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->''"To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well."''
-->-- '''Salvor Hardin''', ''Literature/{{Foundation}}''

Some characters have an amazing gift not only for making ThePlan but for revising it whenever new circumstances arise. Even a GambitPileup does not prevent this character working around it to success.

While the plots can be--or [[ASimplePlan become]]--as complex as anything TheChessmaster (or the ManipulativeBastard) lays out, they tend to function differently. The plotting character tends to be more TheTrickster. We usually follow, if not the plotter themself, then [[SupportingProtagonist characters near them]], so we can witness their continual and brilliant improvisations. The plotter is more likely to be a hero than a villain because the plot is always teetering at the edge of failure, making its success more [[RuleOfDrama dramatic]]. If it used by both side, the drama is squared.

Xanatos Speed Chess players build in the need for such flexibility in advance because of the old adage that "no plan survives contact with the enemy." Indeed, many players start with a plan as simple as possible because that introduces as few things as possible to go wrong. Closely related to the IndyPloy, which has simpler goals like "escape" or sometimes "hope for the best," but in this case, the plan is still in operation, just modified to fit new situations. The distinction here is that Xanatos Speed Chess involves changing an existing plan quickly, while an IndyPloy started with ''no'' plan whatsoever.

A much more dangerous form of it is to alter the plan to take advantage of unexpected windfalls. This usually introduces [[FlawExploitation exploitable flaws]], and if it does not lead to disaster, it can come very close.

Compare XanatosGambit, which involves a predetermined plan--but one so well-made that there can be no failure, only degrees of success.

Contrast the GambitRoulette, where the planner incorporates events that they would have no way of foreseeing into his plans--they rely on chance as much as on brilliance. Contrast the ClockKing, a consummate planner who is rarely good at this. If prophecy, time travel, or [[PsychicPowers being able to see the future]] is involved, may escalate to ScryVsScry. Compare UnintentionalBackupPlan--where something completely unexpected occurs to help the plan--though it can still be adapted into this.

Not all people who attempt Xanatos Speed Chess can [[OutGambitted pull it off]]. This is why being good at Xanatos Speed Chess is one of the defining marks of the MagnificentBastard.

!! Examples:

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
%% * Attempted and failed by Zao in Manga/SandLand.
* Earl Touka Bergatt of ''Manga/AkagamiNoShirayukihime'' quickly keeps adapting his original plan as things go wrong, he even predicted most of his setbacks such as his brothers [[spoiler:turning on him]]. [[spoiler:The real reason things didn't work out in the end was that]] he didn't have any knowledge of [[SpannerInTheWorks Obi]] who had spent the better part of two years far from Zen in the north and whose very subdued and quiet knighting meant that almost no one knew he was Zen's knight, Touka never even became aware of Obi's interference.
* It is difficult to know how much of Manga/{{Akagi}}'s playing is this and how much he actually plans out. In any case, he's a MagnificentBastard.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Aizen and Urahara have been opposing each other for a century. As they're both chessmasters, their entire battle has consisted of elaborately designed plans and constant revision of those plans as first one then the other gains the upper hand. From Aizen framing Urahara for catching him red-handed, to Urahara using his exile to set up an elaborate protection of the Hougyoku. From Aizen losing the element of surprise so preparing for war in one month instead of four, to Urahara anticipating exactly that and setting up a series of secret kidou traps to ensure Aizen is depowered by Ichigo in the end... most of the characters freely admit they can't keep up and eventually even Aizen is forced to admit he can't keep up with Urahara's intelligence.
* In ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'', Aleister Crowley constantly uses this so that whenever something unexpected happens, he weaves it in to complete his plans even faster. But even Crowley cannot keep up with everything: [[spoiler:Shiage Hamazura defeating Mugino caused a domino reaction that ''completely'' threw his plans all out of whack, and he's now desperately attempting to get everything back under his control.]]
* Lelouch Lamperouge from ''Anime/CodeGeass'' does this out of necessity, because the writers love screwing all of his plans by unexpected events that no sane person would ever consider. He turned the tables when pitted against the [[TheEmpire Britannian]] military and [[spoiler:their Chinese allies]] right after losing [[spoiler:his best fighter]] and a large part of his army. Lampshaded with the fact that he [[TheChessmaster can play real chess]] ''very well''.
* ''Manga/DeathNote:''
** Light Yagami, when things first started to get out of hand, but it didn't last. Misa forced more Speed Chess on him than anyone else; sometimes by being smarter than he expected but usually by being impulsive. Before long Light could flawlessly predict even her actions.
** L was also good at Speed Chess, but not as good as Light. A major unexpected twist once left L at a loss for weeks, although this was simply due to not knowing [[LaserGuidedAmnesia all the details of Kira's power]].
** Near and Mello are also masters of this trope because they were raised in the same way and for the same purpose as L. The entire series can be summed up as Xanatos Speed Chess [[ThisIsYourPremiseOnDrugs on crack]].
** The supplementary "How to Read" volume includes a list describing every trick used by anyone and rating them by level.
* ''Manga/DesertPunk'' the main charachter modus operandi is trickery and traps, as seen in the hostage rescue episode he forms a complex number of backup plans, flips between them on the fly and always ends up with his opponent caught in one of his traps even if not in the way originally planned. Beaten at his own game when after turning to the dark and on the cusp of victory his apprentice maneouvers him into her own pre-planned trap.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'':
** The show has a fair amount of it, especially whenever Conan's directly up against the [[TheSyndicate Black Ops]] and needs to not get killed.
** It's not just Conan who pulls this off. The other [[AmateurSleuth high-school detectives]] do this regularly.
** And, of course, the absolute winner of this trope is Kaitou Kid (originally from ''Manga/MagicKaito''),- who is constantly changing his heist plans (which are, more often than not, successful).
* Yukio Oikawa, the [[spoiler: apparent]] BigBad of ''Anime/DigimonAdventure02'', does this as well in regards to his goal of accessing the Digital World. First, he instigates Ken into becoming the Digimon Emperor in order to plant Dark Towers to weaken the borders between worlds. When Ken undergoes a HeelFaceTurn, Oikawa has Arukenimon and Mummymon try and destroy the Destiny Stones to do that. When ''that'' fails, he decides to create a portal from Earth by implanting kids with Dark Spores copied from the one inside Ken, then harnessing their power once they've peaked. [[spoiler:Due to [=BlackWarGreymon=] sealing the door to the Digital World, he ends up going to an entirely different world where emotions become power…which still helps Myotismon come back to life!]]
