|Michel Piccoli||Akiva Liebskind|
|Alexandre Arbatt||Pavius Fromm|
|Leslie Caron||Henia Liebskind|
|Liv Ullmann||Marina Fromm|
|Michel Aumont||Stepan Ivanovitch Kerossian|
Aging Soviet chess champion Akiva Liebskind arrives in Geneva to face off against his former student Pavius Fromm in a World Championship match. Pavius is a defector from the USSR, and the Soviet authorities threaten to harm Akiva's family if he does not defeat the rogue player. Determined to shame Pavius, the government brings the wife he left behind to the game, attempting to unnerve him as the stress of the match takes its toll on both men.