Letterman vs Kasparov (Late Night 1989)

Apr 16, 2012, 8:25 PM |

Between October 20 and December 1, 1989 Dave Letterman and Garry Kasparov completed a 23 move game of telephone chess (Garry was in studio for the first move) .... a classic "Scandinavian Defense: Mieses-Kotroc Variation - B01" with Garry as white , Dave as Black ...... the following "transcript" has been collected through various archives, newspaper articles, videos, websites, blogs and chats and is not quite complete, probably not 100% accurate, ......but it is funny!

1. e4 ;  ........ (OCT 20 1989)

Oh no I'm screwed! 

1. .......; a5

So how am I doing so far?

Not good.

I did the same thing you did. you pushed a pawn I pushed a pawn.

(Dave takes a mulligan .....a5 back to a2)

1. .....; d5

Is that good?


2. exd5 ; Qxd5  (OCT 31 1989)

3. Nc3  ; Qe6+   (NOV 1 1989)

Three moves and I've already got him in check!

4. Be2  ; Nc6      (NOV 2 1989)

5. d4  ; Qg6        (NOV 3 1989)

You move your queen too much. I know its your favourite piece.

6. Nf3; Qxg2        (NOV 9 1989)

I'm up two to one.

You'll pay a high price for your two pawns.

7. Rg1;

Get away with your queen from my camp!

7. ......; Qh3

8. d5;Na5             (NOV 10 1989)

I feel the smell of victory!.

I have the same aroma here.

9 Nb5; Qd7            (NOV 14 1989)

10. Bf4;Nf6

I was bored of the second knight.

11. Nxc7+ ; Kd8     (NOV 15 1989)

12. Ne5 ; Qxc7         ( 11-16 -89)

I could take your rook but I prefer your queen.

I'm gonna take one of your horses. It's 3 to 2 now isn't it?

13. Nxf7+ ; Ke8      (11-17-89)

14. Bxc7 ; Kxf7         (11-21-89)

A normal man would cry when he loses his queen.

There just isn't enough televised chess.

15. Bxa5 ; Bf5    (11-22-89)

16. Qd4 ; Bxc2  (11-23-89) 

17. Rc1 ; Be4  (11-24-89)

 And now it's time ..... oh my god kids look.... its time for TV chess.

This is Garry Kasparov, I'm Dave, we're playing chess, and I'd like to dedicate this to all the ladies out there tonight .... here we go.


Hi Dave.

Can you hear me?

Yes I can.

You sound pretty good. Did you have a nice day playing chess?

Today I'm in a very good mood, I played another long session, 6 hours, but the chess position is almost winning for me.

Ah youre in the middle of a big tourn...

Yes yes

but I only drew and I was very dissapointed

I see but are you going to win the tournament?

No I think I told you that I already won but I am now fighting for the record.

I see youre going for the record well good luck to you.

Now, aah, make your move here Gary.

Ah my move, my move, Ok,  I will move my rook from the corner, the queen corner,  rook to bishop one.

right there? In front of my bishop.

Yes in front of your bishop, and uh possibly bishop will ....

Hah! Now get ready for some real chess magic...... I moved my bishop back a couple of white notches.


Yeh. I want you to think about that over the weekend.

Yeh but I think next week will be the last one.

Ho ho ho ..well we'll just see about that won't we?


All right ...Goodbye Gary

18. Rc7 ; Rd8   (11-28-89)

I'm invading your camp now.

I think I've got one of your pawns in check.

19. d6 ; b6 

20. Bc3; Bd5                (11-29-89)

21. Qe5 ; Be6               (11-30-89)

22. Qxf6+ ; gxf6

23. Bh5#.                (Dec.01, 89)

You're in good company, all of the grandmasters have been checkmated by me.