TIM RICE 1990














THE ARBITER                          International Chess Federation

FREDDIE TRUMPER                      American Chess Champion

ANATOLY SERGIEVSKY                   Soviet Chess Champion

FLORENCE VASSY                       Anglo/American, born Czech

SVETLANA SERGIEVSKA                  Married to Anatoly

WALTER de COURCEY                    American Official

2 EMBASSY OFFICIALS                  British Diplomats


























Yje Australian Production of CHESS

premiered at the Theatre Royal, Sydney

on the 3rd of February, 1990






TEL: 224 8444    FAX: 223-3994





This is the script for the Australian production of CHESS - Tim Rice’s full text (book & lyrics).  While it includes some stage directions specific to this production, they have been kept to a minimum.


Some points about the characters:


It is important to understand the equation between the two Chess-players.  At the beginning FREDDIE is the brash, passionate, single-minded Champion.  ANATOLY is a more reasonable and sophisticated player.  By the end, though not so neatly, their roles have reversed.


FLORENCE, who is the emotional centre of the drama, begins by announcing herself as “a citizen of the world,” but will find that freedom has a price and history a pivotal role in people’s lives.  Her conflict between emotional allegiance and personal liberty, locates the central theme of CHESS.


The loyal SVETLANA finds her sense of security under siege and departs a worldlier figure.


Of Course, BANGKOK is the perfect city to play host and catalyst to these emotional upheavals.


Representing the International Chess Federation, THE ARBITER views all these antics with a wry, almost spiritual detachment, until they start to intrude on his world - the world of CHESS.


WALTER and MOLOKOV, behind their entertaining masks of conviviality, are practised opportunists.  They believe passionately in their differing systems and genuinely regard the game as more important that its players.


The HOTEL GUESTS, TOURISTS, CITIZENS, etc. represent the vox populi, as they might in a Greek tragedy.


CHESS is virtually unique among modern musicals, in being neither nostalgic nor a period costume drama.  It extends the tradition of the popular, romantic musical by turning its clear gaze on the world around us.  The entire show also perfectly illustrates Dorothy Parker’s legendary Hollywood maxim: “It may come as a surprise to you, Mr. Goldwyn, but noone’s life has a happy ending.”


                                              Jim Sharman [director]

                                              Sydney, 1990



























The Australian production of CHESS is set

in and around an international hotel in the

city of Bangkok at a time when the cold war

years were giving way to a new age of openness









PRELUDE (“You and I” theme).  The curtain rises to reveal a gauze cloth depicting The Emerald Buddha.  As the drums introduce the “BANGKOK” theme, silhouettes are glimpsed through the cloth.  The gauze flies out to reveal the soaring atrium of an internation hotel in Bangkok.  Glittering guests and hotel staff are gathered for a Thai Dance performance, illustrating the origins of the game of Chess.  Two warriors battle on a chessboard stage, around a globe of the world.  The battle intensifies to a struggle for global supremacy climaxing in an explosion.  From the smoke, a figure emerges.  It is the ARBITER, dressed as a contemporary nightclub compere.  With the assembled guests and staff, he sings:



The Story of CHESS



Each game of chess means there's one less

Variation left to be played

Each day got through means one or two

Less mistakes remain to be made


(The following fable is delicately illustrated by a series of mythical tableaux - the brothers fighting, the mother weeping, etc.)



Not much is known

Of early days of chess beyond a fairly vague report

That fifteen hundred years ago two princes fought

Though brothers, for a Hindu throne


Their mother cried

For no-one really likes their offspring

   fighting to the death

She begged them stop the slaughter

   with her every breath

But sure enough one brother died



Sad beyond belief

She told her winning son

You have caused such grief

I can't forgive this evil thing you've done


He tried to explain

How things had really been

But he tried in vain

No words of his could mollify the queen



And so he asked the wisest men he knew

The way to lessen her distress


They told him he'd be pretty certain to impress

By using model soldiers on

A chequered board to show it was his brother's


They thus invented ...


(The Two Small Children are revealed, concentrating intently on a game of chess.)




... chess


(The Arbiter formally bows)


Scene transition:





Guests disperse.  Atrium elevators descend.  Fanfare.  The ARBITER snaps us into the present with the following announcement:



Our game plan commences with the arrival of two chess warriors at the International Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. 


From PS elevator step FREDDIE/FLORENCE/WALTER.  From OP elevator, ANATOLY/SVETLANA/MOLOKOV.Bangkok music.  “Welcome” banner.  The Arbiter steps into the action at a bank of press microphones:



(very formal)

On behalf of the king and the people of Thailand, and the International Chess Federation, I am proud to welcome you to the ancient culture of Thailand and the magnificent city of Bangkok, the world's two greatest players of the ancient and magnificent game of chess.  Frederick Trumper of the United States, the world champion.  And the new challenger for his title, champion of the Soviet Union, Anatoly Sergievsky.



(to Anatoly)

Mr. Sergievsky, may I present my second, Miss Florence Vassy.



My pleasure, Miss Vassy. 


(he kisses her hand.  They exchange smiles)



Mr. Sergievsky.  May I present Mr. Walter de Courcey, the member of our delegation responsible for the commercial aspects of this enterprise -



A necessary evil, I’m afraid, Mr. Sergievsky, when there is so much media attention -




Yes, of course. 

