The David Bowie Monopoly Game Is Here: Advance to GO and Collect 200 Hunky Dorys!

Another way to pass the time while we’re snuggled in, awaiting the arrival of a vaccine: David Bowie Monopoly.

Gone are the thimble, the top hat, the old boot and other iconic game pieces you may remember from your childhood or rainy days in seaside holiday rentals.

This special edition replaces them with 6 major Bowie signifiers: a star, a skull, a Pierrot hat, a rolled up tie, a space helmet, and a lightning bolt.

Monopoly has previously catered to music fans with sets devoted to AC/DC, Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but Bowie’s chameleonic quality and highly developed aesthetic sense ensures that this one’s ephemera will appeal to all factions of the Bowieligious, not just those with the patience for a long board game.




Forget about Boardwalk and Marvin Gardens. Instead of real estate, the perimeters of the board feature albums from Bowie’s enormous catalog.

Secure albums to begin erecting stages and stadiums that other players will have to “rent” when they roll into town.

The Chance and Community Chest decks have also undergone some ch-ch-changes. Players now draw Sound and Vision cards which have the capacity to “open doors, pull some strings or bring the stars crashing down.”

Collectors will find that this set‘s paper money pairs nicely with the souvenir Metrocards from Bowie’s posthumous 2018 takeover of a New York City subway station.

The four cornerstones of Monopoly—GO, Free Parking, JAIL, and Go to Jail—remain faithful to the original, leaving some fans opining that an opportunity was missed:


When you weary of David Bowie Monopoly, you can play a couple hands of Bowie, a free downloadable card game that can be printed at home:

Each player will play David Bowie, or more accurately, a persona of David Bowie. The object of the game is to achieve the greatest legacy of any Bowie and survive the 1970’s. Legacy is judged by points earned from cutting records (flat, black, round- oh, nevermind). There is one slight problem. The Bowies are endangered by various threats, dark princes, and figures of the occult (which is in no way related to the copious amount of cocaine being inhaled by our hero). If any Bowie dies, all Bowies are dead and the game is lost.

There’s also Bowie’s appearance in the 1999 video game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul:

David Bowie Monopoly is available for purchase here.

via Dangerous Minds

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She most recently appeared as a French Canadian bear who travels to New York City in search of food and meaning in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Learn How to Play Chess Online: Free Chess Lessons for Beginners, Intermediate Players & Beyond

The most desired Christmas gift of 2020? A chess set. It’s certainly desired, at any rate, by the rapt viewers of The Queen’s Gambit, the acclaimed Netflix miniseries that debuted in October. Created by screenwriter-producers Scott Frank and Allan Scott, its seven episodes tell the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan in 1950s Kentucky who turns out to be a chess prodigy, then goes on to become a world-class player. During the Cold War, the intellectual and geopolitical prospect of American and Soviet masters going head to head stoked public interest in chess; over the past month, the surprise success of The Queen’s Gambit has had a similar effect.

Whether or not you feel a sense of kinship with the series’ unrelentingly chess-obsessed young protagonist, you may well feel an urge to learn, or re-learn, to play the game. If so, all the resources you need are online, and today we’ve rounded them up for you.




To get started, Chess.com has produced “Everything You Need to Know About Chess,” a series of Youtube videos “designed to give every aspiring chess player the ‘one chess lesson of their life’ if they were only to get one.” Watch them, or explore these web-based tutorials. And even if you don’t have a chess set of your own, you can get started playing immediately thereafter: create an account at Chess.com and you can play against the computer or real players around the world matched to your skill level, all for free.

To shore up your knowledge of the game’s fundamentals, watch this five-video series by instructor John Bartholomew on topics like undefended pieces, coordination, and typical mistakes. The Chess Website’s Youtube channel covers even more, and its basics playlist teaches everything from opening principles to the nature of individual pieces, pawn, rook, knight, and beyond.

But nobody with a taste for chess can stop at the basics, and the supply of instruction has grown to meet the demand. The St. Louis Chess Club offers a series of lectures from national masters and grandmasters geared toward beginning, intermediate, and advanced players.

At Chess School, you’ll find videos on”the greatest chess games ever played, the immortal chess games, the best games from the latest tournaments, world champion’s games, instructive chess games, famous players games and much more.” Among serious players you’ll find many fans of Agadmator, whose extensive playlists examine current masters like Magnus Carlsen, past masters like Garry Kasparov, and examples of techniques like the English Opening and the Sicilian Defense, the later of which enjoyed quite a moment in the era of The Queen’s Gambit.  The series has hardly gone unnoticed in the chess world: on channels like Chess Network, you’ll even find videos about the strategies employed by Beth Harmon, whose style has been programmed into chess-playing AI “bots.” They also have a “Beginner to Chess Master” playlist that will continually build your understanding of the game in a step by step manner.