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ''
** In a series largely defined by the physical strength of its heroes and villains, Cell stands out. He is the first (and last) seasonal BigBad who is ''not'' introduced as already having an overwhelming power advantage over everyone else, with the Kami-powered Piccolo fighting him to a draw in their first meeting (and Piccolo probably would have won if Cell hadn't had the tactical sense to retreat). He travels from city to city, patiently absorbing {{Muggles}} until he has a power surpassing that of Piccolo and the androids and only ''then'' does he challenge them. Later, when his plans are disrupted by the arrival of Vegeta and Trunks, his initial reaction is to [[VillainousBreakdown throw a tantrum]], but after getting that out of his system he quickly demonstrates his Speed Chess skills by breaking out the only advantage he has left -- [[BatmanGambit Vegeta's ego]]. Ultimately his is one of the closest NearVillainVictory examples in the entire series, and the ''only'' reason he is ultimately defeated is because of his own success, as after becoming perfect he no longer has a purpose other than battle, and so foolishly goads Gohan until the young Saiyan [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor unleashes his true power]]...
** Super Buu is also very good at doing this, despite being a [[TheBrute mere thug]] in personality. He noticed Gohan's growing power, so he fought against Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks and tested the limits of his strength and his weaknesses (e.g. fusion limit). After briefly fighting Gohan and finding himself overwhelmed, he goes through an intentional SuperPowerMeltdown, knowing he will regenerate and buys time (and getting Goten and Trunks to recuperate, to fuse again). When he returns he goads Goten and Trunks into fusing again at full power and absorbs Gotenks and Piccolo into his being, deciding 30 minutes is more than enough to handle Gohan (he was right). Goku arrives and the fusion breaks down. Goku says Gohan alone is strong enough to defeat Buu, but then Buu reveals that he planned for this eventuality as well, and had a piece of himself ready to absorb Gohan the whole time, who he goaded into standing still until it was too late. Interestingly, the only character this didn't work on is Vegito, who was [[StoryBreakerPower too strong]], [[SpannerInTheWorks too]] [[CrazyAwesome wily]], [[BatmanGambit and had plans of his own]], as he later found out...
* ''Manga/FairyTail'': Brain in his plan to obtain Nirvana. [[spoiler:He originally intended to get it by himself, but when he realized that Wendy was with the group sent to stop him, he used her to make his plan move faster, having her heal Jellal, who would in turn fetch Nirvana for him. When Jellal attacked him, instead of going ThisCannotBe he ordered Cobra to follow him. His assumption was right, as Jellal restarted Nirvana... With the intent of destroying it. But, instead of breaking down or trying to force Jellal to obey him by any meaning, Brain simply deactivated the self-destruction spell Jellal cast on Nirvana, succeeding in his plan at last]].
* This is Miho Nishizumi's main strength in ''Anime/GirlsUndPanzer''. While all of the tank commanders are decently good strategists, Miho has a knack for split-second opportunistic decisions and coming up with unexpected plans on the fly that take her enemies by surprise.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** In ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'', EnigmaticMinion and eventual BigBad Paptimus Scirocco is the undisputed master of this. He's got his own designs on power pretty much from day one, but for most of the series he's content to sit back and let his enemies destroy themselves, telling characters he's "only a witness to history". That facade goes out the window the moment he [[spoiler:knocks off Jamitov, and by the end of the series he's gone from a minor official from Jupiter to the unquestioned leader of the Titans.]]
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'': This trope is played with in the character of [[spoiler:Ribbons Almark]], an {{Expy}} of the above-Scirocco who is also introduced as a stock EnigmaticMinion before [[spoiler:usurping the BigBad role from a DiscOneFinalBoss, Alejandro Corner in his case]]. All indications up to this point are that [[spoiler:Ribbons]] is a true player of this trope in the vein of Scirocco, but in the second season it is revealed that he is actually [[spoiler:getting all his mileage from the Veda supercomputer]], which according to the World Report Book operates roughly in this manner, allowing for deviations to the original plan that are caused by [[DidntSeeThatComing unknown factors]], if it manages to be in line with the same end result. Since [[spoiler:Veda is some sort of quantum supercomputer Speed Chess is pretty much its normal speed, but in any case, the actual Speed Chess playing is done by Veda, ''not'' Ribbons, and after the main characters eventually adapt to this Ribbons quickly becomes the Xanatos example of VillainForgotToLevelGrind.]]
* ''Franchise/JojosBizarreAdventure'':
** In the final battle of ''[[Manga/JojosBizarreAdventureBattleTendency Battle Tendency]]'', Joseph Jostar defeats Kars by defending himself from an attack with the Stone of Aja, which he wasn't even aware he had, and having the resulting explosion jam debris into Kars's arm and launch him into space. Joseph even admits that he didn't plan for that to happen.
*** There's also his battle with Esidisi, involving the two continuously trying to out-fox and out-trap each other with an unraveled, [[KiAttacks hamon-empowered]] [[ImprobableWeaponUser yarn cap]] and [[BodyHorror prehensile blood vessels]] filled with [[BloodyMurder boiling-hot blood]], respectively.
** ''[[Manga/JojosBizarreAdventureDiamondIsUnbreakable Diamond is Unbreakable]]'': While claiming to be the luckiest man alive, Yoshikage Kira's continued survival and anonymity owe more to using every little advantage that presents itself to its absolute maximum, generally through using his powers to construct a series of ingenious traps, tailored to his opponents and situations.
* ''Anime/{{Monster}}'': Being a MagnificentBastard, Johan Liebert can change his plans on a whim. Because of this, his plans almost always work out...[[spoiler:[[SpannerInTheWorks until the end.]]]]
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** Tobi [[spoiler:aka Obito Uchiha]] showed very good skills in this. While at first sight it would look like he planned everything that has happened in the series, he is in fact very accomplished in cutting his losses and creating new plans out of his ass as the situation demands. Hell, around 5% of the things happening during Fourth Shinobi World War were in his initial plans and he is still at the top of the game. [[spoiler: He was fairly miffed about Kabuto bringing the real Madara Uchiha onto the battlefield, as it forced him to drop his DeadPersonImpersonation gambit, and even more miffed when Itachi ended Edo Tensei and it meant that Madara freed from control Edo Tensei and will soon be here. But he had back-up plans for that anyway.]]
** [[spoiler: His mentor, Madara Uchiha, plays the same game (though he is still greater OpportunisticBastard than this). When they reunited after two decades, they subtly maneuvered against one another until it was time to seal the Ten-Tails, at which point both began openly moving against the other to come out on top.]]
** In ''Anime/TheLastNarutoTheMovie'', Hinata's original plan in [[spoiler:destroying the Tenseigan Core orb was to wait for Toneri to drop his guard while she covertly went to where the orb was held in order to destroy it. It hit a snag when she gets caught and ends up {{hypnotize|ThePrincess}}d. She later gets freed by Naruto and she takes advantage of Toneri going through a seizure to resume her original plan and does so, but her attacks alone are not enough to destroy the orb. She then accepts Naruto's assistance, and they both perform a CombinationAttack which manages to destroy the orb, fulfilling her objective]].
