Well, that's funny.
May 14, 2010 12:40 PM Subscribe
In Donald Westlake's "What's So Funny"
, the macguffin is a jeweled chess set that weighs 680 lbs. This doesn't seem possible!
posted by The otter lady to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I admit that my brain freezes up when hit with math. And I also am a huge Westlake fan (well, of Dortmunder anyway) and liked the book despite stumbling over this part. But seriously. This chess set, made for a Russian Czar, is made of gold set with gems (pearls and rubies). The pieces are not solid, but "gold poured into forms around wooden dowels". The kings and queens are "just under four inches tall, the others shorter". The board was ebony and ivory, the box the whole thing came in was teak.
Even if the box and board are pretty heavy, and say 32 pieces, that's giving us a standard-size chess piece that weighs close to 20 pounds! I don't have much gold to play with but I have a chunk of tungsten here the size of a stick of butter and it's about 5 pounds.
This has got to be an error. Maybe a typo? 68 pounds would make more sense and still fit with the "too heavy for one man to carry" critera. But if it's a typo, why did no one, editor, author, all the people that I've read who've reviewed this book -- catch it?
Am I missing something?
So my question is twofold:
A. Is that weight accurate for a chess set of that size and compostion? If not, what should it weigh? Or, how big would a set have to be to weigh the stated amount (680 lbs).
B. If this is an error, why wasn't it corrected?