(turns to Florence)

Miss Vassy, I'm delighted the days of chess being an all-male preserve are over.


(Florence smiles, Molokov intervenes)



I am Mr. Sergievsky's second, Miss Vassy.



Mr. Molokov - I know you by reputation.



And we know you, Miss Vassy.



Thank you.



Yes we take a great interest in Czechoslovak citizens who have made a success of life in the West -



Oh, I'm a citizen of the world, now, Mr. Molokov.



(to Freddie)

Mr. Trumper.

(to Walter)

We have no equivalent delegate with your particular talents, Mr. de Courcey - whatever they may be.



Mr. Molokov -



Our champion is , however, blessed with the support of his wife.  Mr. Trumper, Miss Vassy, Mr. de Courcey - Svetlana Sergievska.


Florence crosses to SVETLANA.



Have you traveled abroad with your husband before, Mrs. Sergievsky? 



Nyet.  I'm looking forward to discovering your sophisticated world, Miss Vassy.


(They each step down in turn to sing, though still addressing their respective opposite numbers)



(to Svetlana)

When you make good in any calling           (music: EnDgame/

Suddenly half the world is falling           MODEL OF DECORUM)

Over itself to be your friend.



That's okay by me.



(to Freddie)

"Tough at the top," is that the cliche?

I have to learn as nouveau riche -



- A

New kid in town.  You might not like

What you want to be.


molokov & Walter

A job to do well, an empty canvas

A game that's more important than its players.



(except arbiter)

The unbridled joy

Anticipating all the

Complications of a simple board game




All the complications

of a simple board game    All the

The many complications    complications

of a simple board game.   of a simple board game.


Svetlana departs with Molokov and Florence with Walter.



(to audience)

For kings of chess to be at their best, it's important for them to assimilate the local atmosphere - thus, we see the world champion and his challenger head downtown.



Scene Three: THE CITY


Freddie and Anatoly plus Tourists and Citizens.  The reaction of each player to the blandishments of the Tourists and Citizens illustrates some basic differences in their personalities - Anatoly much more polite in refusing.


One Night in Bangkok



Bangkok!  Oriental setting

And the city don't know what the city is getting

The creme de la creme of the chess world in a

Show with everything but Yul Brynner.


(Monks with shopping bags hurry by)



Bangkok!  Just another stop in

The chess world circus - masters drop in,

Play, checkmate, check out and then you

Move on to another venue.


Like Reykjavik -



Or the Philippines -



or Moscow -



Or ... this place!


(Crowd of tourists appear with tour guide)



One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster

The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free

You'll find a god in every golden cloister

And if you're lucky then the god's a she

I can feel an angel sliding up to me



One town's very like another



When your head's down over your pieces, brother


(A tout accosts Freddie)


tout #1

It's a drag -


tout #2

It's a bore -



It's really such a pity

To be looking at the board, not looking at the city



Whaddaya mean?  You've seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town, you've seen 'em all!



(as her Bar-girls solicit Freddie's attention)

Tea, girls, warm, sweet

Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham Suite.



Get Thai'd!  I ain't a tourist

My every move's among the purest.


(at a clap from the Madam, the girls transfer their attentions to Anatoly)



I get my kicks above the waistline, comrades!


(Another tour group appears)



One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble

Can't be too careful with your company

I can feel the devil walking next to me.


(Buddhist shrine revealed.  Monks attend with garlands - photographed by tourists)



Bangkok!  Oriental leaven

Of the best of hell and the worst of heaven

A winning smile - a false impression

A rush of blood - an indiscretion.


Bangkok!  The lights concealing

Silky thieves of reason, stealing

Out before its victim's waken

This is how the West was taken.



One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble

Can't be too careful with your company

I can feel the devil walking next to me.



Siam's gonna be the witness

To the ultimate test in cerebral fitness

This grips me more than would a

Muddy old river or reclining Buddah.

(to Anatoly)

I don't see these guys rating

The kind of mate we're contemplating

We'd let 'em watch, we would invite 'em

But the queens we use would not excite 'em


So they'd better go back to their bars, their temples,    their massage parlors....


(Shrine transforms into nightclub with Bar-girls, Go-Go dancers, drunken tourists, etc.)



One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster

The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free

You'll find a god in every golden cloister

A little flesh, a little history

I can feel an angel sliding up to me.


(Dance break)


One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble

Can't be too careful with your company

I can feel the devil walking next to me.









In a world of changing values, shifting views

Where all we win - we win to lose

What a joy to be around events like this -

Constant, certain, calm, a world of ordered bliss.


(brief formal dance)


We are one big happy family, black and white

The game our one true guiding light

Sweeping through the darkest corners to express

Countries, classes, creeds as one in love of chess.


(Tournament area is revealed as observers and U.S./U.S.S.R. delegates assemble.  Also hotel staff, the Arbiter and his assistants.)



U.S. v U.S.S.R.



No one can deny these are encouraging times

These are optimistic and encouraging times


(Florence and Molokov approach each other warily.)



