What is the Broadway Play "Chess" about?
"Chess" was originally staged in London, beginning in 1986and ran for several years. In 1988, a production was attempted on Broadway, but the adaptation for American theater proved a failure.
The plot of "Chess" centers on a complicated love story set against the backdrop of the Cold War-era politics permeating a high-profile chess match between the U.S. and Russian champions. The personalities and media hysteria surrounding the match were drawn directly from the famous Bobby Fischer versus Boris Spassky chess match of 1972. The love story involves an arrogant, emotionally immature American, his female manager, the Russian opponent, and the Russian's wife. As the four maneuver among themselves, with the relationship of the American female and the Russian chessmaster providing the main source of romance and tension, the vagaries of the U.S.-Soviet relationship complicate matters for all involved. Ultimately, the Russian returns to his wife, the American chessmaster retires from competitive chess and becomes a media analyst, and the American female is left alone in an emotionally devastated state.
[It should be noted that this educator saw the original London production in 1986 and drew from his own observations for this answer.]