** In a {{filler}} episode, Shikamaru plays this straight against the VillainOfTheWeek. Even though he already had most of his plans laid out beforehand, the reason why it goes here is because there was a particular hitch in the plan but he manages to pull it off by making a small gamble.
* Toua Tokuchi is the AntiHero / MagnificentBastard / {{Chessmaster}} protagonist of ''Manga/OneOuts'' who plays Xanatos Speed Chess just as successfully as he does GambitRoulette.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** Marshall D. Teach, also known as "Blackbeard", appears to have a fully-formed plan in mind with which to reach the top of the pirate world. Despite a reckless streak, he has shown himself to be highly adept at taking advantage of unexpected opportunities to progress this plan and acting quickly when something appears to threaten it.
** Donquixote Doflamingo as well. While well-established early on that he is a man who tries to remain several steps ahead of his foes, Doflamingo's ability to tweak plans and make new ones on the fly is best evidenced when he managed to sneak out of Trafalgar Law's ultimatum. When Luffy and Law arrive in Doflamingo's homeland of Dressrosa simultaneously, Doflamingo continues to compensate for unexpected setbacks, such as [[spoiler:the presence of a Marine admiral on the island, Sabo taking Luffy's place in the Colosseum, a full-scale invasion by the Tontattas, and the liberation of the Toys]], using psychological judo to sway people to his side or render certain crucial tasks impossible. This includes taking the hatred the entire populace soon has of Doflamingo and redirecting it towards all of Doflamingo's enemies.
* Why Hanbe from ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara'' is considered a genius: he has a plan for '''every''' possible outcome. Demonstrated when he brings out a series of maps of the country, and they all depict different potential strategies by other characters, including ones based on the assumption that their allies might betray them (which they do).
* Keima Katsuragi from ''Manga/TheWorldGodOnlyKnows'' has a knack for this, frequently adapting his plans in response to events, no matter how unexpected.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* [[HeelFaceTurn Reformed]] ''ComicBook/TheFlash'' villain Trickster, being blackmailed by another villain to steal a relic from a museum, sets up an elaborate plot to convince that villain to leave him alone. When Impulse confronts him with the fact that a museum employee is being unjustly blamed for the theft, Trickster adapts the plan to ensure that the employee appears a hero, saving his job by getting him to catch the crooks, even though the relic is lost. (Trickster takes the opportunity to return it to the church he had stolen it from.)
** The Trickster is so good at this that during the ''Underworld Unleashed'' CrisisCrossover he successfully out-gambits BigBad Neron, who is heavily implied to be ''the actual devil'' (later stories would {{Retcon}} him into 'just' a ''really'' high-ranking demon).
* In ''Comicbook/{{Justice}}'', a character explicitly thinks that the difference between the heroes' plan and Brainiac's is that the heroes are expecting things to go wrong.
* The JusticeLeague villain Prometheus is perhaps the premier patron for this trope as far as villains from that corner of the DC universe go. As something of an EvilCounterpart to Franchise/{{Batman}}, this is to be expected.
* Marvel's ComicBook/{{Loki}} and his spiritual twin ComicBook/DoctorDoom are both masters of this trope and employ it regularly. Loki uses it more due to his preference for indirect manipulation and lies, while Doom uses it partly as a necessity for matching the ([[ReedRichardsIsUseless supposed]]) genius Reed Richards, and partly because of his continual dalliances with TheDarkArts.
* ''Comicbook/{{Sleeper}}'' (along with its prequel ''Point Blank'') by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is pretty much built out of this trope, with Tao and Lynch using ever more convoluted plans to entrap each other and manipulate DoubleAgent Holden (who has plans of his own).

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'' fic ''Fanfic/QueenOfAllOni'', when Jade's BatmanGambit to [[spoiler: get a mask on Jackie and get him to use it goes wrong when the Sumo-khan mask ends up on Captain Black]] like in canon, she quickly modifies the plot and manages to lure him away, and get him to [[spoiler: use the mask by throwing him off a building, and the plan goes ahead]].
* Precia is a master of this in ''Fanfic/GameTheoryFanFic''. Although her carefully laid plans are severely disrupted by Nanoha's presence and the dimensional quake that attracted the attention of the TSAB, she manages to adjust smoothly, and acquires everything she needs to reach Alhazred. [[spoiler:And it turns out that she had actually come up with an entirely different plan by incorporating the new elements, to revive Alicia and fake her own death, which she implemented successfully [[UnspokenPlanGuarantee without telling anyone]].]]
* ''Fanfic/ChildrenOfTime'': [[Literature/SherlockHolmes Professor Moriarty]] is TheChessmaster in the season 1 finale and changes his plans according to every shift in circumstances to meet his goals, but [[WesternAnimation/SherlockHolmesInTheTwentySecondCentury Beth Lestrade]] is the player with the most moves throughout the three episodes. [[TheHero She]] gambits with Holmes, the entire [[Series/DoctorWho Time/Space Continuum]], and Moriarty and Moran, moving from half-formed plans to well-plotted schemes to going in blind. When something goes wrong, she might blank out for a few minutes but she will adjust accordingly. Better still, [[spoiler:her gambits win more than anyone else's...]]
* ''[[FanFic/JusticeLeagueOfEquestria Mare of Steel]]'': ComicBook/{{Brainiac}} is constantly updating and modifying his plan against Rainbow Dash/[[Franchise/{{Superman}} Supermare]]; for example, when he deems [[GeneralRipper Steel Wing]] more trouble than he's worth and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness leads the authorities to him]], choosing to ally with [[ComicBook/LexLuthor Silversmith]] instead.
* In ''Fanfic/WhatAboutWitchQueen'', this is what Hans is doing ever since he escapes from Koenigsberg castle. When he [[spoiler:meets Anna again]], it takes him one conversation to reshape the current situation so that he'd end up better off than he was before and he outright admits that he doesn't have any plan and just makes it all up as he goes. His brother Michael is similarly gifted, although on smaller scale.
* In ''Fanfic/FeverDreams'' Light Yagami has to scheme fast in order to save L, Misa, and himself from [[TheAtoner his old plan]] and [[GambitPileup plan around whatever countermeasures]] L is planning to try and trap him. Fortunately he has [[HypercompetentSidekick Rem as his accomplice.]]
* ''Fanfic/TheDarkLordsOfNerima'': Tanizaki Kazuo is established as being an accomplished [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]], but he's not above playing an unexpected card, and is able to think fast to turn sudden events to his advantage. He is still OutGambitted because he decided kidnapping a precognitive seer friendly to his ultimate targets. And his opponent did it while in captivity.