Miss Vassy -



Mr. Molokov -



(led by Walter and Molokov but Florence’s top position should be clear.  However she should not be involved in the more bitchy lines.  She and Molokov prepare their objections for the Arbiter)


It's the US versus USSR

Yet we more or less are -



No one can deny these are encouraging times



- To our credit putting all that aside

We have swallowed our pride



These are optimistic and encouraging times



It really doesn't matter who comes out on top



Who gets the chop



Though it could mean foreign travel has to stop



But we're gonna smash their bastard!

Make him wanna change his name

Take him to the cleaners and devastate him

Wipe him out humiliate him

We don't want the whole world saying

They can't even win a game

We have never reckoned

On coming second

There's no use in losing.




Delegates!  Mr. Molokov, Mr. de Courcey...and Miss Vassy.  As you can see, the arena has been prepared for the competition, exactly in accordance with the specifications laid down in the match contracts; we are now ready to consider last-minute pre-match applications, representations or objections.



The American delegation wishes to protest the size of the Soviet delegation which far exceeds the permitted number -



Our delegation consists of only three people; our tactician, myself, of course, and our champion.  His doctor, psychologist, PT expert, security agents and chef cannot be considered delegates!



Objection overruled. 



The Soviet delegation has reasons [sic] to believe that the American player's chair contains communications devices, and therefore objects to the constitution of that chair -



That's impossible!  Both chairs were made in

(she examines them)

Sweden - therefore, they are neutral chairs. 



Objection overruled.



The American delegation wishes to object to the fact that each player is only allowed one rest day per -



Oh!  So you will be needing plenty of rest, eh?  Heh-heh -

(the Soviet delegation joins in the laughter)



Objection overruled.



The Soviet delegation objects to the wearing of reflective dark glasses -



Objection overruled.


(Florence and her delegation whip our dark glasses in revenge for Molokov’s rest day jibe)


florence/molokov (together)

The American/Soviet delegation -



Objection overruled!  I do not feel we're making meaningful progress.  I'll entertain no further proposals or objections.  This is a great sporting occasion between representatives of two great nations.  Let us grace this event with the decorum it deserves -



Just one last point, Mr. Arbiter : -

(The Arbiter stares at Walter but says nothing)

I heartily concur with every sentiment of those stirring words, Mr. Arbiter.  But may I just make an application on behalf of the television and other companies making such a major financial contribution to this event, that your permission be given to a few commercial supporters of chess to set up a discreet display of wares in the arena -







Mr. de Courcey!  I see no reason why such an imaginative proposal should not be pursued.  Take this card, call the number after ten tomorrow.







(extremely quickly)




It's the red flag up against stars and stripes

But we're peace-loving types



No one can deny these are encouraging times



It's a sweet hail-fellow-well-met affair

For both eagle and bear.



These are optimistic and encouraging times.



To those who say that this is not a friendly clash



Don't be so rash!



I assure you comrades that is balderdash



What a load of whingeing peasants!

Thinking they can win - they can't!

What an exhibition of self-delusion

This one's a foregone conclusion

We don't want the whole world saying

They can't even win a game

We have never reckoned

On coming second

There's no use in losing



How good to feel that as this great event begins

It underpins

Our quest for peace, the bonds of common interest

Of East and West



As long as our man wins.



As long as our man -





The champions enter and shake hands warily before the Arbiter lays down the law with:)


The Arbiter's Song



I've a duty as the referee

At the start of the match

On behalf of all our sponsors

I must welcome you

Which I do - there's a catch.


I don't care if you're a champion

No one messes with me

I am ruthless in upholding

What I know is right

Black or white - as you'll see



I'm on the case             HE’S ON THE CASE

Can't be fooled             CAN’T BE FOOLED

Any objection               ANY OBJECTION

Is overruled                IS OVERRULED


                            Yes he's the Arbiter and he knows best

                            He's impartial

                            don't push him

                            he's unimpressed



You got your tricks?

Good for you!

But there's no gambit

I don't see through


arbiter                     delegates/observers

(spoken)                    he's the Arbiter

I know the score            he knows the score

From square one             From square one

I’ll be watching all - 64!  he'll be watching all - 64!


(Dance break)



(to players)

If you're thinking of the kind of thing

That we've seen in the past

Chanting gurus, walkie-talkies,

Walkouts, hypnotists,

Tempers, fists - not so fast


(then to Walter and Molokov)

This is not the start of World War Three

No political ploys

I think both your constitutions are terrific so

Now you know - be good boys



I'm on the case             HE’S ON THE CASE

Can't be fooled             CAN’T BE FOOLED

Any objection               ANY OBJECTION

Is overruled                IS OVERRULED


                            he's the Arbiter and he knows best

                            He's impartial

                            don't push him

                            he's unimpressed


You got your tricks?

Good for you!

But there's no gambit

I don't see through


arbiter                     delegates/observers

Oh I'm the Arbiter          he’s the arbiter

I know the score            He knows the score

From square one             from square one

I'll be watching all -      he’ll be watching all



- sixty-four!