The character’s personality, however, remains a creation of Walter Tevis, author of the eponymous novel The Queen’s Gambit. Tevis’ other works famously brought to the screen include The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth: works of literature concerned, respectively, with mastery of a deceptively complex game and the condition of the social outsider. These themes come together in The Queen’s Gambit, whose author also described it as “a tribute to brainy women.” Perhaps you plan to give such a person in your life a chess set this year. If so, you know which book to wrap up with it — apart, of course, from  Ward Farnsworth’s 700-page Predator at The Chessboard: A Field Guide To Chess Tactics. Or Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. If you have other favorite resources, please feel free to add them to the list below…

Related Content:

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A Beautiful Short Documentary Takes You Inside New York City’s Last Great Chess Store

A Brief History of Chess: An Animated Introduction to the 1,500-Year-Old Game

Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems

The Magic of Chess: Kids Share Their Uninhibited, Philosophical Insights about the Benefits of Chess

Garry Kasparov Now Teaching an Online Course on Chess

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

A Free 700-Page Chess Manual Explains 1,000 Chess Tactics in Straightforward English

Image by Michael Maggs, via Wikimedia Commons

FYI: In 2011, Ward Farnsworth published a two-volume collection called Predator at The Chessboard: A Field Guide To Chess Tactics (Volume 1Volume 2where he explains countless chess tactics in plain English. In this 700-page collection, “there are 20 chapters, about 200 topics within them, and over 1,000 [chess] positions discussed.” Now for the even better part: Farnsworth has also made these volumes available free online. Just visit chesstactics.org and scroll down the page. There you will find the content that’s otherwise available in Farnsworth’s books. With this free resource, you can start making yourself a better chess player whenever you have the urge, or especially as you watch The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Watch it go. And thank Simon Anthony when it’s done. And, oh, check out his YouTube Channel, Cracking the Cryptic

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

The Allure of Puzzlement: Pretty Much Pop #34 w/ Adal Rifai on Escape Rooms and Other Puzzling Pastimes

The comic and the tragic are well-established modes within entertainment, but what about the puzzling? Riddles may have been a chief pastime in days of yore (well, they’re featured in Oedipus and The Hobbit, anyway), but does this way of being entertained have a place in today’s age of mass media?

Improviser and podcaster Adal Rifai joins Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to discuss his love of escape rooms, riddles, and other opportunities for puzzlement. We discuss lateral vs. algorithmic thinking, group dynamics, comparisons to improvisation and trivia, riddle types, video games, and more. Some puzzle-relevant films we touch on include Escape Room, Cube, The Game, and Midnight Madness.

Some resources we used to prepare include:

Adal’s two other podcasts are Hello From the Magic Tavern and Siblings Pecular. Follow him @adalrifai. He performs regularly on Whirled News Tonight at Chicago’s IO Theater.

Every Pretty Much Pop episode includes bonus, post-episode discussion, and this time Adal stayed around for a little more on escape rooms (can they engage all five senses?) and quite a bit more on podcasting, including the parasocial relationships that listeners may have with podcast hosts. This was sufficiently fun that we’d like to share it with all of you, in hopes that you might then want to hear this for all our our episodes by supporting us at patreon.com/prettymuchpop.

This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast (prettymuchpop.com) is curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

The Magic of Chess: Kids Share Their Uninhibited, Philosophical Insights about the Benefits of Chess

From the US Chess Federation and director Jenny Schweitzer comes the short documentary, The Magic of Chess. “Filmed at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championships at the Nashville Opryland resort, a group of children share their uninhibited, philosophical insights about the benefits of chess.” Jenny Schweitzer added: “For me, as a mother of a child who simply loves the game, it was my intention to focus not on the competitive aspects of the chess world, but rather what a deep commitment to chess can potentially offer someone, young or old.” If this whets your appetite, explore some of our chess resources below.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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A Brief History of Chess: An Animated Introduction to the 1,500-Year-Old Game

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A Beautiful Short Documentary Takes You Inside New York City’s Last Great Chess Store

Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems

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David Lynch Turns Twin Peaks into a Virtual Reality Game: Watch the Official Trailer

When David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks premiered on ABC in 1990, viewers across America were treated to a televisual experience like none they’d ever had before. Four years earlier, something similar had happened to the unsuspecting moviegoers who went to see Lynch’s breakout feature Blue Velvet, an experience described as eye-opening by even David Foster Wallace. A dedicated meditator with an interest in plunging into unexplored realms of consciousness, Lynch tends to bring his audience right along with him in his work, whether that work be cinema, television, visual art, music, or comic strips. Only natural, then, that Lynch would take an interest in the artistic and experiential possibilities of virtual reality.

