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 ...
Michael Fox ...
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?


During his simultaneous exhibition, Clayton says that Frank Marshall once played 155 games simultaneously, losing only eight, and later having complete recall of all the moves from all the games except two of them. This actually happened, in 1922. See more »


As killer chess-champ Emmett Clayton steps into an elevator at the hotel, his shoes are light tan loafers, suede-looking, almost matching his suit. When he gets off the elevator, his shoes have been transformed to shiny black leather, with silver buckles. 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

Columbo's chess match
18 June 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This segment has 2 world class chess players about to square off against each other, even though the American appears to be obsessed with the Russian, and is quite afraid of the oncoming match, it seems. After befriending the older Russian adversary, the American(Emmett Clayton), played by Laurence Harvey then hatches a plan to murder Mr. Dudek in a rather original manner. Harvey plays a hard of hearing chess champion solidly, if not overdone a bit, but I digress. There are some interesting scenes, like the 2 men playing chess in a French restaurant, and slick dream montages of Clayton's fears, and a few with Columbo's beloved pooch. This is a fun episode to see every now and then, and the conclusion is better than many others, because the killer(for once)doesn't confess.

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