(Freddie and Anatoly are now in position.  Fanfare.  The Arbiter stars the clock for play to begin.  The CHESS instrumental music begins and it appears that decorum and sanity are now the order of the day.  Freddie plays a confident opening sequence.  However, the focus shifts from the players as Walter ushers on a party of Merchandisers and sponsors’ logo-emblazoned banners unfurl from above)



Merchandisers' Song



Whether you are pro or anti

Or could not care less

We are here to tell you

We are here to sell you chess

Not a chance of you escaping from our wiles

We've locked the doors, we've blocked the aisles

We've a franchise worth exploiting

And we will - yes we will!

When it comes to merchandising

We could kill.


(We leave this high-kicking distraction briefly to rejoin the game of chess just as Anatoly resigns.  The Arbiter gives a match update.)



Mr. Trumper has won the first game.  Mr. Sergievsky will play white in the second game, starting tomorrow.



We've done all our market research

And our findings show

That this game of chess could be around

A month or so

Maybe it's a bit confusing

For a game

But Rubik's Cubes were much the same

In the end the whole world bought one

- Sight unseen

We will do the same with bishop

Rook and queen.



(This time Freddie is handing the Arbiter an envelope)

The second game is ajourned.  Play will resume with Mr. Trumper's sealed move tomorrow.



When you get up -

When you get up in the morning

Till you go to bed

You will find our friendly message

Rolling 'round your head. 

Clean your teeth with chequered toothpaste

Wear our vests

Our kings and queens on bouncing breasts

You could even buy a set

And learn to play

We don't mind we'll sell you something Anyway!


We'll sell you something anyway!


(At the conclusion of the Merchandisers song we return to the apparent calm of the match but notice that physical tension is building.  A Soviet delegate (the Chef) is presenting Amatoly a cup of yogurt and a napkin.  Freddie stares in incredulity.  As Anatoly begins to eat, Freddie’s patience fails)



Hold it!  Stop the clock!

(He bangs down the timer on top of the clock)


(Anatoly looks bewildered, holding his spoon a few inches from his mouth)



What is that?



What is what?







This is yogurt.  Would you like some?



We are entitled under the match rules to provide our player with refreshments -



(jumping to his feet)

You are not entitled to assist your player by delivering him messages -






(in Russian to Molokov)

What is he doing?

[phonetically: Shtoe on dzyeh-lai-yet]



I'm not stupid!  I've been watching.  Yesterday, 20th move, strawberry; 35th move, honey.  Today, 20th move, banana.  Each time just before he changes tack.  You're giving him signals!  Strawberry means do this, banana means do that - it's cheating!



This is absolutely insane!  You are deliberately attempting to sabotage this game because you are losing -



(to the Arbiter, who has been maintaining a calm objectivity)

Are you gonna do anything about this?



Mr. Trumper, you are dangerously close to being penalized -



C’mon you said you were on the case -

(awkward pause)

or are you in on this too?



Freddie -



You tell him, Florence!



(thumping table as Florence tries to calm Freddie)

I tell him!  Unless this ridiculous interruption is penalized -



(shouting them both down)

Mr. Arbiter!  Florence!  Take note that unless I receive a full and formal written apology from the Soviets for their player's unsportsmanlike behavior, and dishonest behavior, I shall be on the next plane out of this dump and will be taking legal action to have this match awarded to me by default! 


(he turns on several Press Photographers who have rushed in at the end of this outburst and chases them out, yelling:)


Beat it you jerk-off!



(in Russian to Molokov)

Keep calm!  Let me handle this!

[phonetically: Spakoina!  Ya sam raz-byeh-rooss]


(then in English to the Arbiter as the stage is cleared)

So what happens now?  You will of course disqualify him -



For God's sake!  This is a matter that can be resolved by rational discussion -



Rational discussion!


(The delegates and observers leave.  The chessboard is again indicated as the Quartet undertake their negotiations.  An almost ritual flirtation develops between Florence and Anatoly)


Quartet: Decorum & Tranquility



(to Arbiter)

We wish, no must, make our disgust

For this abuse perfectly clear

We're here for chess - are the US?

If so why foul the atmosphere?



I must protest - our delegation

Has a host of valid points to raise



It's not just black and white

If I may coin a phrase

As any neutral would attest



Though we concede

(She now sings to Anatoly)

The fact your masters bend the rules is maybe not your fault

If they withdraw their psychological assault

Then under protest he'll proceed.



If your man's so sweet

Then why his fighting talk?

If he says we cheat

Then why on earth did he go take a walk?



I am not surprised he wanted fresher air

Once he realized there was no hope

Of your guys playing fair.



How sad                      It's very sad to see

                             the ancient and

To see                       distinguished game

                             that used to be



A model of decorum and tranquility

Become like any other sport

A battleground for rival ideologies

To slug it out with glee




I would say with regard to

Him it is hard to


Ever growing suspicions

My opposition's

Not well.




I would have said

You'd understand the strain

   and pressure getting where he's got

Or that you'd simply call him highly-strung and not

Imply that he was off his head.




But how on earth

Can someone half as nice and civilized as you

Be part of such a self-destructive point of view

I hope he pays you what you're worth.




I call this tune

No one's immune to my power

Once in that hall.




In that case

I must ask you

Why you now

Preside over a brawl.