Last year we featured the first glimpse of a Twin Peaks virtual reality experience in development, revealed at Lynch’s Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles. “The best news is that the company developing the game, Collider Games, is giving creative control to Lynch,” wrote Ted Mills, and now, with the release of Twin Peaks VR‘s official trailer, we can get a clearer idea of what Lynch has planned for players. As Laura Snoad writes at It’s Nice That, Lynch has used the opportunity to revisit “well-known environments featured in the series, such as the iconic Red Room (the stripy-floored, velvet curtain-clad parallel universe where Agent Cooper meets murdered teen Laura Palmer), the Twin Peaks’ Sheriff’s Department and the pine-filled forest around the fictional Washington town.”




This will come as good news indeed to those of us Twin Peaks enthusiasts who’ve made the pilgrimage to Snoqualmie, North Bend, and Fall City, the real-life Washington towns where Lynch and his collaborators shot the series. But Twin Peak VR will offer a greater variety of challenges than snapping photos of the series’ locations and chatting with bemused locals: Snoad writes that each environment is constructed like an escape room. “Solving puzzles to help Agent Cooper and Gordon Cole (the FBI agent played by Lynch himself), players will also meet some of the show’s weird and terrifying characters, from the backwards-speaking inhabitants of the Black Lodge to the terrifying Bob himself.”

Available via Steam on Oculus Rift, Vive, and Valve Index this month, with Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR versions scheduled, Twin Peaks VR should give a fair few virtual-reality holdouts a compelling reason to put on the goggles — much as Twin Peaks the show caused the cinéastes of the 1990s to break down and watch evening TV. Enjoying Lynch’s work, whatever its medium, has always felt like plunging into a dream: not like watching his dream, but experiencing a dream he’s made for us. If virtual-reality technology has finally come anywhere close to the vividness of Lynch’s imagination, Twin Peaks VR will mark the next step in his artistic evolution. But for now, to paraphrase no less a Lynch fan than Wallace, the one thing we can say with total confidence is that it will be… Lynchian.

via It’s Nice That

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Brief History of Chess: An Animated Introduction to the 1,500-Year-Old Game

I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.

 –Marcel Duchamp

“Over the roughly one and half millennia of its existence, chess has been known as a tool of military strategy, a metaphor for human affairs, and a benchmark of genius,” points out the TED-Ed animated history of the game by Alex Gendler, above. The first records of chess date to the 7th century, but it may have originated even a century earlier, in India, where we find mention of the first game to have different moves for different pieces, and “a single king piece, whose fate determined the outcome.”

It was originally called “chaturanga,” a word that Yoga practitioners will recognize as the “four-limbed staff pose,” but which simply meant “four divisions” in this context. Once it spread to Persia, it became “chess,” meaning “Shah,” or king. It took root in the Arab world, and traveled the Silk Road to East and Southeast Asia, where it acquired different characteristics but used similar rules and strategies. The European form we play today became the standard, but it might have been a very different game had the Japanese version—which allowed players to put captured pieces into play—dominated.




Chess found ready acceptance everywhere it went because its underlying principles seemed to tap into common models of contest and conquest among political and military elites. Though written over a thousand years before “chaturanga” arrived in China—where the game was called xiangqi, or “elephant game”—Sun Tzu’s Art of War may as well have been discussing the critical importance of pawns in declaring, “When the officers are valiant and the troops ineffective the army is in distress.”

Chess also speaks to the hierarchies ancient civilizations sought to naturalize, and by 1000 AD, it had become a tool for teaching European noblemen the necessity of social classes performing their proper roles. This allegorical function gave to the pieces the roles we know today, with the piece called “the advisor” being replaced by the queen in the 15th century, “perhaps inspired by the recent surge of strong female leaders.”

Early Modern chess, freed from the confines of the court and played in coffeehouses, also became a favorite pastime for philosophers, writers, and artists. Treatises were written by the hundreds. Chess became a tool for summoning inspiration, and performing theatrical, often Punic games for audiences—a trend that ebbed during the Cold War, when chessboards became proxy battlegrounds between world superpowers, and intense calculation ruled the day.

The arrival of IBM’s Deep Blue computer, which defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in 1996, signaled a new evolution for the game, a chess singularity, as it were, after which computers routinely defeated the best players. Does this mean, according to Marcel Duchamp’s observation, that chess-playing computers should be considered artists? Chess’s earliest adopters could never have conceived of such a question. But the game they passed down through the centuries may have anticipated all of the possible outcomes of human versus machine.

Related Content:

Garry Kasparov Now Teaching an Online Course on Chess

A Free 700-Page Chess Manual Explains 1,000 Chess Tactics in Plain English

Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems

Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov Relives His Four Most Memorable Games

When John Cage & Marcel Duchamp Played Chess on a Chessboard That Turned Chess Moves Into Electronic Music (1968)

Marcel Duchamp, Chess Enthusiast, Created an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Available via 3D Printer

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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