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Endgame – World chess champion turned detective

Endgame – World chess champion turned detective

Apr 4, 2011, 12:14 AM 1

The posting of this new series was held a day or two so that people would not think it was an April Fool's joke.


Showcase, a Canadian TV channel, has started a new TV series called Endgame, scheduled for an initial run of thirteen weeks. The former World Chess Champion, Arkady Balagan, is the star and suddenly uses his "puzzle solving skills" to solve crimes.

Arkady Balagan, played by Shawn Doyle, finds himself confined to a hotel due to a debilitating case of agoraphobia. Unable to leave his hotel and running out of money, the arrogant and charismatic Russian inadvertently becomes a detective - using his fierce analytical skills to solve crimes - and relies on friends and hotel employees to do his legwork.

Each episode so far has highlighted his actual chess skills, albeit in unorthodox ways, such as the timeless simul, to online gambling (in chess), to clock blitz simuls for wads of bills, though inevitably, it comes down to how these skills translate into helping him solve crimes. The issue of agoraphobia is used as a bit of a gimmick to force Arkady to use the full extent of his visualization skills, since his mental block prevents him from leaving the luxury hotel where he stays and thus more direct participation.

He is aided by several others such as Sam Besht, a graduate student sporting a 2200 FIDE rating with an understandable admiration of the champion, Pippa Venturi, the sister of his recently murdered wife, to the hotel detective with whom he often finds himself at ends with, and a couple of others.

The filming and the reenactments are often the highlight of the storytelling, allowing creative scenes where he slowly tries each possibility and eliminates them, much as refuted moves in a variation, and others where he constructs elaborate scenes and actively interacts with his imaginings while he tries to figure things out.

One of the keys is the loss of his queen, his wife.  He has used all his funds to live in the hotel scared to face the real world.  Fascinating idea. To view a trailer, click here.

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