(to Anatoly)

I'm not getting rich

My only interest

Is in something which

Gives me the chance

Of working with the best.



(to Florence)

I can only say

I hope your dream comes true

Till that far off day

I hope you cope

With helping number two.



How sad                      It's very sad to see

                             the ancient and

To see                       distinguished game

                             that used to be



A model of decorum and tranquility

Become like any other sport

A battleground for rival ideologies

To slug it out with glee.


(Tempers by now are rising to a pitch)


FLORENCE            arbiter           anatoly            MOLOKOV

it is very sad to   It’s so sad to    sad                how sad

see                 see a game that   it is very sad to  to see

sad to see a        really should     see                a dis-

game that once      be                this disting-      tinguished

  used to                               guished and

be a model          like a model      old game that      game that

                      of de-

of calm and tran-     corum           used to, that      always

  quility           become            used to be tran-   used to be

sad when it be-     just like any       quility          like a


  comes like        sport a battle-   has become         model

  any                 ground for

other sport         rival ide-        battleground to    of de-

just                  ologies         slug it out          corum

  a battle-           to slug           with glee

ground, a battle-   slug it out       any other sport    and of

  ground, for ide-  slug it out       like a battle-       pure tran-


  ologies           it is very        sad to see           quility


It’s very sad       sad so sad        how                it is very

to see the          to see            sad                sad to seethe

ancient and dis-                                          old distin-

  tinguished        it’s a                                  guished

  game that                                                 game that

used to be a        battleground for  see a              used to be a

model of decorum    rival ide-        model of decorum   modelof tran-

and tranquil-         ologies         and tranquil-        quility

  ity be-                               ity be

  comes like any    it becomes        just like any      when it be-

  other             a                   other           

sport               battleground for  sport how sad      comes abattle

like a              ideologies          to see           ground thenit

battleground        a battle-         how the game       is ve-

  for rival           ground            that               ry

ideologies          it’s very sad     used to be         sad,it’s very


it’s very sad       to see a game     tranwuility        when this

                                                          ancient game


so sad to see       a battleground    a battleground     comes a




To slug it out with glee



This crisis is the fault of both parties.  If both players are not back at the board within 36 hours, the match will be cancelled and the title put into abeyance!


(disgruntled delegates depart)


TOURNAMENT SONG - reprise (Optional)


the two children

Don't you find it rather touching to behold

The game that came in from the cold

Seen for what it is, religion plus finesse

Countries, classes, creeds as one, in love of chess






Isn't it strange the complications

People create in situations

When there's no need for any kind of


But in the end they all see reason

I didn't want to put the squeeze on

But there are times when someone forceful

Has to say no

(to the Children)

They all think they’re part of some sophisticated international battle of wills and personality


I see nothing other than a simple board game...

(exit the Arbiter with Children)



Scene Five: The American Suite


(Freddie is calmly playing computer chess as Florence storms in.  Hotel maids discreetly tidy the room and the bed.)


Argument 2



You want to lose your only friend?

Well, keep it up you're doing fine

Why this humiliation?

Why treat me like a fool?

I've taken shit for months, for years

And I won't take it anymore!


(Florence dismissed the maids.  Freddie plays on regardless)


How many women would drive themselves crazy

By arguing over a game of chess?

Not very many but the way things are going

There'll soon be one less!



Don't believe you, sweetie pie -



Listen, Freddie, I too had ambitions. 

How did I get waylaid?

How can such a flower

a sensitive soul, a delicate child

Wind up as a nursemaid, respectably set

   for the glittering prizes?

Instead of which I landed you -



You'll get your prizes!

I'm ninety percent of the way to the top of the heap



Thanks - 10% - you got me cheap




No, no Florence.  I meant we are ninety percent of the way.



How many women - articulate women

With something to shout about - spend their time

Playing a game in which silence is golden

And speaking a crime?



Maybe if he moved his king...?



All of my struggles for qualification -

My nights with Goethe and Proust

Recklessly abandoned

For you!  who thinks Chekhov is king to G3

And Joyce my college roommate!

Then when I show you a move you can't fathom

I have to admit it feels great -


(She makes a move on Freddie’s board: the very move he’d been searching for)



Great news for chess fanciers

Hey, that's how he did it

Yeah, that's how that commie jerk plays!



Maybe I deserve a raise!



I'm only teasing Soviets

With gentle bonhomie

And you've a better reason to be anti-them than me



There's a time and there's a place



Well how about here and now?  Are you for me or for them?



There's a time and there's a place.



1956 - Budapest is rising

1968 - Prague and Mr. Dubcek

1968 - Some of us remember.


I'd have thought you'd support

Any attack on these people

On the people who ran

Mindlessly over your childhood

Appearances altered

But most of the names are the same



(agitated, but controlled)

1968 - history and blackmail

Try another line - that's all in the past now



They see chess as a war

Playing with pawns like your father.

If you walk out on me

You're really betraying his honor

Were he alive now

He'd surely be dying of shame



You know that there's nothing I've done

That he'd be ashamed of in my whole life!

Why'd you have to do this to me?


