Chess (musical)

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Chess is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, formerly of ABBA. The story involves a romantic triangle between two players in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters’ personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer.

Merano[edit]

  • We'll give you a welcome that's typically Tirol,
    For then we are sure of our ground.
    Right now we're Italian — we used to be German.
    The border keeps shifting around.
    • Citizens of Merano
  • Has the mob's sporting taste
    Altered overnight?
    Have they found new sophistication?

    Not yet! They just want to see
    If the nice guy beats the bum.
    If it's East-West
    And the money's sky-high,
    They all come.

    • The American

Where I Want to Be[edit]

  • Once I had dreams,
    Now they're obsessions.
    Hopes became needs,
    Lovers possessions.
    • The Russian
  • Now I'm where I want to be and who I want to be
    And doing what I always said I would
    And yet I feel I haven't won at all
    Running for my life and never looking back
    In case there's someone right behind to shoot me down
    And say he always knew I'd fall.
    • The Russian

The Opening Ceremony[edit]

  • Arbiter: I'm on the case, can't be fooled
    Any objection is overruled.
    Don't try to tempt me — you've no hope.
    I don't like women, I don't take dope.
    I'm the Arbiter. I know the score.
    Chorus: From square one he'll be watching all 64.

A Model of Decorum and Tranquillity[edit]

Molokov: Florence:
It's very sad How sad
To see the ancient and To see
Distinguished game What used
That used to be To be
Molokov and Florence:
A model of decorum and tranquility
Become like any other sport
A battleground for rival ideologies
To slug it out with glee

Nobody's Side[edit]

  • Everybody's playing the game
    But nobody's rules are the same
    Nobody's on nobody's side.
    • Florence
  • Never make a promise or plan
    Take a little love where you can
    Nobody's on nobody's side.
    • Florence
  • Never be the first to believe
    Never be the last to deceive
    Nobody's on nobody's side.
    • Florence

Mountain Duet[edit]

  • I don't know why I can't think of anything
    I would rather do
    Than be wasting my time
    On mountains with you.
    • Florence and The Russian

Florence Quits[edit]

  • Who'd ever think it?
    Such a squalid little ending
    Watching you descending
    Just as far as you can go
    I'm learning things I didn't want to know
    Who'd ever guess it?
    This would be the situation —
    One more observation —
    How'd we ever get this far
    Before you showed me what you really are?
    • Florence and The American

Anthem[edit]

  • Long before nations' lines were drawn
    When no flags flew when no armies stood
    My land was born.
    • The Russian
  • How can I leave her?
    Where would I start?
    Let man's petty nations tear themselves apart
    My land's only borders lie
    Around my heart.
    • The Russian

One Night in Bangkok[edit]

  • One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
    The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free.
    You'll find a god in every golden cloister
    And if you're lucky then the god's a she
    I can feel an angel sliding up to me.
    • Company
  • I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.
    • The American
  • One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
    Not much between despair and ecstasy
    One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
    Can't be too careful with your company
    I can feel the devil walking next to me.
    • Company

I Know Him so Well[edit]

  • Florence: But in the end he needs a little bit more than me —
    More security
    Svetlana: He needs his fantasy and freedom
    Florence: I know him so well
    Svetlana: It took time to understand him
    Florence and Svetlana: I know him so well.

Pity the Child[edit]

  • Pity the child who knew his parents
    Saw their faults
    Saw their love die before his eyes
    Pity the child that wise
    He never asked did I cause your distress?
    Just in case they said yes.
    • The American
  • Pity instead the careless mother
    What she missed
    What she lost when she let me go
    And I wonder does she know
    I wouldn't call — a crazy thing to do
    Just in case she said "Who?"
    • The American

Endgame[edit]

  • Anyone can be
    A husband, lover
    Sooner them than me
    When they discover
    Their domestic bliss is
    Shelter for their failing.
    • The Russian
  • Is there no one in my life
    Who does not claim
    The right to steal
    My work, my name
    My success, my fame
    And my freedom?
    • The Russian

Epilogue: You and I[edit]

  • You and I
    We've seen it all
    Chasing our hearts' desire
    But we go on pretending
    Stories like ours
    Have happy endings.
    • The Russian and Florence