Dangerous Moves (1984)
"La diagonale du fou" (original title)

 |  Drama, Thriller  |  24 May 1985 (USA)
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Two masters of chess duel each other not only in their game but also in their different ideologies. The veteran Akiva is a Soviet Jew and ferocious Communist, master of his game but also ... See full summary »



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Akiva Liebskind
Alexandre Arbatt ...
Pavius Fromm
Marina Fromm
Henia Liebskind
Wojciech Pszoniak ...
Le grand maître Felton - l'équipe de Fromm
Miller, l'équipe de Fromm
Tac-Tac, l'équipe de Liebskind
Hubert Saint-Macary ...
Stepan Ivanovitch Kerossian - l'équipe de Liebskind
Pierre Michaël ...
Serge Avedikian ...
Pierre Vial ...
Anton Heller
Bernhard Wicki ...
Jacques Boudet ...
Benoît Régent ...


Two masters of chess duel each other not only in their game but also in their different ideologies. The veteran Akiva is a Soviet Jew and ferocious Communist, master of his game but also dealing with a declining health while the young and restless genius Pavius has defected to the West to escape from the Communism tentacles. Their differences will be put to test while they're both competing in the World Chess Championship, with a huge prize at stake just as much as the political ideologies behind those characters. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

24 May 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dangerous Moves  »

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Did You Know?


In the final game, Pavius and Akiva play the French Defence / Paulsen Attack. The moves are as follows: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Be2 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nh6 8. Nc3 Nf5 9. Na4 Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Qa5 11. Bc3 b5 12. a3 Bxc3+ 13. Nxc3 b4 14. axb4 Qxb4 The film ends here; at this point, it is much too early in the game to determine who will win. See more »


Early in the film, Liebskind describes a move as "Rook to G-10". There is no G-10 on the chessboard; the numbers only go to 8. This error is in the subtitles only and was a mistranslation; the actual line ends with "huit", French for eight. See more »


Pavius Fromm: Check. Check.
Akiva Liebskind: Mate! Mate!
[wins one match]
See more »


Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

A major disappointment!
23 August 2003 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

A well filmed movie of the tense contest for the World Championship between Soviet player Akiva Liebeskind (undoubtedly modeled after International Grandmaster Akiba Rubenstein, a magnificent master of the endgame, originally a rabbinical student in Poland who never quite made it to the World Championship level and declined into mental illness), and Liebeskind's challenger, Grandmaster Pavius Fromm (almost certainly named after "From" of the From's Gambit in chess). Fromm, a Lithuanian political exile from behind the Iron Curtain, is an arrogant dislikeable pawn of the Soviets who have kept his wife prisoner. Virtually unrecognizable are their wives, the once lovely Leslie Caron and Swedish star Liv Ullman who have little more than bit parts.

Personally, as a chessplayer who has been struggling to find the secret of chess for almost 30 years, it was made clear that Grandmasters of chess see farther than us ordinary mortals when Liebeskind analyzes his strategy to win the next game with the final coup by moving a Rook to the square G10! (The chessboard has only 8x8 squares.) Many incidents from the real history of chess are keyed into the script. When analyzing a game with his team, he objects to a player putting a cigarette to his mouth. "But it is not lit!" his friend replies. "Yes," says Liebeskind, "but it is well known that in chess the threat is greater than the execution". A quote right from Emmanuel Lasker, World Champion for 27 years. And this actualy occurred in a top level chess match when a player put an unlit cigar in his mouth, and his opponent protested.

When each player's team brings in a parapsychologist to stare down or even hypnotize his the opponent, there are vigorous protests. Exactly what happened in a match in Baguio City, the Phillipines when World Champion Anatoly Karpov's team brought parapsychologist Dr. Zharkov from Moscow to stare down the challenger, dissident and escapee from the Soviet Union, Viktor Korchnoi. (Korchnoi lost the match.)

In the end, I found the script of this move poorly written, disappointing in the ending, well acted and portraying the world of chess and a World Championship contest reasonably well. One jarring note was the large number and rows of empty seats in the auditorium where the World Championship was being played. In the real world, every seat would have been taken and overflow audiences would have been in auxiliary rooms watching on TV with commentary from other GM's unheard by the players. Did the producers just try to save a few pennies but not hiring enough extras to fill the seats? Hard to understand when clearly this was an expensive and lavish film portrayal of a World Chess Championship.

Almost a good movie. As a long time chessplayer, I am glad I watched it. I cannot recommend it as worthwhile for general audiences.

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