Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 4, Episode 16 - Checkmate - full transcript

When Alex, as Leland chess club champion, duels reputed Soviet guest Ivan Rozmirovich, he takes it as a personal and patriotic challenge, stirred by a telegram from the White House. The match is commented by desperate dad Steven and American chess-master Eric Nordstrom whose seemingly silent-succinct style at his debut is likely to be his undoing as commenter. After endless equal quality, Ivan's last move before adjournment is an obvious attempt to throw the game, but why? The boys meet in a bar, and Alex learns the official pressure totally spoiled Ivan's love for the game, feeling imprisoned. He decides such fine player, no longer a Red robot but a human in his eyes, deserves better, so they both try to loose, even end up wrestling to stop each-other give-away moves...

♪ I bet we've been together
for a million years ♪

♪ and I'll bet we'll be together
for a million more ♪

♪ oh, it's like
I started breathing ♪

♪ on the night we kissed

♪ and I can't remember
what I ever did before ♪

♪ what would we do, baby

♪ without us?

♪ what would we do, baby

♪ without us?

♪ and there
ain't no nothin' ♪

♪ we can't love
each other through ♪

♪ ooh-hoo

♪ what would we do, baby

♪ without us?

♪ sha-la-la-la

Queen to Rook 5.


That's five in a row,

you worthless pile
of microchips.

You know, I could get
a better game of chess

out of the blender.

You really thought
you could beat me, didn't you?

Well, let me tell you
something, pal.

I am not the Leland college
chess champion for nothing.

I am the best.
Do you hear me?

The best!

Alex, I thought I told you
not to yell at the appliances.

You know, I have beaten this
thing five games in a row, mom.

Do you know
what that means?

That means I am in peak form
for my big match.

Tomorrow, I am gonna be
sitting across the table

from Ivan Rozmirovich,

one of the top young
Soviet chess players.

The television cameras
are gonna be rolling.

The eyes of the world
are gonna be upon me.

And, mom, I'm gonna
wipe up the board

with that
little Bolshevik.

that is a terrible attitude.

This is
a cultural event.

You should
welcome this boy here

with a spirit of cooperation
and good will.

Don't be so naive, mom.

This kid has won every match
he's played

since he's come
to the States.

Right now, Gorbachev and all
his buddies in the Kremlin

are laughing, tossing back
a few vodkas, saying,

"Keaton is next.

Once we defeat him,
nothing can stop us."

You're right.
What a fool I've been.

Hey, Alex, there's a telegram
for you in the mail

from Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

"Dear Mr. Keaton,

"on behalf
of the State Department

"and the president
of the United States,

I would like to wish you good
luck in your match tomorrow."

Look at that.

It's practically signed
by the president himself.

"Edmund P. Lockridge,

undersecretary of State
for Chess and Backgammon."

My leaders
are watching me, mom.

Hey, dad,
how's the telecast shaping up?

Were you able to get
those things I asked for?

We don't have the budget, son.
This is just a local telecast.

no slow-motion replays?

No can do.

Howard Cosell?


Goodyear Blimp?

It would never fit
in the building, Alex.

And we're now
just moments away

from the start
of this exciting match.

We are very fortunate
to have with us today

American chess grand master
Eric Nordstrom,

who will, uh,
provide us with a detailed

play-by-play analysis
of the event.

Now, Eric, this is your first
outing as a commentator,

isn't it?


Uh, thank you.

How you doing?

Oh, fine, mom.
Fine. Fine.

Look, there he is.

Ivan Rozmirovich...

A Soviet automaton...

Cold and heartless.

Do well.

- Alex...
- Hey. Guess you're excited, huh?

Um, no.

Um, Jennifer
wanted to know

if anyone's gonna be coming
around selling hot dogs.

It's unlikely.

I wanted to wish you
good luck.

"Good luck."

What do you mean
by that?

What do you mean by,
what do I mean by that?

I think you know.

Good luck, Alex.

"Good luck."
What, are you with him?


what did you say to him?

"Good luck."

What did you mean
by that?

I don't know,
but I won't say it anymore!

Good afternoon,

I'm Mildred Atkins, chairman
of the Leland University

Political Science Department.

On behalf of the university,

I should like to offer
a most gracious welcome

to our guests
from the Soviet Union,

Ivan Rozmirovich
and his coach, Vladimir Rykoff.

we wish you a hearty...

And now...
Now the match will commence.

I wish you both
good luck.

Let the chess begin.

the match is underway.


absolutely right.

It is.

Yes, we have
quite a match here.


Really something.

Very exciting.


Very exciting.

A very good move.

Thank you.

Well, both players have, uh,
just made moves.

They look like
pretty good moves to me,

but, uh, of course,
I'm just an amateur...

Unlike yourself, Eric.

What is wrong with you,

There is nothing wrong with me.
He is playing a fine match.

You must win this match.

To lose a match
to an unknown American

would be a disgrace, Ivan.
A disgrace to the Soviet Union.

Don't you realize that?

I do.

Then win.

Excuse me, uh,
ladies and gentlemen, players,

due to the length of the match,
we will adjourn until tomorrow,

following the next move
by Rozmirovich.

Bishop to Knight 2.
Are you kidding?

Excuse me.

Uh, Rozmirovich has moved
his Bishop to Knight 2.

And that's
a very unusual move.

I'm not quite sure
what it means.

I've gone over it
a thousand times in my mind.

There's no way
around it.

Bishop to Knight 2
is a bad move.

He made a bad move.

All I got to do is move
Queen to Bishop 6

and I can't lose.

Well, why are you so upset
about this, Alex?

You want to win, don't you?
Just accept it happily.

He made a bad move.

Ellen, he did not make
a bad move.

Ivan Rozmirovich is too good
to make a bad move.

How can you possibly say
he made a bad move?

I didn't say it.
You did.

It's got to be a trap
of some sort.

You know, some hidden strategy
I didn't pick up on.

Well, that sounds plausible.
It's probably a trap.

It can't be a trap,

I have played a million
games of chess.

I know a trap when I see one.
What's wrong with you?

You're right.
I'm sorry.

Maybe I'm just
underestimating myself.

I was playing a great game.
Maybe he just got thrown.

He got nervous,
and he blundered.

Well, that's probably
what happened.

He got nervous,
and he blund...

He did not get nervous
and blunder.

Ellen, he's an experienced
tournament player.

He would not get nervous
and blund...

Do you know how ridiculous
you sound?

I'm sorry.

Bishop to Knight 2.

It's like he's throwing
the match.


Listen, I got to get back
to my room.

Stop by later?

Hey, uh, Keaton,
saw you on the tube today.

Looked pretty good.

You gonna demolish
that commie tomorrow?

I'll do my best.

Rambo Keaton's
gonna get the Russki.

Real chess lovers.



Uh, Ivan. Uh, what are you...

What are you doing here?
I-i mean, come in.

Nice to see you. Do they let you
walk around here?

I'm... I'm sorry.
Um, just sit down.

Are you allowed
to sit down?

Yes, aren't you?

How are you doing?


I was just taking a walk
around the campus,

relaxing a little.

you any good at this?

I have never played.
Good. Great.

Finally, a game
I'm better than you at.

Nice shot.

You are doing superbly -
in our chess match, I mean.

When did you first
take up the game?

I don't know, I guess
I've been in love with chess

ever since
I watched the...

Bobby Fischer/Boris Spassky
World Championship, 1972?

That's right.
How did you know?

Watching that match
on television

was what got me interested
in the game, as well.

No kidding?
Oh, yes.

It was some of the most
beautiful chess ever played.

Oh, you're telling me.
It was unbelievable.

Last game.

The last game -
I know it by heart!

Move 36, remember?

Uh, Spassky moved, uh,
Bishop to King 6.

Fischer countered
with King to Bishop 5.

That's right.
Uh, Bishop to Queen 7.

to Queen Knight 8.

After this
he could not lose.

He made those pieces

Oh, I used to
love the game so much

when I was a boy.

Playing a game of chess
was like going to another world,

where I had the power
to make things happen

from my imagination.

It was the greatest thing
in my life.

w-what about now?

Now, there's no joy in the game
for me anymore.

Now, it's a prison.

I have to win all the time,
or I've disgraced myself,

I've disgraced my coach,

I've disgraced
the Soviet Union.

All I ever wanted to be
was a chess player.

I didn't want to be a flag
for my country.

but you are, Ivan.

I... I mean,
I am, too.

That's part of being
a great chess player.

You play for the honor
of your country.

I love my country,
as you love yours.

But the competition that exists
is not healthy.

Alex, why can't two people
who love the game as we do,

just play chess
for the joy of it?

Why does it have to be
international standoff?

Because, Ivan, it's...

It's part
of the friendly rivalry

that exists
between our two nations.

It's like a piano competition,
the Olympics, the arms race.

Well, I do not
want to be part of it.

I'm tired of all this.

I want to be home,

with my family,
with my friends.

I want all this to end.

Is that why you're
throwing the match?

Bishop to knight 2.

All I have to do
is move Queen to Bishop 6,

and the game's over.

You know that as well as I do.
You're losing on purpose.

It's inappropriate to discuss
the match during an adjournment.

No, no, hang on, Ivan.

Now, I think
I understand it now.

See, I am the first guy
you've played

who's given you
a close enough match

so you can lose without anyone
thinking you lost intentionally.

You slip in the rankings,
you're off the team, and it's over.

That's it, isn't it?

I do not know
what you're talking about.

Hi, darling.
your dad and I just got here.

Mal and Jen will be along
in about a half an hour.


Look, Eric, we're paying you
good money for this.

I wish you'd comment more
on the match.

Oh, all right.