(Freddie walks out, slamming the door in her face)



Nobody's Side



What's going on around me

Is barely making sense

I need some explanations fast

I see my present partner

In the imperfect tense

And I don't see how we can last

I feel I need a change of cast

Maybe I'm on nobody's side

And when he gives me reasons

To justify each move

They're getting harder to believe

I know this can't continue

I've still a lot to prove

There must be more I could achieve

But I don't have the nerve to leave


(Various career women emerge from their hotel rooms)


florence & women

Everybody's playing the game

But nobody's rules are the same

Nobody's on nobody's side

Better learn to go it alone

Recognize you're out on your own

Nobody's on nobody's side



The one I should not think of

Keeps rolling through my mind

And I don't want to let that go

No lover's ever faithful

No contract truly signed

There's nothing certain left to know

And how the cracks begin to show!


florence & women

Never make a promise or plan

Take a little love where you can

Nobody's on nobody's side

Never stay too long in your bed

Never lose your heart, use your head

Nobody's on nobody's side


Never take a stranger's advice

Never let a friend fool you twice

Nobody's on nobody's side

Never be the first to believe

Never be the last to deceive

Nobody's on nobody's side


Never leave a moment too soon

Never waste a hot afternoon

Nobody's on nobody's side

Never stay a minute too long

Don't forget the best will go wrong

Nobody's on nobody's side


Better learn to go it alone

Recognize you're out on your own

Nobody's on nobody's side


Scene transition:





(Chess board set up as per American suite.  Anatoly attempting to relax.  Svetlana surrounded by duty-free shopping.  Molokov partaking of room service)



The man is utterly mad, Anatoly - you're playing a lunatic!



That's the problem.  He's a brilliant lunatic.  You can't tell which way he'll jump or why.  When he's playing chess or when he throws a fit - he's impossible to analyse; you can't dissect him, you can’t predict him - which of course means he's not a lunatic at all.



What we've just seen's a pathetic display

From a man who's beginning to crack

He's afraid - I've seen Americans do this before

We're on the right track!




Why do my seconds Always want to believe

Third-rate propaganda?



My friend - please relax; We're all on your side

You know how you need us



I don't need my army of so-called “advisors”

And helpers to tell me

The man who's revitalised chess single-handed

Is more or less out of his brain

When it's very clear he's sane



Listen, we don't underestimate Trumper

We won't get caught in that trap

After all, winning or losing reflects on us all -



Oh don't give me that crap!

I win - no one else does

And I take the rap if I lose



It's not quite that simple

The whole world's tuned in

We're on display

We're not merely sportsmen -



Oh please don't start spouting that old party line

Yes I know it's your job but

You better stop pulling such games pretty quick

Or you're saving this match and your skin

That is if you want to win!



I don't want to win.  Not if it does this to you - to us.



(almost shouting)

Does what to me - to us?



You can't see?



I'm sorry.  But it would be madness to let twenty years of work be destroyed at the final hurdle because of this megalomaniac's antics.



And five years marriage -



It will all be fine once this match is over.  I promise.



If we still have a marriage?



If we still have a match!



(to Molokov)

Well, make sure we do!  What the hell else do you have to do?


Silly question -



You're becoming as crazy as Trumper.  Anatoly, relax.  Do your job - I'll do mine.  Svetlana -


(Molokov and Svetlana leave)



Where I Want To Be



Who needs a dream?

Who needs ambition?

Who'd be the fool

In my position?

Once I had dreams

Now they're obsessions

Hopes become needs

Lovers possessions


Then they move in

Oh so discreetly

Slowly at first

Smiling too sweetly

I opened doors

They walked right through them

Called me their friend

I hardly knew them


Now I'm where I want to be and who I want to be

  and doing what I always said I would

  and yet I feel I haven't won at all

Running for my life and never looking back

  in case there's someone right behind

  to shoot me down and say he always knew I'd fall


When the crazy wheel slows down

Where will I be?  Back where I started

Don't get me wrong

I'm not complaining

Times have been good

Fast, entertaining

But what's the point?

If I'm concealing

Most of my thoughts

All of my feelings


Now I'm...

(Various well-attired male guests emerge from their hotel rooms)


anatoly & men

..where I want to be and who I want to be

  and doing what I always said I would

  and yet I feel I haven't won at all

Running for my life and never looking back

  in case there's someone right behind

  to shoot me down and say he always knew I'd fall



When the crazy wheel slows down

Where will I be? 

Back where I started.





(Cocktail Hour.  Arbiter at the piano, various nationalities assembled.  The Children play chess)


Cocktail Chorus



(Music: slow foxtrot arrangement of “One Night in Bangkok”)


Ask any conoisseurs of human nature

This is a melting pot you can't ignore

With no disturbance from the legislature

The players move as thousands have before

As was, is now, and shall be, evermore


This is a terrace of a thousand stories

Each one so typical of humankind

A bar where one in every three or four is

Yours for the asking if you're so inclined

One in a hundred could be quite a find


(Walter and Molokov emerge from the crowd)



So everybody's friends again, are we, Mr. Molokov?  Do we owe this to your charm or to your brutality?



Let us say that I am at least quietly confident of a little diplomatic triumph.  We must not count our chickens, however.  I have arranged with Miss Vassy for a private meeting between the two antagonists.  I think they will all see sense.  Not that Anatoly has ever done anything else.  But he is not going to give Trumper the satisfaction of rising to his bait.  We are civilised.



