Major Barzov is a military observer from Russia. In the meeting between Pi Ying and Kelly, Barzov claims he is in no position to interfere with Pi Ying's plans. Kelly is suspicious of this claim, though, because Pi Ying seems frightened of Barzov. Sitting next to Pi Ying during the game, Barzov seems bored and displeased. However, he does weigh in at important moments, whispering to Pi Ying just before Pi Ying explains the rules and before he decides to take the king's pawn—a tactically pointless move that, nonetheless, is a death sentence for Kelly's sergeant. He maintains a disdainful distance, but is clearly engaged in the game and exerting power in the room, making cruel jokes and possibly influencing Pi Ying's game. He apparently derives pleasure from seeing Americans in this situation.