Wednesday, February 06, 2008

File Under "!?"

"Nobody remembers Alfred J. Kwak," emails blog reader and new Streatham and Brixton Chess Club member Morgan Daniels, "and this makes me very sad, for no other children's show that I've seen is so simultaneously sweet, dark and baffling. It was created by the famous Dutch singer/songwriter Herman van Veen, and followed the exploits of a brave young duck (Alfred), who lived in Waterland. In the second episode, his entire family get killed by a car (!), and he is adopted by a mole named Henk. What sets AJK apart is just how downright mature the stories were: Alfred's arch nemesis, for example, was a Hitleresque crow named Dolf, who went on to front something called the National Crows Party. There were numerous references to Apartheid, too, and Alfred had a black girlfriend, Winnie (a nod to Mrs. Mandela). My love for this show is boundless.

"Now, I recently remembered that in the phantasmagorical opening sequence Alfred played chess against Henk, and I was desperate to see if this came from an actual episode. Lo and behold, it does: episode 1.12, 'Alfred's Chess Adventure'! Unfortunately it is only available online with Japanese dubbing, but if you skip to 6:30 on this video, you will see Alfred & Henk go at it. A highly familiar opening follows..."

And indeed it does. So, here are these two strange and compelling videos for you to enjoy. The first is the "phantasmagorical opening sequence" of the show itself, and the second the remarkable episode "Alfred's Chess Adventure," sounding good in Japanese...




And if that's whetted your appetite for all things televisual, you can check out our index of chess videos here.

8 comments:

Jonathan B said...

Fans of chess themed cartoons may also wish to check out our Betty Boop clip.

ejh said...

And did you know that the character illustrations in Noggin the Nog were based on the Isle of Lewis chess pieces?

ejh said...

Ooh look

Jonathan B said...

And did you know that the character illustrations in Noggin the Nog were based on the Isle of Lewis chess pieces?

... actually I did know that, but only because I once rented a DVD from loveFilm.com about the Lewis chess pieces

ejh said...

Meanwhile back at the chess - which begins after about six and a half minutes for those wishing to skip - it's a Two Knights' Defence, beginning 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.ed5 Na5 6.Bb5+ and after that I'm not sure whether Kwak plays 6...Bd7 or the more conventional 6...c6. People with better eyesight and more spare time than I may like to work out which: and to see if they think the later position on the board is from an actual game (and whether it's entirely consistent from shot to shot - I wasn't sure.)

Morgan said...

I'm not wholly sure of the position at about 08:45 either, ejh. It's not quite consistent - it looks as if Henk has a knight on g5 and a bishop on h5, both of which turn black in one shot and then go back to white.

And what's the verdict on Henk jumping onto Kwak's beak? That's hardly fair play, is it?

Tom Chivers said...

Justin just emailed me to point out this third video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBEazhmeGog

ejh said...

(It contains the second half of the epispode with the chess game.)