- "What is Bond compared to Kronsteen?"
- ― Kronsteen's last words.
Tov Kronsteen (Russian: Това Кронштейна) was a fictional chess master but also the director of planning of the shadow criminal organization SPECTRE who uses his immense intellect to create many of the organization's schemes. The character was one of the two mains antagonists (alongside Rosa Klebb) in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love. Portrayed by the late Polish actor Vladek Sheybal, he is based on the character of the same name from the 1957 novel From Russia, with Love.
When he is first seen in the film, Kronsteen, in Venice, is participating in a chess tournament against a Canadian grandmaster named MacAdams. During the tournament he receives a message from SPECTRE, hidden in the coaster of a glass of water served to him, which is typed "You are required at once". He then proceeds to make one more move, which makes MacAdams admit he has been checkmated. Kronsteen seems oblivious to the fanfare that arises from his winning the tournament, abruptly walking out and ignoring reporters and girls, although he graciously shakes hands with MacAdams for a worthy game.
He then appears on a SPECTRE yacht where he meets with his superiors, Blofeld (#1) and Rosa Klebb (#3). Klebb says they know all about him, and he is chastised for concluding the chess match instead of running off immediately after receiving the message. Kronsteen then tells Blofeld that, as he was tasked, he created a plan to steal the Lektor from the Russians. He states that in order for his plan to work, they need a female member of the Russian Cryptograph Section in Turkey and the help of the British Secret Service. Klebb is ordered to select the woman in order to make the plan work. When Blofeld observes that MI6 will recognise that the plan is a trap, Kronsteen assures Blofeld that this will just make them more determined to acquire the Lektor. After assuring Blofeld that he has anticipated every possible outcome, Kronsteen tells Blofeld that his plan also ensures revenge for the death of SPECTRE operative Julius No, because the agent used by the Secret Service to get the Lektor will be the same one who killed Dr. No, James Bond. Blofeld instructs Kronsteen to ensure that Bond's death will be particularly unpleasant and humiliating.
After the failure of the mission, Blofeld calls both Klebb and Kronsteen before him, asking them what they have to say in their defense. Kronsteen blames Klebb for choosing the wrong people for the job whereas Klebb says that Kronsteen's plan was the reason for the failure; Kronsteen denies that his plan could be anything but flawless, as it was his own genius. After hearing both, Blofeld silences them and summons Morzeny into the room while berating Klebb for the failure, apparently taking Kronsteen's side. Morzeny deploys a blade tipped with poison from his shoe, but most surprisingly stabs Kronsteen with it instead of Klebb as they had been led to believe. Kronsteen has little time to register his shock, as the poison immediately takes effect, managing only a look of disbelief towards Blofeld before he slumps to the floor. After Kronsteen has died, Blofeld remarks that his demise lasted 12 seconds and that one day they have to create a faster working venom.
Kronsteen was well-dressed and had a cold and egotistical manner, and thought he was unbeatable because of his brilliant intelligence as a chess player and strategist. He had a chilling and humourless personality; his soft spoken voice was that of a calm and experienced intellect.
Behind the scenes