Columbo (1971–2003)
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The Most Dangerous Match 

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | Episode aired 4 March 1973
A chess player murders his opponent before a big match. Lt. Columbo must out-maneuver this crafty, but craven, killer.



(teleplay by), (story by) | 4 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Linda Robinson (as Heidi Bruhl)
Paul Jenkins ...
Proprietor (as Oscar Beregi)
Mathias Reitz ...
Richard Drout Miller ...
1st Reporter (as Drout Miller)
Manuel DePina ...
2nd Reporter
Dr. Sullivan
Abigail Shelton ...
1st Workman


Emmett Clayton has a nightmare before an important chess match: he and his opponent are chess pieces on a giant, fog-covered chess board. Clearly he's worried about his match with Tomlin Dudek, a kindly old fat Russian. Later, the two meet, not coincidentally, in a French restaurant, where they begin using the salt and pepper shakers and other objects on the table as chess pieces. The game continues in Clayton's apartment - secretly, because both Dudek's doctor and his coach would throw fits if they knew the diabetic Russian was out late, eating rich foods with his opponent. Clayton loses the impromptu game and has a nervous fit, from which Dudek tries to calm him down. The next day, Clayton decides he must murder Dudek before the match. He concocts a scheme that makes it look as if Dudek had met with an untimely accident in the hotel's trash compactor, but our rumpled and seemingly disorganized Lt. Columbo is on the case. Written by J. Spurlin

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Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 March 1973 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The final combination of the chess game played between Dudek and Clayton in the restaurant and finished in Dudek's hotel room was actually played in game Wolthuis-Alexander, Maastricht 1946. In the movie Dudek demonstrated the line leading to mate, in the actual game black resigned after the first move of combination, Qxb4. Also, Columbo, when reading from Dudek's notation, says that Black resigned on the 41st move. In the actual game from 1946, the sequence takes place earlier in the game (Black resigned on the 25th move). See more »


During the drive when Columbo picks up Clayton from the hospital, Clayton says "I stopped to pick up a new transistor for my hearing aid, it went out on me last night." He should have said battery instead of transistor-- if a transistor in his hearing aid "went out" then he needs a whole new hearing aid since transistors are not replaceable by the average person. See more »


2nd Reporter: Mr. Clayton, there's the world's most legendary chess genius, comes out of retirement just to play you, and you're not even curious enough...
Emmett Clayton: Curiosity breeds sympathy, my friend, and sympathy is one emotion a champion can not afford on the night before the match.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title "Columbo" is shown on top of a dream sequence, where the chess player is part of a life size chess game. See more »

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User Reviews

Very well done
13 March 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I have been a fan of Columbo for as long as I can remember, and I really enjoyed this episode. My only gripes are to do with one or two things that weren't quite as well thought out as another reviewer points out so well, which is the business with the hearing aid and the times that Harvey's character goes back to the hotel room without being seen happened all too easily in my view.

That said, it looks great as you would expect from a standard Columbo episode, the script is still deft and assured and the story is wonderfully paced and always interesting with a final solution that had me completely satisfied. The music is memorable too and fits well with the atmosphere and period, and the direction is tight. The acting is great, Peter Falk is stellar and Laurence Harvey brings a more intense and tormented side to his style of acting which made him all the more riveting.

Overall, a very well done episode. 8/10 Bethany Cox

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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