* In ''Fanfic/TheUniverseDoesntCheat'', Lieutenant Commander Kanril Eleya responds to the KobayashiMaru computer trying to blunt one tactic by switching to another one. Computer tries to jam her transmissions so she can't negotiate with the Klingons? She switches to plain old radio. Klingons brush off her attempt to negotiate? She uses a preprogrammed macro to fire the phasers disrupt the ''Maru''[='s=] shields and beam the crew off, while simultaneously going to warp [[RammingAlwaysWorks straight through an enemy battlecruiser]]. Klingons come about impossibly fast? She pulls a Crazy Ivan. It gets to the point where the computer apparently says "screw it" and quite blatantly spawns a battleship directly in her path to take her down.
* ''Fanfic/SoulEaterTroubledSouls'': [[spoiler: Medusa]] is an excellent chessmaster, sticking to a nigh-foolproof plan that she revises slightly as others make their moves or progress. Tsuji and Marcellus try to exploit a loophole in her first game, she simply takes away his aim. The group use teamwork to easily get through the maze, so she does the unthinkable to make them fail. Shaula fails to hold her end of the bargain, but it has absolutely no effect on her own designs; Shaula destroying the Academy would simply make it so she wouldn’t have to do it later. Finally, the group splits, the best one coming after her, so she sneaks Free past them and then does her hardest to keep a fighter from going back to protect the weakened people from Free’s wrath.
* ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'': Usage of this trope, along with total mastery of the BatmanGambit and spectacular manipulation of the ButterflyEffect and ForWantOfANail, cement Strange as ''the'' MagnificentBastard in a [[GambitPileUp world with quite a few of them]].

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Initially, the plan of the Dazzlings in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsRainbowRocks'' is simply to show up at Canterlot High School to find the source of the magic they saw. They continuously adapt to their surroundings by brainwashing the principal and vice-principal, spreading a HatePlague through the school, and even bumping the Rainbooms forward in the BattleOfTheBands, just so they could manipulate Trixie into trapping the Rainbooms beneath the stage.
* Details from the beginning of the ''Disney/TheLionKing'' strongly imply that Scar's initial plan was to have Simba killed only, so he'd remove competition for the throne. It wasn't until the hyenas failure to kill Simba due to Mufasa's interference, as well as Banzai's sardonic question of whether Scar should kill Mufasa to get the throne that Scar even considered the idea of killing Mufasa in the first place. Even more impressively, when Simba makes his big return, after getting over his initial shock at Simba being alive, Scar is able to improvise and nearly win again by killing Simba.
* Over the course of ''Disney/{{Tangled}}'' Gothel's plan to keep Rapunzel's hair for herself quickly evolves from manipulating Rapunzel into staying in the tower, to framing Flynn for abandoning Rapunzel while staging a fake rescue, to outright chaining Rapunzel up and [[spoiler: murdering Flynn]].
* ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'': Shan Yu can still improvise and nearly win after the destruction of most of his army.
* In ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'', pulled off expertly by the villain, whose identity and plans remain obscured until just before the climax. His original plan, to marry the newly crowned Elsa, couldn't hold up against a sudden magical catastrophe, so he quickly adapted. He swaps his marriage target to [[spoiler: Anna]], a perfect target for him, and then took leadership of the people in their time of need. Almost every step has him carefully poised to [[VillainWithGoodPublicity appear like the just and legitimate ruler]] that the land needs. And at the last, he's not above a little good ol' fashioned regicide.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The eponymous Jason Bourne of ''Film/TheBourneSeries'' is a good speed chess player. In ''Film/TheBourneUltimatum'' (he gets better at this with each film), he has several Xanatos Speed Chess triumphs, one of the more Oh Shnap of which culminates in:
-->''If you were in your office, we would be having this conversation face-to-face.''
* In the ironically-named ''Film/APerfectMurder'', Creator/MichaelDouglas' relatively simple plot to arrange for his cheating wife to be killed by her lover is quickly derailed when [[spoiler:the wife kills her attacker, only to have it be revealed to not be the lover after all]]. The rest of the film consists of his ever-more-complex game of Xanatos Speed Chess against the wife, her lover, and the cops, as he attempts to bump her off, tie up a proliferating number of loose ends, and keep the police in the dark about it all.
* This was a remake of ''Film/DialMForMurder'', in which the husband is so good that his hastily-improvised new plot is arguably a ''better'' way of getting rid of his wife than the murder.
* Death from ''Franchise/FinalDestination'' is a [[TheChessmaster master]] at this, mostly due to the fact that it is an [[TheOmnipresent omnipresent]] supernatural force that can't be physically threatened. If an intended method of execution for a victim on Death's List is thwarted -- either by themselves or intervention from another character -- Death will rapidly readjust its plan to either kill them in a different way or outright skip them and kill the next in line. The endings of ''Film/FinalDestination3'' and ''Film/FinalDestination5'' even go as far as to imply that [[spoiler: Death will entirely change its own design for the purpose of dispatching past survivors, to the extent of killing hundreds of unrelated people in new disasters.]]
* Daniel Ocean's crew in the ''Film/OceansEleven'' series are surprisingly adept at this. Naturally, they continue this in ''Ocean's Thirteen'', particularly with The Cartwheel by Basher. They attempt this in Ocean's Twelve as well, but they fail. [[spoiler: But it's okay because they had already won before they started.]]
* The female protagonists in ''Film/{{Bound 1996}}'' plan out a complex con [[BatmanGambit that quickly goes off its rails when their victim reacts unexpectedly]], forcing them to improvise new strategies on the fly.
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'':
** The franchise is extremely fond of speed chess, as the characters learn quickly that no one in the cast can be trusted. A trickster's plans are often derailed by some SpannerInTheWorks, forcing them into countless on-the-fly renegotiations.
--->''Do you think he plans it out ahead of time, or [[IndyPloy just makes it up as he goes along?]]''
** [[BigBad Cutler Beckett]], though, is [[{{Narcissist}} arrogant]] enough that he thinks he doesn't need to do this, relying solely on his schemes as he originally conceived them. He's wrong, and the aggregate chess games of Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, Calypso, Will, and even to an extent Davy Jones all come around and bite him ''hard''.
** Jack, in particular, is an absolute master of the game. The reason everyone thinks he's mad? He's playing multiple games at double speed. He looks crazy because ''no one else can keep up.''
** The Brethren Court meeting in the [[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd third film]] is a game of Gambit Speed Chess between Barbossa and Jack using whatever resources they have, culminating in the climax of the film.
* If anyone might be considered a Xanatos Speed Chess grand master, it would be Film/JamesBond. None of his plans go off without a ton of snags, but he's always able to come out on top in the end, using every means at his disposal and in general having a feel for what his adversaries and allies might end up doing at any given moment.
** In ''Film/LicenceToKill'', Bond's assassination attempt against [[BigBad Franz Sanchez]] fails, however he gets Sanchez to think that one of his associates arranged the attempt, and Sanchez has him brutally executed, getting Bond a place inside his circle.
