Chess

I'M BACK tomorrow after a fortnight in Budapest, not at a tournament but on location with a film, Luzhin's Defence. This is an adaptation by Peter Berry from Vladimir Nabokov's famous novel (simply The Defence in English) and should come out some time next year. The director is Marleen Gorris and the film stars John Turturro as the Russian grandmaster Alexander Ivanovich Luzhin and Emily Watson as the vibrant Russian beauty Natalia Katkov.

My job was as "Chess Adviser", which entailed collecting more than 50 contemporary (round about 1929) games for the tournament, and about the same number again (here I mainly used recent junior games) for various simultaneous displays and casual games by Luzhin as a boy.

More important, though, was to convey the emotions and body language of a chess-player under extreme pressure - a task that was particularly rewarding with John Turturro himself, especially in a couple of desperate time scrabbles.

Not having been on a film set before, I was struck by the immense diligence required, both in terms of working hours, from actors and crew alike; the painstaking assembly of the image that eventually appears on the screen; and the minute attention to detail required to maintain the integrity of this other world where the action takes place.

In the making of the film, the art department under Tony Burrough (who was Oscar-nominated for Richard III) commissioned some amazing props. These include a gigantic chess set, with the kings and queens taller than a man, made of solid wood; a set so massive that the the original script direction, which entailed a little boy playing Qd1-h5, was physically impossible - so instead I had him "push" or rather heave a pawn. There were also a glass chess set based on an old Chinese design; 10 demonstration boards 6ft square and one huge one 10ft square; and two beautiful wooden boards for tournament cross tables.

Once shooting is completed, the film-makers would be happy to sell these; anyone interested is welcome to contact me and I'll put them in touch.

This classic victory is one of several games of which we see a snapshot.

White: Jose Raoul Capablanca

Black: Milan Vidmar

New York 1927

Ruy Lopez

jspeelman@compuserve.com

1 e4 e5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 Bb5 a6

4 Ba4 Nf6

5 0-0 Be7

6 Re1 b5

7 Bb3 d6

8 c3 Na5

9 Bc2 c5

10 d4 Qc7

11 Nbd2 0-0

12 h3 Nc6

13 d5 Nd8

14 a4 b4

15 Nc4 a5

16 Nfxe5 Ba6

17 Bb3 dxe5

18 d6 Bxd6

19 Qxd6 Qxd6

20 Nxd6 Nb7

21 Nxb7 Bxb7

22 cxb4 cxb4

23 f3 Rfd8

24 Be3 h6

25 Red1 Bc6

26 Rac1 Be8

27 Kf2 Rxd1

28 Rxd1 Rc8

29 g4 Bd7

30 Bb6 Be6

31 Bxe6 fxe6

32 Rd8+ Rxd8

33 Bxd8 Nd7

34 Bxa5 Nc5

35 b3 Nxb3

36 Bxb4 Nd4

37 a5

1-0

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