The Cold War comes to Columbo in way of a chess match. The champion, Emmett Clayton, chess master faces Tomlin Dudek, from the Soviet Union, who comes out of retirement. It is a mystery about stress, chess, and garbage shredding. Here are 5 things you have missed watching “The Most Dangerous Match”
Number 1: The relationship with Linda Robinson
Linda Robinson’s backstory intertwines the history of both chess masters. She is the jaded, ex-fiance to Emmett Clayton and has nothing but contempt for him. Tomlin Dudek was good friends to her mother “in the old country”. Being the link between the two, she orchestrates the match hoping Dudek will take everything that matters from her ex-boyfriend.
“I saw you looking at Clayton with such daggers! Such emotion!” – Tomlin Dudek
Number 2: Tomlin Dudek’s psychological warfare
“The Most Dangerous Match” makes Tomlin Dudek look like a gentle, old soul. With his gentle demeanor and humble sense of humor, he is a lovable man and regarded as one of most innocent victims least deserving of his fate. Listen to Emmett Clayton tear Dudek’s facade and call him out for playing head games. When Clayton brags he’s immune, Dudek laughs him off. Not because the accusation is absurd, but as Dudek reminded Clayton, had lured him to the restaurant.
“I must warn you Mr. Dudek, I’m very aware of your blatant psychological warfare.” – Emmett Clayton
Number 3: The chess match was over in the restaurant
It was Emmett’s idea to have a makeshift chess game at the dinner table with salt and pepper shakers and snail shells as pieces. Watch Dudek lure Clayton to an aggressive, first “check”. From that moment, Dudek controlled the board and frazzled Clayton to retreat to the hotel. But the game was long over and we see Dudek was several moves ahead of him.
“Perhaps, there is one too many beautiful ladies here. Like, Linda Robinson, perhaps?”
Number 4: Dudek retired leaving Emmet Clayton a distant second
Tomlin Dudek retired five years earlier because he had gotten sick. The people from his country complain the American would have never had been champion otherwise. Clayton questions the reports patriotism for raising the subject. As we will see, an older, sicker Tomlin can play circles around Clayon while enjoying a meal of escargot.
Number 5: Two stories about stress
The episode makes clear Clayton was about to crack. As the reigning champ, he was badgered by reports who questioned his legitimacy. His ex-fiance is within eye shot stabbing him with her eyes. When he loses an unsanctioned game, he has an homicidal episode. Overlooked, is the pressure put on Dudek. Coming out of retirement, he’s a diabetic, on a restricted diet, and his closet aids worry he’ll crack his tired brain and disgrace their country. It is two different tales about how each handle stress. Dudek enjoys snails, fresh bread, and wine. Clayton tosses his opponent in a trash compactor.
“The Most Dangerous Match”
Season 2, episode 7