Saturday, March 6, 2010

Unusual Beyond Normal Bounds Of Politeness?

A Curious Story

Now, through a rather unlikely and complex series of events, it so happens that I found myself with a mix CD in my car which contains the rather catchy song "One Night in Bangkok" as sung by Murray Head and, apparently, Anders Glenmark - so there you go.

It also so happens that by nature I am a curious fellow, and when I find something I enjoy, I like to do a bit of research and find out more about the object of my affection. I already knew a bit about "One Night in Bangkok" - that it was composed by Benny and Bjorn from ABBA for example (although Tim Rice's involvement had been forgotten), and that it was on a vinyl LP that used to live in my family home featuring all the hits of 1984, including but not limited to:

- Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
- The Eurhythmics' "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
- Black Lace's "Agadoo"
- Icehouse's "Electric Dreams"

All fine songs which I can expound on later. This is about "One Night in Bangkok". One thing I also recalled was that it was a song taken from the musical Chess, by the aforementioned Benny, Bjorn and Tim. I vaguely remember commercials for the show on TV when I was a lad, but knew little about it. So I looked it up on trusty resource Wikipedia.

Here I found out many useful facts about the musical's genesis, development, success and critical reaction. But I also found out something that may well haunt me till the day I die, or till the day there is a revival of the show that I attend.

In the plot synopsis of the Broadway version of the show Chess, we are reliably informed by Wikipedia that this happens:

The world chess championship is being held in Bangkok. At a press conference, the brash American challenger, Freddie Trumper, relishes the crowd's affection, while the current Russian champion, Anatoly Sergievsky, and Molokov, his second, watch with curiosity and disdain. During the match, Freddie accuses Anatoly of receiving outside help via the flavor of yogurt he is eating, and Freddie storms out, leaving his second, Florence, in an argument with the Arbiter and the Russians.

Let me isolate the pertinent part of that, in case you missed it:

Freddie accuses Anatoly of receiving outside help via the flavor of yogurt he is eating

Let us be quite clear here. In Chess, a musical which looks at the Cold War through the medium of the tension and strategy of international chess, the opening scenes pivot on one character accusing another of cheating...with yoghurt.


He accuses him of cheating with yoghurt.

Now, I know the accusation is a trumped-up charge, but nevertheless you would think a false accuser would want something a bit more plausible, wouldn't you? A bit more plausible than "This is intolerable! He is using his yoghurt to defeat me!"


This will gnaw at me for the rest of my life, and yet I am not sure I even want to know.


Margaret said...

Okay, my first thought was "Has Ben double-checked his facts here?", knowing that some wags like to toy with Wikipedia's content. But no, I just googled "Chess" and "musical" and "yogurt" and it's absolutely true.

But... apparently the idea was that the choice of yogurt flavour was suspected to be a code of some sort, with an outside source thus providing advice on moves.

Which isn't much less weird....

Lord Andrew of Goulding said...


Are they kidding?

Now, if they'd said "potato crisps", I'd understand.