** Film/{{Goldfinger}} actually outplays Bond through most of the film. At least once he does it unknowingly since Bond secretly placed a note with a tracking device on someone Goldfinger killed for other reasons. In fact, Bond only succeeded due to to a HeelFaceTurn by Pussy Galore and he didn't even know she'd turned.
* The point of ''Film/MillersCrossing''. Depending on your interpretation though, it could be a GambitRoulette.
* Walter Burns in ''Film/HisGirlFriday''. He's ALWAYS got a plan. Really, the only thing keeping him from being a (relatively nice) MagnificentBastard is that he's so easy to see through.
* Emperor Palpatine from ''Franchise/StarWars'' ... so much that people now assume ''every single aspect'' of the series is his doing, and all went as planned ([[ItWasHisSled except dying]]). They forget that most of ''The Phantom Menace'' has him quickly changing his game plan, either because he overestimated the heroes or because X-factors kept popping up. He ends up getting what he wanted, but WordOfGod says there were enough setbacks that he had to wait a decade to get the ball rolling on the next big step in his plan, including the loss of an apprentice. That he was able to take one of those X-factors and befriend him early so he could turn him into a replacement apprentice is testament to his speed-chess abilities.\\\
It's eventually revealed that he did anticipate and plan for Maul's death (he's a Sith Lord, duh). However, the Jedi being sent to deal with the Trade Federation, as well as Amidala's arrival on Naboo, were not part of his plans according to supplementary materials (Valorum consulted the Jedi without informing the Senate first, and he did expect Maul to succeed in retrieving Amidala). In fact, his original plan was that he and his agents would create turmoil, draw the occupation out for months or even years, and cause enough pressure to cow the Senate into electing him. Almost everything after Amidala turned up on Coruscant was improvisation and moving up the timetable considerably.\\\
Plus, he and Banking Clan big shot Hego Damask (alias Literature/DarthPlagueis) meant for Amidala to be a martyr. And there was a nine-year-old [[SpannerInTheWorks hydrospanner in the works]] as a side effect of Plagueis' experiments.
* ''Film/{{Fargo}}'': Jerry Lundegaard finds himself in a game of this, and is not very good at it, but never gives up.
* ''Film/{{Inception}}'': One can assume that the core extraction team of Cobb, Arthur, and Eames are exceptionally good at this. Going into a mark's subconscious has to be a tricky prospect no matter how much is planned out ahead of time.
* ''Film/ThePrestige'' is basically XanatosSpeedChess: TheMovie. Two rival magicians spend the movie finding increasingly elaborate ways to one-up the other, getting increasingly out of control as events progress, until [[spoiler: one of them has framed the other for his own murder... and that's not even the final gambit.]]
* This turns out to be an [[CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass unexpected forte]] of bank teller Miles Cullen in ''Film/TheSilentPartner''.
* Hoffman in ''Film/SawVI'' and ''Film/Saw3D'' proves to be a master at this. Every time one of his plans disintegrates, he improvises a new, better, plan within roughly 10 seconds. It's fun to watch.
* Kimble vs. Gerard in ''Film/TheFugitive'', particularly towards the end, as Kimble goes from trying to evade Gerard to realizing that he needs him on his side. So when Kimble finally finds the man who killed his wife, he deliberately lets Gerard trace him there (escaping before he arrives, of course), knowing that Gerard (who has already begun to suspect that Kimble is innocent) will start putting things together. To top it off, both men soon realize the extent of the conspiracy surrounding Kimble and how it was masterminded by [[spoiler:his so-called friend Dr. Nichols]], leading Gerard to race to find Kimble not to arrest him, but to protect him from the police and prevent him from committing murder for real in order to avenge his wife.
* Riff and her friend are forced into this in ''Film/RockAndRollHighSchool'' after Miss Togar's henchmen steal their tickets on her orders. [[DidntSeeThatComing They win]] when a SpannerInTheWorks blasts a free ticket giveaway by chance and they participate in a GambitRoulette and get both tickets.
* The main character in ''Film/TheNextThreeDays'' managed to pull the strings of enough {{Batman Gambit}}s in order to [[GreatEscape break his wife out of prison and escape the American authorities]]. However, there were many factors which throws off his plans off, either unforeseen circumstances or miscalculations on his part. This includes: [[spoiler: him being cheated out of his money, his first attempt to break into the prison using a "bump key" failing spectacularly, his wife is being moved to another prison in 3 days, the police managed to figure out part of his plan beforehand, the party he left his son on was at the zoo, and his wife refusing to leave without their son]]. Despite all that, he still managed to pull off his plan by lots and lots of improvisation.
* [[VillainProtagonist Porter]] from ''Film/{{Payback}}'' continually sees complications come up in his [[ASimplePlan simple plan]] to track down his backstabbing ex-partner and get back the share of his money from the last job they pulled together. He adapts to circumstances and finds new ways to persevere, probably best exemplified when [[spoiler:his plan to use the son of the head of TheSyndicate (Porter had kidnapped the son) goes to hell when the Syndicate goons grab him after a shootout and start trying to torture the information out of him. In the midst of the torture session, Porter comes up with a new plan, and leads the Syndicate bosses into a booby trapped room]].
* Josh and his crew from ''Film/TowerHeist'' (an AffectionateParody of heist films like ''Film/OceansEleven'') start out with a plan, but when things go south Josh proves himself a master of this trope.
* CRS in ''Film/TheGame'' (1997). Although at times it seems that the success of the company's gambit depends upon Nicholas Van Orton doing ''exactly the thing he does'', [[FridgeBrilliance upon further reflection]], it seems very likely that no matter what move Nicholas makes, they've planned for it and can adjust their "game."
--> '''Feingold:''' Thank God [[spoiler: you jumped]], because if you didn't, [[spoiler: I was supposed to throw you off.]]
* ''Film/DirtyRottenScoundrels'' is basically a chess match between [[ConMan Freddie Benson]] and [[GentlemanThief Lawrence Jamieson]] to see who can scam [[TheIngenue Janet Colgate]] first. [[spoiler:[[OutGambitted Janet wins.]]]]
* In ''Film/DraftDay'' the Browns have to play this during the 2014 draft to make sure their initial choices don't have disastrous consequences.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'', Helmut Zemo spends the entire movie playing this. His actual plan is very simple ([[spoiler: find proof the Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark's parents, show Tony, watch the Avengers fall apart as Steve and Tony fight]]), which means he can both compensate when the plan doesn't turn out perfectly (like when the HYDRA agent refuses to give him information) and take advantage of existing circumstances (he had nothing to do with the Sokovia Accords).

* This is arguably the defining trait of Literature/HarryPotter. Despite Hermione being more clever and Ron knowing more about the Wizarding World, neither are as good as thinking on their toes the way Harry is. Contrast this with Voldemort, [[TheChessmaster who meticulously plans everything]] and is a big fan of playing the long game to get what he wants. The twist though is that Voldemort has ComplexityAddiction and is so egotistical it causes him to dismiss small or simple things as unimportant, giving Harry and company weaknesses to exploit. That said, Hermione's strategy and Ron's support go a long way, and Harry doesn't forget that.
