The beginning of the James Bond film From Russia with love (1963) portrays the end of a game between the fictional characters Kronsteen (Czechoslovakia) and Macadams (Canada) in the last and decisive round of the Venice International Grandmasters Championship. The moves go like this:

[White "Kronsteen"]
[Black "Macadams"]
[FEN "r3rnk1/ppp1qNp1/7p/4b3/5Q2/1B6/PP4PP/5RK1 w - - 0 1"]

1.Nxe5+ Kh7 2.Qe4+ 1-0 

Is this game based on a real game or famous problem?


2 Answers 2


This game is based on a 1960 game between Boris Spassky and David Bronstein, on the 16th round of the USSR Championship:

[FEN ""]
[Event "URS-ch27 Final"]
[Site "Leningrad"]
[Date "1960.02.20"]
[Round "16"]
[White "Spassky, Boris Vasilievich"]
[Black "Bronstein, David Ionovich"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C36"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "1960.01.26"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "19"]
[EventCountry "URS"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 d5 4. exd5 Bd6 5. Nc3 Ne7 6. d4 O-O 7. Bd3 Nd7 8. O-O
h6 9. Ne4 Nxd5 10. c4 Ne3 11. Bxe3 fxe3 12. c5 Be7 13. Bc2 Re8 14. Qd3 e2 15.
Nd6 Nf8 16. Nxf7 exf1=Q+ 17. Rxf1 Bf5 18. Qxf5 Qd7 19. Qf4 Bf6 20. N3e5 Qe7 21.
Bb3 Bxe5 22. Nxe5+ Kh7 23. Qe4+ 1-0

As you can see, the game on the film shows the same position as after black's move 21, but without the pawns on c5 and d4.

  • 5
    My guess is that they removed those 2 pawns for aesthetic reasons, as they'd partially obscure the queen from certain camera angles. It's unlikely they had a chess master on staff when they made the film, they just took a recent game and modified it, thinking (likely correctly) that most of the audience wouldn't notice or care - it only had to be convincing to a layman. (Also people didn't hyper-analyze films in those days to the degree they do now - especially since seeing it more than once required buying another ticket...) May 23, 2022 at 14:42

In addition to the other answer, that position was the subject of Tim Krabbé’s Open Chess Diary #250. He argues that the move played, 22...Kh7, is a blunder in the modified position.

[In the real game] 22...Kh7 was not a blunder; the other possibility 22...Ne6 is met by 23.Ng6 or Qe4 and the Ne6 soon falls. In Kronsteen - MacAdams however, for some reason, the White pawns d4 and c5 were missing, allowing Black a vital check on c5, which enables him to put up a tenacious and possibly successful defence with 22...Ne6.

However, he wrote this in 2004, presumably without checking with an engine. In 2022, I have the luxury of being able to run Stockfish depth 20 via lichess, and apparently 22...Ne6 is still +2.8 (winning for White) after 23.Ng6 (the only move that keeps an edge). Now:

  • 23...Qc5+ 24.Kh1. The threat is Bxe6 and Qf7+ (in either order) to win the knight. The only way to avoid it is 24...Kh7, which runs into 25.Qe4, with the simple threat of 26.Nf8 Kh8 27.Qh7# (crucially, Nf8 is a double check, so the black knight has no useful discovery)
  • 23...Qd6 24.Qe4 and Black cannot prevent the loss of the knight. Black can exchange the queens via 24...Rad8 25.Nf4 Qd4+ 26.Qxd4 Rxd4 but after 27.Nxe6! (27.Bxe6 might be a technically winning endgame, but Black has much more hope of holding) Black will lose another exchange. Stockfish gives 27...Rb4 28.Nxc7+ Rxb3 29.axb3 followed by ...Re2 or ...Re3 as Black’s best, but White is able to keep at least one pawn alive on the queenside, so the piece-up endgame is a fairly easy win.

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