Well my television boys will be relieved.  They weren't looking forward to explaining to their sponsors that, unless they're in the yogurt business, their products were off the screen.



What exactly is your business here, Mr. de Coursey?



Really, Alexander!  I'm here to insure that the commercial benefits of this circus are maximized on behalf of various - er - clients.




Yes.  And I am the Pope.  Tell me about Florence Vassy.



You know all about Florence Vassy, your holiness.



I know that her father disappeared after that incident in Prague in 1968...






So I know she was smuggled out of Czechoslovakia when she was five, back when you and I knew exactly where we stood, eh, Mr. de Courcey?


I'm already nostalgic for the old cold war days.  This new “openness” is such a strain.



A rather cynical attitude, comrade.



It’s much easier to deal with opposite numbers when you know you can't trust them.



So that's all you know about Florence?  Fled Prague in '68?



Of course not.  I know she was brought up in England, and I know she met Trumper when she was at University in America.  But is she with him because she likes chess?  A woman liking chess that much?


Does she sleep with him?



(as Florence enters)

Why don't you ask her yourself?



How refreshing to see East and West in such harmony.  Where is Anatoly, Mr. Molokov?  I didn't agree to this meeting out of the goodness of my heart.



Well where's Freddie, Miss Vassy? 



Do I detect a less than promising start to your diplomatic triumph, Alexander?  Two no-shows?



Not at all, - er - Walter.


(Anatoly enters - Molokov seems aware of this without even looking at him.)


We may have to wait a while for the tardy Mr. Trumper, however.


(He notices Florence's locket)


Ah, this is very pretty.  Perhaps some of him is with us already.  A lock of his hair, perhaps?


(A concierge approaches Molokov and hands him a note.  He reads it.  Walter greeets Anatoly.)


Excuse me, I have to make a telephone call.


(Molokov exits.  Walter hands Anatoly an envelope.)



(to Anatoly)

Your interview details.  It's all there.




Yes, of course.



(to both Anatoly and Florence)

Well, will you excuse me?  I hope the discussions with Freddie go well.



(too late)

Just a moment....


(But she and Anatoly are now alone.  The cocktail crowd have moved upstage to admire the evening sky.  The Arbiter reprises the chorus, accompanying himself at the piano)





This is a terrace of a thousand stories

Each one so typical of humankind

A bar where one in every three or four is

There for the asking if you're so inclined

One in a hundred could be quite a find


(The Arbiter and pianist exit.  Anatoly is engrossed in Walter’s document.)



Terrace Duet



(to herself)

This is the one situation

I wanted most to avoid

Nothing I say will convince him this isn't a trick.



A drink on a clear moonlit night - I relax, she smiles

There's something peculiar going on.



So, through no fault of my own, I'm in it

   way over my head

Embarrassed, outnumbered, marooned.



Now she can't be working for them - I mean us -

She seems so very straightforward - but where is he?



He has to show up

it can't come to nothing -

perhaps it can.



Maybe he's scared

but he didn't seem scared in the game.



Oh, I just couldn't care less

He can go right ahead go and wreck his career

I know I've done my best.



Well at least she's a good-looking spy



What if my Russian friend thinks that my plans

Have nothing to do with the chess?

If I don't say something and soon

He'll go - maybe I'm on nobody's side!


(st last he approaches her and takes her hand for a dance)



Listen, I hate to break up the mood

How do you say, begin the beguine

Haven't you noticed we are one character short

In this idyllic, well-produced scene?



(dancing with Anatoly)

How could I not, Miss Vassy regrets

Anything goes with your opponent.



Never mind him - I haven't missed him so far

Maybe it won't do any harm

To struggle on without his charm.



(More seriously as Walter enters, unseen, and hovers US)

Funny how all at once I feel

Nothing about this meeting matters anymore


(The light-hearted dancing turns into a long passionate embrace)


cocktail chorus

This is a terrace of a thousand stories

Each one so typical of humankind

Theirs is no different, but they don't mind!


(The couple emerge from their embrace.  Florence almost in shock.  Anatoly obviously entranced.  During the following the Chorus disperse to their rooms or each others’.)



This is the one situation

I wanted most to avoid



My dear opponent -

I really can't imagine why



You think I'm the dangerous kind --

Well, I am!



You -- You're not dangerous --

Who could think that of you?



You -- you are so strange --

why can't you be what you ought to be?


florence & anatoly

You should be scheming, intriguing,

   too clever by half



I have to hand it to you --

For you've managed to make me

forget why I ever agreed to this farce


florence & anatoly

I don't know why I can't think of anything

I would rather do

Than be wasting my time with someone like you.


(As song ends, Molokov and Freddie enter.  Molokov is checking some papers but Freddie witnesses the extended kiss between Florence and Anatoly.  Leaving Molokov, he confronts the duo.)



no contest



Who'd ever think it?

Such a very pretty setting!

Tell me what's the betting

Very pretty plotting too?

No matter -

(indicating Molokov)

We've done all your work for you


(He approaches Florence)

Who'd ever guess it?

