Columbo (1971–2003)
26 user 6 critic

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.


Edward M. Abroms


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


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Laurence Harvey ... Emmett Clayton
Lloyd Bochner ... Mazoor Berozski
Jack Kruschen ... Tomlin Dudek
Heidi Brühl ... Linda Robinson (as Heidi Bruhl)
Paul Jenkins ... Sergeant Douglas
Michael Fox ... Dr. Benson
Oscar Beregi Jr. ... Proprietor (as Oscar Beregi)
Mathias Reitz Mathias Reitz ... Anton
Richard Drout Miller Richard Drout Miller ... 1st Reporter (as Drout Miller)
Manuel DePina Manuel DePina ... 2nd Reporter
Stuart Nisbet ... Dr. Sullivan
Abigail Shelton Abigail Shelton ... Nurse
John Finnegan ... 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 March 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'ultimo scacco matto See more »

Filming Locations:

Universal City, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Laurence Harvey, the actor who played Emmett Clayton, unfortunately passed away the same year this was released. See more »


As Columbo and his sergeant are examining the crime scene at the trash compactor, they both put their hands on the railing being dusted for fingerprints and palm prints by the print technician only inches away. See more »


Emmett Clayton: Well, chess *is* the ultimate test of the human mind, isn't it?
Tomlin Dudek: You think so? I always thought it was women.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Wonderfully tense throughout
20 November 1999 | by RosabelSee all my reviews

It is a delight to watch Laurence Harvey as a neurotic chess player, who schemes to murder the opponent he cannot defeat at the chessboard. This movie has wonderful pacing and several cliffhanger moments, as Harvey's plot several times seems on the point of failure or exposure, but he manages to beat the odds yet again. Columbo wages a skilful war of nerves against this high-strung genius, and the scene where he manages to rattle him enough to cause him to make a mistake while playing chess is one of the highlights of the movie, as Harvey looks down in disbelief at the board, where he has just allowed himself to be checkmated. The climax is almost as strong, and watching Laurence Harvey collapse completely as his scheme is exposed brings the movie to a satisfying finish. Highly recommended.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 26 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed