Plot London 1986
The president of the International Chess Federation explains the history of the game of chess Story of Chess), before announcing the location of the upcoming world chess championship: the northern Italian town of Merano (the year of this tournament being 1979, according to the notes in the recent live album recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra). As the townsfolk prepare for the occasion Merano, the brash American champion Frederick Trumper arrives with his second and implied lover: Hungarian-born, British-raised Florence Vassy What a Scene! What a Joy!. In their hotel room, Florence explains to Freddie that the press will portray him badly if he continues with his bad boy behavior Commie Newspapers, just before he heads off to a press conference where he attacks a journalist who questions his relationship with Florence Press Conference. Freddie's Russian challenger, Anatoly Sergievsky and Alexander Molokov, Anatoly's second (and a KGB agent), watch with curiosity and disdain on TV Anatoly and Molokov, before Anatoly laments the selling out of his dreams and ambitions to get where he is today Where I Want to Be.
The opening ceremony features the U.S. and Soviet delegates each vowing their side will win Difficult and Dangerous Times, the Chess Federation president (who is also the referee of the tournament: The Arbiter) insisting on holding the proceedings together The Arbiter, and marketers looking to make a profit The Merchandisers. During the increasingly intense match, Freddie suddenly bursts out of the arena, leaving the chessboard on the floor Chess #1, and Florence to pick up the pieces with Anatoly, Molokov, and The Arbiter, whereby she promises to bring Freddie and Anatoly together to sort out their issues Quartet – A Model of Decorum and Tranquility. It turns out that Freddie engineered the outburst to get a higher price from the American media company, Global Television, though Walter de Courcey, the company's agent overseeing the match and a member of Freddie's delegation, criticizes the stunt as ludicrous. When Florence finds out, she and Freddie argue, leading Florence to get angry with Freddie when he maliciously turns the argument toward her father, believed captured by Soviet forces during the 1956 Budapest uprising 1956 – Budapest is Rising. She reflects cynically about chess and politics Nobody's Side before heading off to the Merano Mountain Inn for the meeting between the two sides. Freddie does not immediately turn up, leaving Anatoly and Florence awkwardly alone together; however, they eventually embrace as surprising romantic feelings arise before being interrupted by Freddie, who has been working out new financial terms with Global TV Mountain Duet.
The chess tournament proceeds, culminating in a series of victories for Anatoly with only one game left to determine the winner of the entire tournament Chess #2. Due to Freddie's atrocious attitude in the aftermath of his defeats, Florence leaves him Florence Quits, whereby Freddie ponders how his unhappy childhood left him the man he is today Pity the Child. He sends The Arbiter a letter of resignation, resulting in Anatoly's becoming the new world champion. Immediately, Anatoly defects from the Soviet Union and goes to the British embassy, where he attempts to seek asylum in England Embassy Lament. Florence, accompanying Anatoly, reflects on their new-found love Heaven Help My Heart. Walter tips off the press as to this new story and they ambush Anatoly and Florence at Merano Station Anatoly and the Press. When the mob of reporters asks Anatoly why he is deserting his country, he tells them that his land's only borders lie around his heart. Anthem
A year later, Anatoly is set to defend his championship in Bangkok, Thailand Golden Bangkok. Freddie is already there, chatting up locals and experiencing the Bangkok nightlife One Night in Bangkok because he is now Global TV's chess pundit and their special presenter for this year's championship. Florence and Anatoly are now openly lovers, and worry about Freddie's sudden reappearance as well as the impending arrival of Anatoly's estranged wife, Svetlana, from Russia One More Opponent" / "You and I, which Anatoly suspects is part of Molokov's plan to shame him into returning to the Soviet Union. Molokov, meanwhile, has trained a new protégé, Leonid Viigand, to challenge Anatoly, while spying on the opposing pair and plotting Anatoly's downfall The Soviet Machine.
Walter, now Freddie's boss at Global (and clearly a CIA agent), manipulates Freddie into embarrassing Anatoly on live TV during an uncomfortable and eventually heated interview between the two former opponents. Anatoly finally storms out after being prodded ruthlessly by Freddie and shown footage of Svetlana's arrival The Interview. Molokov, who indeed is responsible for Svetlana's presence in Bangkok, now blackmails her into making Anatoly lose the match. Walter, who has been promised the release of certain American agents if he can ruin Anatoly's game, informs Florence that her father is still alive though imprisoned in Russia, and that he too will be released if she can convince Anatoly to lose. Neither of these ploys work to get Anatoly to throw the game, however, so Molokov and Walter team up to get Freddie to personally persuade Anatoly and Florence, knowing that Freddie is vengeful toward Anatoly and interested in winning back the love of Florence. The pair, though, refuses to negotiate with Freddie The Deal.
