Shakhmatnaya goryachka – Chess Fever

by ChessBase
12/19/2006 – In 1925 Chess Fever was made, a film describing the plight of a young man who becomes completely obsessed with the game – in a country where every male appears to be similarly afflicted. When the young man's fiancée can take it no more she meets the immortal Capablanca and is converted to chess. Now thanks to Google you can watch the whole movie.

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Shakhmatnaya goryachka – Chess Fever

Also known as "Chess Fever" and "La fièvre de échecs": With an international chess tournament in progress, a young man becomes completely obsessed with the game. His fiancée has no interest in it, and becomes frustrated and depressed by his neglect of her, but wherever she goes she finds that she cannot escape chess. On the brink of giving up, she meets the world champion, Capablanca himself, with interesting results. Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin and Nikolai Shpikovsky, written by Nikolai Shpikovsky, 1925


The setup is simple: a young man and his fiancé. He is besotted by chess and cannot think of anything else, even setting up a board in mid-proposal. But he is not alone; every male in the world is similarly captured. We have a cop who stops in midarrest to play with his captive. It goes on a bit too long, but the humor is unexpected in a part of the world between two huge wars and two equally destructive rules. But the message is good Soviet doctrine, since the woman comes around in the end and accepts this "fascinating game." In old movies, part of the fun is in how fashions have changed and in particular what attractive young girls look like. This is a stocky, rude girl with a faint beard and a beginning dowager's hump. But makeup, of course.

Petar Rokic of Monza, Italy, sent us the link with the words: "I have found on Google video a true gem! It is the wonderful old Russian film from 1925. Since I speak Russian, I have translated the Russian intertitles, for a better enjoyment of the film! I can’t find words to describe it, just watch and be completely amazed! You won’t believe your eyes who the actors are!"

Well, apart from the immortal José Raúl Capablanca we also believe we spotted Frank Marshall in the closing sequences. Our readers have identified Richard Réti, Rudolf Spielmann, Carlos Torre, Frederick Yates, Ernst Grünfeld and Rudolf Spielman.

The links to the film are given at the bottom of this page. Between the pictures you can see the texts that appear in the film, translated by Petar Rokic into English. What can we say – enjoy!

00.19 – Actors: World Champion J. R. Capablanca
00.23 – Hero: V. Fogel; Heroine: A. Zemtsova
00.42 – at the tournament
02.26 – in the days of the “chess fever”

04.39 – remember, my darling, the most dangerous thing for the family life is – chess!
05.00 – on the signboard is written “chessplayer – stop here”
05.51 – on the wall-advert is written “chess tournament”
09.38 – on the signboard is written “give something to the blind man”
10.01 – I loved only you
10.09 – And you love only chess
10.17 – between us all is finished!
10.30 – I will poison myself
10.35 – I surrender – I will drown myself
11.07 – Grandfather – my life is broken
11.20 – My child, take the source of consolation and peace
11.32 – The name of the book is “Pleasure of the sage – anthology of the most antique chess problems”
11.44 – Late wishes
12.13 – Kolecka has just played such a fine Queen’s Gambit! I can’t breathe!
12.26 – there is no place in life
13.12 – “Pharmacy”
13.29 – Give me something in big quantity and strong against pain
14.10 – Maybe – Love is stronger than chess?
15.15 – Maybe – Love is stronger than chess?
15.30 – Back to the fiancée
16.10 – Leave me alone! Because of chess I hate all the world!
16.19 – I understand this feeling. When I meet a beautiful woman, I also hate chess
16.36 – Finally I meet a chess enemy!
16.42 – Tell me how you saved yourself from chess fever
17.10 – On the wall is written “International chess tournament”
17.15 – I give a final look, and then … that’s all!
17.22 – At the tournament!
17.34 – pass! pass!

18.05 – Here are the effects of the Champion’s narrations

18.19 – Darling, darling! I didn’t know it is such a wonderful game!
18.34 – Darling, let’s play a Sicilian
18.54 – The family happiness begins!


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