Columbo (1971–2003)
24 user 8 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 »

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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 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:

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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 »


After Linda packs Dudek's medications into the bag, she holds the handles with the strap between them when she closes it and walks through the door of the bathroom. In the wide shot of her walking through the door, the bag is latched properly. See more »


[last lines]
Columbo: I'm sorry, Mr. Clayton, but along with all the other trivial evidence that we've talked about, the murderer in this case just had to be a deaf man.
See more »

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User Reviews

Brief mystery has its moments
28 July 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

THE MOST DANGEROUS MATCH is a typical episode of Columbo that benefits from a good guest actor and some ferocious moments, particularly in the latter stages. It's a brief mystery which takes over half an hour for the murderer to commit his crime, so the trusty Lieutenant Columbo doesn't have much time to get to grips with him in this one.

The story is set around the world of chess experts which adds a fun and novel slant to the proceedings. Laurence Harvey's mannered performance is very effective, especially when his cool demeanour starts to break down towards the end. The bit where Columbo hounds him at a public chess demonstration is classic viewing but the twist ending is even better and something I didn't see coming. As usual Peter Falk gives a wry turn as the Columbo, and has a few funny moments involving his dog.

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