Daughter in collaboration

With the very nation

Gave her father third degree!

Where's Daddy?  Dead or in the KGB?


(Molokov reacts to Freddie’s final words.  Florence storms off.  Freddie descends on Anatoly, intercepted by Walter.  Molokov takes Anatoly aside)


Scene transition:





no contest



(to Freddie)

You take care, you don't let

Their shenanigans blind you

And you're wrong to forget

You've got your country behind you.



You're a fool if you think you can wave a flag

And inspire some dramatic action

If I want bad enough then it's in the bag

If I don't you're a mere distraction.


(Walter and Molokov exit.  The actions of Anatoly and Freddie are echoed in dance by the two warriors.  The scene transforms into the chess arena during the following)




(turning on Freddie)

You taught me freddie

how the few who win acquire

What their hearts desire

It's not practice, it's not skill

They'll help, but not as much as loving will.



(challenging Anatoly)

No contest, comrade

Pay no mind to reputation

You want concentration?

When they pick you off the floor

you’ll know I wanted it a little more



You can win you can lose

Take or be a possesion

You taught me how to choose

And the key is obsession



See my eyes, are they safe, are they even sane?

Are they warm when they seem to greet you?

You don't know, you can't tell, but it should be plain

These are eyes that are gonna beat you

Don't ever tell me

I don't know the way to play it

Do I have to say it?

Doesn't matter what you try

I have him, you can see it in the eyes



No contest, comrade

Barely any point in playing

When it's just delaying

What we both already know

You lost it a woman and a half ago...


(The tournament has re-assembled.  Delegates, observers et al take up their places.  Both men positioned as at the end of a game)


You lost it a woman and a half ago!


(Anatoly makes the final move, and is declared the winner by the Arbiter.)



Mr. Trumper has resigned.  Mr. Sergievsky has won the third game.  The scores are now level and  unless either party would like to exercise its right to a rest day the deciding game will commence tomorrow.



(going up to Anatoly)

Congratulations, Anatoly.  Please come right away for your interview.


(Anatoly kisses Svetlana’s hand with ominous finality.  Molokov begins to protest but eventually lets Anatoly go with Walter.  A dejected Freddie gets up from the table.  He approaches Florence.)



Florence Quits



So you got what you want

What a nasty ambition!

Set me up, pull me down

Then exploit my condition.

I should have guessed, woman

That if pressed, woman

You're on nobody's side but your own

And you're behaving

Like a mere woman

It's so clear, woman -

It's your sex!

Once they start getting old and getting worried

They let fly, take it out

On the one that supports them

it's you I'm talking about



Who'd ever guess it?

Such a squalid little ending

Watching you descending

Just as far as you can go

I'm learning things I didn't want to know



Who'd ever think it?

This would be the situation -

One more observation -

How'd we ever get this far

Before you showed me what you really are?



You'll be lost without me

To abuse like you're used to.



Go away!  Just get out!

Be someone else's parasite!


(Before Florence can respond again, the Arbiter makes an astonishing announcement.  During the last few moments of the Freddie/Florence argument we have been aware of great activity between the Arbiter and his assistants, culminating in his statement.)



(a paper in hand)

I've just been informed that the challenger, Anatoly Sergievsky, has applied for political assylum at the British embassy.  He wishes it to be known that this will not affect his participation in this contest.


Pandemonium - especially from:






He can't!



He has no travel restrictions, what more does he want?



He's crazy! 



And he's winning!



(continuing to read)

And he hopes that this difficult personal decision will not affect his play or that of his opponent. 

(‘Huh!’ from Freddie, as an Arbiter’s Assistant appears bearing flowers - Thai orchids)

These, apparently, are for you, Miss Vassy.



(to Molokov)

No, Alexander.  No!



A nice gesture -



A nice gesture!  He’s screwed me!


(Taking the flowers, Florence proceeds downstage, the focus of blame, interest and hostility)



Heaven Help My Heart



If it were love I would give that love

   every second I had

And I do

Did I know where he'd lead me to?

Did I plan Doing all of this for the love of a man?


Well I let it happen anyhow

And what I'm feeling now

Has no easy explanation, reason plays no part

Heaven help my heart

I love him too much

What if he saw my whole existence

Turning around a word, a smile, a touch?


One of these days, and it won't be long,

   he'll know more about me

Than he should

All my dreams will be understood

No surprise

Nothing more to learn from the look in my eyes


Don't you know that time is not my friend?

I'll fight it till the end

Hoping to keep that best of moments

When the passions start

Heaven help my heart

The day that I find

Suddenly I've run out of secrets

Suddenly I'm not always on his mind


Maybe it's best to love a stranger

Well that's what I've done - heaven help my...



heaven help my heart





Moves made on the spur of

the moment

Are the moves that set you free



Heaven help my heart


(Anatoly moves to Florence - they embrace)




One of these days and it won't be long

He'll know all about her -



Heaven help my heart



How to fight

how to hate

When the sadness wears me down



Heaven help my heart



(chorale IN HALF-TIME)

One night in Bangkok

And the world's in turmoil

Not much between despair and ecstasy

Not much between despair and ecstasy!


(Bangkok music blazes)






end of act one


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