that don't actually appear in the script. Sarah also annotated our plan to show how the moves on the board correspond to the strategies and symbolic alliances that appear in the story. I have further enhanced the descriptions, and also  included a key as to who, or what, each piece represents; although please note that the pawns are only used to convey the general offensive/defensive tactics.

Key to Major Players:

White Queen's Rook — Landerchild's Residence
White Queen's Knight — Cotton
White Queen's Bishop — Landerchild
White Queen — Fendahl/Justina
White King — Taren Capel
White King's Bishop — Paullus/Poul
White King's Knight — Blayes
White King's Rook — The Church of Taren Capel

Black Queen's  Rook — Uvanov's Residence
Black Queen's Knight — Iago
Black Queen's Bishop — Poul/Paullus
Black Queen — Justina/Fendahl
Black King — Uvanov
Black King's Bishop — Carnell
Black King's Knight — Rull
Black King's Rook — Company Central

V31 ia White and Carnell is Black. The chess notations in red are the ones directly referred to in the story. V31 makes his first move at the beginning of CD track 11. The events on the board precipitate those taking place in Kaldor City.

1    Kt-KB3 Kt-QB3

As Carnell says, this is not, ‘an opening move one would expect”, but he counters it with, “one equally mysterious.”

2    Kt-Q4 Kt-K4

These moves place the two Knights (Blayes and Iago) in the middle of the board, forming their alliance. Originally, Carnell wanted to take the White King’s Knight, but V31 told him that this was not the correct response.

3    Kt-KB3 P-Q4

Blayes retreats, which looks like a wasted chess move and therefore ought to puzzle Carnell. His own move appears strong, asserting control over the centre of the board and preparing the ground for an attack; but he is unaware that it will leave the square in front of his Queen free for Iago to occupy, threatening Carnell himself.

4    P-KR4 Kt-Q2

There is no way anyone with Carnell's intelligence would have played that last move, blocking off his own Bishop. The robot must insist on it.   

5    P-Q4 P-KR4

The robot moves the Queen's pawn ostensibly to counter the one made by Carnell, but the real purpose is to give Landerchild (the White Queen's Bishop) a wider sphere of influence.

6    R-Kt1 P-KKt3

That there is no need to specify which Rook is employed.

7    P-KKt4 PxP
8    RxP P-KB4

Again, Carnell wouldn't have chosen to make this move; as it prompts a totally rash attack which takes away the defence from the Knight's pawn. What is clearly happening in real life, is that the security forces are sustaining such a heavy incursion that they are starting to panic and overreach themselves.

9    RxP Kt-Kt3

The robot's action leaves Rull under attack from the Rook at close quarters. Carnell coolly chooses to ignore the threat (which is not really as serious as it looks), and eventually plans B-QKt5ch. As far as he is concerned, he is moving his Knight into a more sensible position to prepare for that, and also to enable his other Bishop to defend the highly vulnerable King's Bishop's pawn.

10     Kt-K5 P-K3

The Knight (Blayes) backs up the Rook; the Black pawn guards the other two pawns and gives the King's Bishop a clear path. Both halves of this move are totally logical.

11    R-Kt1 P-QB3

The Rook retreats to safety, still controlling the open file — and that aids the robot's next move. If Carnell were left to himself, he would certainly now play RxP, but the robot (who must be getting totally infuriating!) won't let him. May I suggest that, if this notation  is actually described in the script, the robot should say, "No, Firstmaster. That Rook is unable to move."? The choice of words would definitely intrigue Carnell.

We have now reached the beginning of CD track 20.

12    Kt-Kt6 B-Q3

Blayes’ move threatens both the Rook (Company Central) and the Bishop (Carnell). And it is here, Carnell realises he is the Bishop. That means that he gets out of the way. Carnell will not take the slightest risk to himself, even though it's clear that the Rook is the main target, and he will not get involved in the fighting — which is why he doesn't go to Kt2, where he would be defending the Rook. The knowledge that he himself is the Bishop, also makes him suddenly very wary of the move he'd originally planned (B-QKt5ch). If he goes to that square at this point, he's undefended, and being Carnell he won't do it. However, had he not realised that he was the Bishop, he would have made either one of those two moves, both of which are, in chess terms, a great deal better than the one he in fact makes.

13    KtxR Kt-KB3

Company Central falls, leaving poor Rull once more under attack from the Rook — but now he is totally undefended, unless the King condescends to move to protect him (which he won't). Rull is in a bad way and must escape, so he finally leaves his original square — but, no matter what state he's in, he's loyal to the last; it's an interesting little irony that, by the mere fact of escaping, he prevents R-Kt8ch.

14    Kt-Kt6 QKt-Q2

The robot's move astonishes Carnell; he would have expected it to press home its advantage by playing R-Kt7, causing all sorts of difficulties. Instead, the knight is starting to retreat. Carnell wants to play P-R4 (not B-QKt5ch as I originally thought — now he knows which piece he is, he will make absolutely sure he's got the back-up before risking his own neck!) but the robot insists, as an alternative, that he moves his own Knight — Iago.

Uvanov, enraged by Carnell’s seemingly bizarre behaviour, sweeps the pieces from the board. We return to the game with CD track 24.

15    Kt-KB4 B-B1

These two moves took place while V31 was restoring the game. Although B-B1 was taken on Carnell’s behalf, it follows his thought processes, as he would have realised he was sitting on an undefended square, and that Blayes was fast retreating. If she made her next move to R3 (as, in fact, she did) then it would give Landerchild the perfect opportunity to occupy the square she had just vacated and threaten Carnell. It is probable that Carnell didn’t know that the White Bishop is Landerchild, but he's not the type to allow himself to be threatened in order to satisfy his curiosity about the identity of a chess piece!

16    Kt-KR3   QKt-B1?*%&*!!!

The infamous illegal move. Since Carnell vacates the office shortly after this, I assume that the robot sits there calmly playing out the next few moves on its own.

17    R-KR1 KKt-Q2

The Rook moves to its original place on the board so that Blayes can return to Poul. Poor Rull is taken to a position of maximum safety; (he's guarded now by no less than four pieces, if you count the enigmatic Iago).

18    Kt-Kt1

Blayes falls back to her starting position on the board.

Now, here is the game again in short algebraic notation:

1    Nf3     Nc6
2    Nd4    Ne5
3    Nf3     d5
4    h4       Nd7
5    d4       h5
6    Rg1     g6
7    g4        hxg4
8    Rxg4    f5
9    Rxg6    Nb6
10   Ne5     e6
11   Rg1      c6
12   Ng6     Bd6
13   Nxh8   Nf6
14   Ng6     Nd7
15   Nf4      Bf6
16   Nh3     Nf8?*%&*!!!
17   Rh1      Nd7
18   Ng1     ...

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