-->'''Harry:''' Look, it all sounds ''great'' when you say it like that, but the truth is most of that was just luck. I didn't know what I was doing half the time and I nearly always had help. Facing this stuff in real life is not like school. In school, if you make a mistake you can just try again tomorrow, but out there, when you're a second away from being murdered or watching a friend die right before your eyes...you don't know what that's like.
* Various Illuminati in ''Literature/{{Duumvirate}}'' are so good at this it's impossible to know whether or not they planned everything out in advance.
* In ''Literature/KushielsLegacy'', by Jacqueline Carey, most of the principle cast has some basic training in {{XanatosGambit}}s. Melisande is just so good at it, other characters have to play Speed Chess to keep up.
* ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'':
** ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'': Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was tripped up by some [[DidntSeeThatComing unforeseen elements]] coming together at once, and his initial backup plan in case of death was also thwarted, but damn if he didn't adapt when he could see it. Thrawn also gets credit for recognizing the unforeseen elements possibly being a problem...he just didn't have a plan for them YET.
** Also, his three would-be successors in the two-book series ''Literature/HandOfThrawn'', who are sometimes frantic in their behind-the-scenes efforts to maintain the ''illusion'' that Thrawn has returned. Thrawn's student Pellaeon demonstrates it too.
** There is a set of four short stories, collectively a novella, where Creator/TimothyZahn and Michael Stackpole collaborated. In very, very short it involved Thrawn going in disguise, reporting a Rebel meeting near the home of a criminal who supported someone that Vader hated but wasn't allowed to interfere with, and calling down the nearest Imperial forces. He ended up working a pair of planetary policemen into that plan, getting them in through a convoluted scheme and letting them arrest the man. We never, ever get to see his thoughts, but at the end he confesses to a trusted subordinate that he hadn't known about the policemen, but when he saw them and determined they were after that criminal, it was too good an opportunity to miss.
** In ''Literature/OutboundFlight'', Thrawn's plan is to destroy the Vagaari threat, and he uses all the new species and technology and ships he encounters for the first time over the course of the book to do so. ''All'' of them. Humans, a stolen gravity-well generator, Neimodians, droids, the Trade Federation, Darth Sidious, Outbound Flight, Jedi... ''all'' of them. Magnificent. His plan nearly fails, though, when Jorus C'baoth goes over to the dark side and tries to Force Choke him. This was because he had never even heard of a "Jedi" until recently, and had no idea of the kind of power they possessed.
** ''Literature/XWingSeries'': A certain amount of speed chess helps prop up Wraith Squadron's plans when things [[DidntSeeThatComing start going off script]]. Face Loran is perhaps the greatest practitioner of the art, exacerbated by his tendency to never tell anyone anything, except when strictly necessary (for reasons of operational security), meaning that even when he ''has'' planned for something, his allies are usually unaware. His more-or-less-designated successor, Voort or "Piggy", is [[BatmanGambit more of a pre-planner]], but embraces the need for this trope at the climax of ''Mercy Kill'', dragging his wayward plan back into line with a combination of mechanical know-how, reliable subordinates, money, [[BreadMilkEggsSquick and Gamorrean striptease]].
%%* ''Literature/TheLiesOfLockeLamora''
* Jeeves of Creator/PGWodehouse's ''Literature/JeevesAndWooster'' pulled this off once or twice, when his first plans failed.
* The modus operandi of [[MagnificentBastard Havelock Vetinari]] in the Literature/{{Discworld}} books, especially later in the series. He maintains that he does not make ''plans'' because plans can be derailed; he merely deals with events as they occur.
** Moist von Lipwig blurs the line between this and a string of {{Indy Ploy}}s.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'':
** Many arguments have been waged among fans about whether resident MagnificentBastard Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish [[IndyPloy makes it up as he goes]] or [[GambitRoulette has it all planned in advance]]. It can be argued that Littlefinger's equal parts TheChessmaster and TheTrickster, with [[TheSocialExpert speed]] ''[[ConsummateLiar poker]]'' as his true forte. Littlefinger himself believes (or at least would have others believe) that it is 100% this trope; he claims that one of his favourite tactics is to simply create chaos and then trust [[OpportunisticBastard his own ability to sense and capitalise upon opportunities on the fly]] whilst everyone else is busy reeling from having their [[LetNoCrisisGoToWaste careful plans disrupted]] by [[SpannerInTheWorks Spanners in the Works]].
** Less problematic for the fanbase is defining the other side of the Mega-Duo [[AmbiguouslyEvil Of Utter Moral Ambiguity]] as a speed-chess player. Good, old, fog-bank Varys. He ''definitely'' plans, counter-plans and contingencies up to his eyeballs and beyond with the various plate-spinning political games he can choose to change at the drop of a hat. And, if all else fails, he falls back on plans BatmanGambit or IndyPloy to see what he make of the results, later. [[spoiler: He might have put Tyrion in the position that enabled him to kill Tywin, as helping him escape to Essos was part of the deal, sure... but...]] It's very unlikely that he actually fully planned on that specific thing to happen right ''then'', [[spoiler: since Jaime triggered it all by forcing him to directly free Tyrion]] -- not that that stopped him using them both to undermine each other (and their whole family) while "under duress". Other things he's done have been similar to that.
** Tywin Lannister isn't half bad when it comes to this trope, either (which goes a long way to explaining why he's held up as a general example of what it is to be a Hand of the King by other nobles able to appreciate his play). Particularly when it comes to the realms of wartime strategy and cutting the knees of political opposition off. His [[spoiler: downfall comes about solely due to the seemingly-insignificant weakness of an irrational hatred for a certain physically stunted fruit of his loins]].
** A historical one can be found in Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers. The sheer amount of direction, craftiness and hard work he put into defeating the Blackfyres included an awful lot of making do with whatever tools came to hand, whenever they came to hand. Including a certain [[Literature/TalesOfDunkAndEgg errant hedge knight and erring Targaryen princeling]]. [[HateSink He's utterly hated for it by almost everybody.]]
* Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold's ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'':
** Miles Vorkosigan spends most of his appearances playing Xanatos Speed Chess, often as a result of a simple plan running out of his control.
** In ''Literature/TheVorGame'', the BigBad makes up about four or five new plans in a single day as Miles tries to counter them and new chances arise. She even uses her old plans as pawns in her new plans. [[spoiler:It backfires. In the end, Miles pointed out that if she had stuck to any of them, she would have been better off.]]
* In ''Literature/{{Shogun}}'' Toranaga and Ishido do it through the whole book. Ishido seems to be better at it, as during much of the second half Toranaga mainly just goes through desperate attempts to buy more time and needs the help of several others to figure out how to counter Ishido's latest move. [[spoiler:But in the end it's enough...]]