I-i think both players
have handled...

Not now!

When we're on the air.

I can't believe Ivan
is throwing this match.

Well, honey,
if he really wants to lose,

there's not much you can do
to stop him.

I guess not.

For a player as good
as Ivan is to throw a match...

What the poor guy
must be going through.

Poor guy?

Is this the same person
you referred to yesterday

as "that cold,
heartless automaton"?

I call
a lot of people that.

I know.

You're right.

You know,
last night in the snack bar,

there were a couple of guys,
real jerks,

cheering me on
to "beat the commie."

And it shook me up, mom,

'cause I could hear myself
saying that.

In fact, I was saying that
just a couple of nights ago.

But the fact is,
Ivan is not a villain.

He's just a guy
who likes to play chess.

It sounds to me
like you really

don't want to win
that much anymore.

Not like this, mom.

what are you gonna do?

What choice do I have?

Edmund P. Lockridge
is watching over me,

cheering me on.

Can't let him down.

you never have before.

You want to know
something, mom?

It's a lot easier
to hate a country

than it is
to hate a person.

I remember when hate
was so simple.

Ladies and gentlemen,
welcome back.

If the players are ready,
we can resume play.

It is Mr. Keaton's turn.

Eric, will you please
say something?

it looks like Keaton

is going to Queen to Bishop 6,

a very strong move.

It could well win the match
for him.

was that so hard?

What are you doing? You were
going to move your Queen.

Yeah, well,
as you know, Ivan,

the move is not final until
I take my hand off the piece.

I've reconsidered,
decided to move my Bishop.

But the Queen move
is the better move.

Says you.

Why are you doing this?

To even things up, Ivan.

And don't pretend you don't know
what I'm talking about.

Alex, please.


it's all even now.

Bad move for bad move.

Let's play some chess,

what are you doing?

Trying to make a move,
if you'll let go of my hand.

You're making a bad move
on purpose again.

Well, uh, there's quite a bit
more grabbing going on in...

In... In today's session,
I'll say that.

I'm not gonna let you do it,

Let go of my hand.

The move is official now.

Oh, yeah?


That's an even worse move
than you made.

This is worse
than yours.

That's the worst move
you'll ever see in your life.

That is bad,
but watch this.

All right!

Let go of my hand.

Some great action here,

ladies and gentlemen.

Uh, things have really
picked up.

Will you
move your hand?

No. You're not putting
that Queen in this square, Ivan.

Now, give it to me.

Gentlemen, what is
the meaning of this?

Ivan, come back!

All right, Ivan,
drop that Queen.

Steven: Ladies and gentlemen,
this is, without a doubt,

the most exciting chess match
I've ever seen.

Well, Alex, I never thought I'd
say this after a chess match,

but nice tackle.

I was just talking
to Nordstrom.

He said that this is absolutely
a chess first...

both players disqualified
for wrestling.

Alex: Look, Ivan was
trying to lose the match

so he could drop out
of competitive chess.

But I just didn't think
a player that great

should go out with a black mark
on his record.

Well, you took care of that,
didn't you?

Alex, I'm proud of you.

Some people have to win
at any cost.

You're just
not like that.

Sure, dad,
kick me while I'm down.

Come on, everyone,
let's go home.

If you don't mind,

I'd kind of like to be alone
for a while.

All right, well,
let's us go home.

I don't think
I'll take up chess.

It's too violent.



I came for my bag.

In all the commotion,
I forgot to take it with me.


Stay back!

Uh, how you doing?

My arm is a little sore,

but the nurse at your infirmary
said it was just a sprain.

My first chess injury.

Listen, Ivan, I hope...

I mean, uh...

They're not gonna send you
to Siberia for this, are they?

Because I don't think
that's right.

I mean, if anybody should go
to Siberia, it should be me.

And I'll tell your leaders that.
I will.

I mean, who do I call?

They're closed now.

Don't worry, Alex. Neither
of us are going to Siberia.

Well, uh,
what are you gonna do?

You gonna quit
playing tournaments?

Oh, I don't know.

When I get home, I'll talk it
over with my parents.

I trust their opinion.

Sorry I put you
through all this.

No, I am glad
you did what you did.

Alex, everyone I've encountered
in the world of chess

has treated me as either
a hero or a villain.

But you acted out of concern
for me,

out of love
for the game.

Right now, I have a good feeling
about the world of chess

that I haven't had
in a long while.

I consider you my friend,

Same here, Ivan.


You should visit me
in the Soviet Union.

I would love to play another
game of chess with you someday.

No tournament,

just two friends
who love the game.

Listen, Ivan...

I'm not gonna be
in the Soviet Union

for at least
a couple of weeks.

So why don't
we play now?


Why don't we play
right now?

No flags,
no international rivalry,

no lights, no cameras,
nothing at stake.

Just a couple of guys
who like to play chess.

All right.

All right.

I'll play you
for a buck.