Svetlana and Florence talk one-on-one for the first time about their relationships with Anatoly, Florence ultimately admitting that it would be best for Anatoly to return to his family I Know Him So Well. Anatoly, meanwhile, is sent an anonymous letter telling him to go to Wat Pho, which he does; to his surprise, Freddie appears, having decided to disconnect from his personal issues with the tournament and to merely facilitate a brilliant match, regardless of his own conflicts with Anatoly. Because of this new change in attitude, Freddie informs Anatoly of a significant flaw in Viigand's play that will help Anatoly win Talking Chess. In the deciding game of the match, with the score at five games all, Anatoly manages to take a superb win against Viigand, and realizes that it may be the only success he can achieve in his life at this time; the victory comes even as Svetlana castigates Anatoly for wallowing in the crowd's empty praise and Florence expresses similar annoyance with him for casting aside his moral ideals Endgame. Later, Florence admits her sentiments about how he should return to the Soviet Union and the pair reflects on their story that seemed so promising You and I – Reprise. Florence is left alone when Walter approaches to inform her that Anatoly has unexpectedly defected back to the U.S.S.R., meaning that her father will certainly be released. He startlingly admits, however, that no one actually knows if her father is still alive. Florence breaks down, telling Walter that he is using people's lives for nothing, before repeating Anatoly's sentiments from the end of the first act, that her only borders lie around her heart Finale.
Plot Broadway 1988
The American version has different settings and a completely different Act 2 from the West End, London version. In particular, the entire show is about one chess match, not two. Act 1 involves the first part of the match, which is held in Bangkok, Thailand, while Act 2 handles the conclusion, and is set in Budapest, Hungary. Also, the incumbent champion is switched in the American version (that is, Anatoly Sergievsky rather than Freddie Trumper) as is the winner of the final Sergievsky-Trumper match (i.e. Trumper rather than Sergievsky).
In 1956, a Hungarian revolutionary, Gregor Vassy, calmly explains to his daughter Florence the history of chess, before the two are separated in the midst of a violent rebellion in Budapest Prologue" / "The Story of Chess. Decades later at a press conference, a brash American chess player, Freddie Trumper, relishes the crowd's affection in Bangkok Press Conference, while the current world champion, a young Russian named Anatoly Sergievsky, and his second, Molokov (a KGB agent), watch with curiosity and disdain Where I Want to Be. During the match Chess, Freddie accuses Anatoly of receiving outside help via the flavor of yogurt he is eating, and Freddie storms out, leaving his second, Florence (now an émigrée in the U.S. who escaped Hungary during the 1956 uprisings) in an argument with The Arbiter and the Russians. Florence later scolds Freddie, but he insists that she should unwaveringly support him You Want to Lose Your Only Friend?.
Freddie, supposed to attend a meeting with Florence and Antoly to smooth things over, is sidetracked by the nightlife One Night in Bangkok and shows up late, stumbling upon the scene of Anatoly and Florence who—having waited a while for Freddie's arrival—quickly developed feelings for one another and are now holding hands Terrace Duet. When Freddie accuses Florence of conspiring against him, she decides to leave him Florence Quits" / "Nobody's Side. As the match continues, Freddie, distracted by his developing personal problems, flounders, finishing the first act with 1 win and 5 losses; one more loss will cost him the match. Anatoly surprises everyone by suddenly defecting from the Soviet Union. Answering reporters' questions about his loyalties, he declares that national borders do not matter to him as much as the borders around his heart, i.e. his new-found love for Florence Anthem.
Eight weeks later, everyone is in Budapest to witness the conclusion of the match The Arbiter" / "Hungarian Folk Song. Florence is elated to be back in her hometown of Budapest, but dismayed that she remembers none of it Heaven Help My Heart. The scheming Molokov offers to help her find her missing father and starts "investigating" the fate of Florence's father. The plot quickly spins into political intrigue involving the Russians' attempts to get Anatoly back No Contest; even Svetlana, Anatoly's estranged wife, has been flown into Budapest to pressure him to return to the Soviet Union. These threats strain Anatoly's relationship with Florence You and I, and she shares her woes with Svetlana I Know Him So Well. The boot is on the other foot, and the stress of personal problems now impedes Anatoly's ability to play chess, so that Freddie starts winning games until they are tied 5–5. Molokov brings Florence to see a man claiming to be her father Lullaby, and implies that harm will come to the man if Florence remains with Anatoly.
During the final game Anatoly realizes that despite all the harm he has brought with his defection, he cannot hurt his true love, Florence, by depriving her of her father. He chooses to recant his defection and makes a tactical error during the game. Freddie immediately takes advantage of the blunder and proceeds to win the game and the match, becoming the new world champion Endgame. Anatoly returns to Russia a broken man.
Florence is waiting for her father so they can leave for America when she is approached by a stranger who introduces himself as Walter. He confesses to her that the old man is not her father and her father is most likely dead. It seems that the Soviets struck a deal with Walter, a secret CIA agent, that if they managed to get Anatoly back, they would release a captured American spy. Their initial attempts at getting Anatoly back by using Svetlana and other family members had failed, and they had finally succeeded by using Florence. As the curtain closes, Florence has left Freddie, been lost by Anatoly, and lost the father she never had, and she realizes, like Anatoly, that love is all that matters Anthem – Reprise.