* From ''Literature/HonorHarrington'':
** Victor Cachat specializes in these kinds of plays, usually with only a general plan to guide his decisions.
** The Mesan Alignment (and Albrecht Detweiler in particular) is playing its own game of Xanatos Chess, albeit on a much slower time scale. Just how successful they are remains to be seen.
* In Creator/BenCounter's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Literature/HorusHeresy novel ''Galaxy In Flames'', when Angron attacks the [[spoiler:survivors of their treacherous attack]], Horus (after [[DidntSeeThatComing being angry with himself for not predicting it]]) considers including him in the strike and so being rid of a dangerous ally. But he reminds his advisors of how he never lost, because he always managed to turn everything that happened in victory. He could bomb and take Angron out, or he could adapt his plan to use it and make a still more glorious victory. [[spoiler:He explains afterward that by [[ShootYourMate fighting]] [[FireForgedFriends their battle brothers]], he had ensured their commitment.]]
%%* BigBad Ublaz Mad Eyes and [[TheStarscream Starscream]] Rasconza play this in ''[[{{Literature/Redwall}} Pearls of Lutra]]''.
* Trying to get someone else framed for a crime, especially for attempted murder, is probably harder than committing the crime itself. ''The Missing Clue'', the last of the Usborne Whodunnits series for younger readers, for ultimately failing. But boy could he think on his feet. Being the screenwriter for a popular soap opera, he managed to frame his target not just once but, failing that, made a second fresh attempt within a single day while only touching the weapons once. With the series of arrests this triggers, he's then forced to not just make his third attempt - framing a third person by getting them to murder his target on live TV - but to write up an entirely new script in the same period of time. That's diligence.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles''
** The Denarians are a inversion. It's been noted that, with the exception of Nicodemus, the Denarians immortality and massive experience lend themselves greatly to their ability to plan but makes them horrible at improvisation.
** ''Skin Game'' is one long chess match between Nicodemus and Harry, each trying to maneuver the other into breaking the terms of the bargain that forces them to work together. [[spoiler: Ultimately Harry is able to provoke Nicodemus into breaking his word, irrevocably tarnishing his name in the supernatural community.]]
* Literature/ArseneLupin in the second and third canonical Crossovers with SherlockHolmes read like this. In the second crossover, ''The Blonde Phantom'', Holmes [[spoiler: manages to find and capture Lupin's main accomplice the eponymous Blonde Phantom herself, and has a cab waiting outside to take them both to the station while he plans his next move. Three guesses on who is driving the cab. Later Lupin sends Holmes all tied up back to England, hoping to never see him again, then gets ready to clear his hideout of many years, since Holmes knowing about it compromises its safety. Guess which English Detective is waiting for Lupin to show up.]]
** Taken to eleven by Lupin in the final confrontation with Holmes, where he readjusts his plans again and again to adjust to a constantly changing situation involving 1) Holmes showing up with the police, 2) an attempt at bribery by Holmes, 3) blackmail by Holmes, and 4) a hidden door with an uncooperative lock. [[spoiler:Lupin gets away with the Blonde Phantom, though not with the diamond.]]
* ''Literature/ArtemisFowl: the Time Paradox'' is essentially a game of Xanatos Speed Chess between [[spoiler:Opal Koboi]] and Artemis, with [[spoiler:Time Travel]] added in to make it a bit more interesting.
* As noted in the quotes section, [[MagnificentBastard Senna Wales]] of ''Literature/{{Everworld}}'' is an absolute master of this trope. See her entry in OutGambitted for the most triumphant example.
* David from ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' plays a mean game too, which is only appropriate as Senna is his {{Expy}}. He loses mainly because he gets sidetracked trying to humiliate Rachel, as Cassie predicted he would.
** The final battle eventually breaks down into this, as the kids run around the ship wreaking havoc and looking for any edge to save Rachel, with Visser One (unsuccessfully) attempting to contain the situation.
* ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'' - the AI Wintermute describes himself this way: "I try to plan, in your sense of the word, but that isn't my basic mode, really. I improvise. It's my greatest talent. I prefer situations to plans, you see..." The plot of the book never makes a big point of this, though: when Molly decides to take a detour and when [[spoiler:Case gets tricked by Neuromancer into thinking he's Wintermute]], he doesn't manage to stop them.
* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'': Moiraine Damodred never has trouble manipulating everyone around her even when they are [[YouCantFightFate ta'veren]]and aware she is manipulating them. When she ADMITS she is manipulating them, they only seem more compliant. The best example has to be when she goes through the ter'angreal to fulfill the prophecy about her needing to die to save the [[AGodAmI hero]] but [[spoiler: she is rescued from the dimension she'd been trapped in with another well laid plan.]]
** Another candidate might be [[NeverMessWithGranny Cadsuane Melaidhrin]]. On the military side, Rodel Ituralde most definitely counts.
* Crowley from ''Literature/GoodOmens'' pulls this when two Dukes of Hell are sent to [[spoiler:drag him back down to... well, [[CaptainObvious hell]]]]. After Crowley's [[CrazyPrepared Plan A]] works on only ''one'' of his foes, he turns to Plan B, which fails in record time. Time for Plan C! ...Unfortunately, there ''is'' no Plan C. He comes up with Plan C on the fly, which boils down to tricking the Duke, Hastur, into [[spoiler:[[ItMakesSenseInContext chasing him into]] ''[[ItMakesSenseInContext phone lines]]'', winding back and forth over miles and miles of cable, and then timing his own escape ''perfectly''... back into Crowley's own apartment, where his own phone was ringing, at the ''exact moment'' before his answering machine picked up]]. The result? Hastur [[spoiler:is now trapped in Crowley's ''answering machine'']]. Doubles as a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for Crowley.
* Phaethon from Creator/JohnCWright's ''[[Literature/TheGoldenOecumene The Golden Age]]'' starts off with a straightforward plan, which unfortunately DidntSeeThatComing. Fortunately, he's also an engineer and believes in triple redundancy. The rest of the book is basically him working down the Xanatos index one by one.
* Duke Vincentio in Creator/WilliamShakespeare's play ''Theatre/MeasureForMeasure'' pulls this off. After his initial plan to rescue Claudio fails, he changes tack to a brand new strategy almost immediately.
* The Martians from ''Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' were good at this; when the British army and their artillery took down a tripod, the Martians understood that they had underestimated the humans' [[TheDeterminator determination]] and [[ZergRush strength in numbers]] and from then on used poison gas to clear new territory before they walked in with the tripods. Later, as there are no seas on Mars, the Martians had no idea how to battle the ''HMS Thunder Child'' of the British Navy and attempted to sink it with both gas and heat rays. They destroyed the ship, but not before it took two tripods with it and defended the escaping refugee vessels. After the battle, it's hinted that the Martians began to develop a sort of air force to combat the human navies. However, the Martians lacked any backup plan against the earthly diseases that eventually killed them.
* In the Literature/NewJediOrder, General Wedge Antilles proves to have some skill at this on Borleias. He's trying to strategically lose to fool the Vong forces, while keeping his own as intact as possible, when the ''Lusankya'' and the ''Millenium Falcon'' come into system in exactly the wrong time and place. He couldn't let those be destroyed, so he has to rearrange forces that were in retreat to rescue them, while still preserving as much of his fleet as possible. And he does, and it is [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome awesome]].
--> The tactic he needed clicked into Wedge's mind. In the span of a second, he evaluated it, tested it for major weaknesses, dismissed the weaknesses as irrelevant because of the Yuuzhan Vong's current state of confusion, and decided that he could probably use the tactic again - once - at a later time.
** The downside of course is that he ends up winning ''despite trying to lose'', which turns into a SpringtimeForHitler situation when the enemy then sends a ''much'' smarter commander to oppose him. (For those wondering, he fooled and out-strategized that one too.)
* In any [[Literature/TheCulture Culture]] novel you'll find varied experts at every version of gambit, especially with some of the Minds, standout examples of of TheChessmaster. However, in Xanatos Speed Chess specifically, awards go to ''Literature/ThePlayerOfGames'' (where the protagonist [[spoiler: decides to bring down an entire ''civilisation'' using this trope (his original plan having been cast aside for the continuous analysis of modifiers he discovers half-way through]]), ''Literature/UseOfWeapons'' (where the protagonist lives on this trope (usually literally his own survival)), and ''Literature/{{Excession}}'' (where the Interesting Times Gang are long-time veterans of Xanatos Speed Chess and have elevated it to an artform).
* Creator/WilkieCollins seems to have been fond of this trope; Lydia Gwilt in ''Armadale'' and Captain Wragge in ''No Name'' are both excellent Xanatos Speed Chess players.
%%* Common in the Literature/DreamPark novels, especially ''Literature/TheCaliforniaVoodooGame''.
%%* ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'': Belisarius on a tactical level is constantly improvising on the fly.
* Shift the ape, the villain of the final ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'' book ''Literature/TheLastBattle'', is very good at adjusting his plans in seconds. When a BoltOfDivineRetribution strikes nearby after he and BumblingSidekick Puzzle think up a plan to pass himself off as a false [[CrystalDragonJesus Aslan]], Shift claims it is a sign of divine ''approval'' for their deceptive plan. When a lamb protests allying with the Calormens because they worship the evil Tash, Shift just rebukes him and tells him Aslan and Tash are the same being. When Puzzle is captured and Tirian the king plans to reveal him as the false Aslan, Shift does their job for them by spreading the word about it but blaming Tirian for being the one to deceive everyone.
* Creator/FrederickForsyth often has his characters doing this, and sometimes at the end (especially in ''The Devil's Alternative'') they find out that ''they'' were being used in the Speed Chess of someone at a higher level than them.
* Tavi from ''Literature/CodexAlera'' by Jim Butcher is an exemplar of this trope. In book five, across the ocean from his home continent, surrounded by anthropomorphic wolves who easily outclass him, he plays a game of Xanatos Speed Chess with limited resources against a villain who has hundreds of thousands of extremely powerful fodder. AND WINS.
* The entire Korval ''clan'' in Miller & Lee's "Literature/LiadenUniverse" books - particularly Delm Val Con Yos Phelium and his lifemate Miri.
* In ''Literature/EndersGame'', Ender is able to lead Dragon Army to an unprecedented 7:0 win/loss ratio in his first week as a commander because of this trope. Most of his opponents used pre-planned formations and had little room for improvisation; Dragon Army was structured to operate as much smaller units and even had a specific team whose job was to come up with "[[CrazyEnoughToWork stupid ideas]]" to keep the enemy off-balance. In short, Ender made use of the fact that his troops weren't just soldiers, but ''genius-level'' soldiers.
** From the ''Literature/EndersShadow'' spinoff series there's Achilles de Flandres. Despite being of ordinary birth and growing up a crippled street urchin, he's able to complete with genetically-engineered supergeniuses and effectively turn the world into his personal game of ''TabletopGame/{{Risk}}''. At one point mentor figure Colonel Graff pointedly tells Peter Wiggin that Achilles is not unbeatable, and that the reason why he keeps outwitting geniuses is because he's mastered the art of creating chaotic situations and then seizing opportunities.
* Creator/IsaacAsimov's Literature/{{Foundation}} trilogy: [[spoiler: The Second Foundation]]
* In Creator/SarahAHoyt's ''Literature/DarkshipThieves'', Thena observes that she always has a Plan B, and often a Plan C, and all too frequently she has to resort to Plan F.
* In ''[[Literature/ElsabethSoesten No Good Deed...]]'', [[spoiler: after Elsabeth and Hieronymus [[SpannerInTheWorks accidentally spoil Cuncz's attempt to steal incriminating information from Father Garnerius]], he quickly improvises and decides to just use ''them'' to recover the information instead.]]
* In Jeramey Kraatz's ''Literature/TheCloakSociety'', Cloak realizes the opening the Rangers' disappearance gives and decides to pose as superheroes first to advance the plan and then permanently. [[spoiler: Their history of not wearing masks, because they did not realize they wanted to be imposters, means that the heroes can prove who they are with footage.]]
%%* Haymitch Abernathy of ''Literature/TheHungerGames''
* The works of Creator/StephenRDonaldson are rife with [[TheChessMaster Chess Masters]], both heroic and villainous, but they rarely have a detailed plan. Rather, they work by creating an overall situation where it is likely that they will get what they want, and then seizing every opportunity to add to that likelyhood. (e.g., by [[Literature/TheChroniclesOfThomasCovenant giving a mentally unbalanced person the ability to destroy the world, and then messing with their head in every way conceivable]]).
* Contrary to his depictions in the movies, this is the normal operating mode of Literature/ConanTheBarbarian, and the primary reason that in a world where a [[LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards sorcerer always gets what he wants]], a scrappy thief whose primary interest is acquiring easy money and then drinking it away before the beginning of the next story is somehow the setting's game-breaker.
** In one story Conan needs to interrupt a magical god-summoning ritual, and with the help of some seers comes up with an elaborate plan that centers on using a disrupting artefact to bypass the seal on an ancient tomb to retrieve a sword that is the god's bane before the ritual can take place. When shenanigans involving teleportation pop him out of the tomb swordless and with only one use of the nullifier, he uses the knowledge he's gained from the tomb to try to assassinate vital personnel for the ritual. When that doesn't work and he's caught by the gloating villain and tied up to witness the summoning of the god, he waits until special effects start happening, slips his bonds, and throws the half-expended nullifier artefact at the bit that's glowing with the most obvious arcane power, gambling that the backlash of the disrupted ritual will target the conjurer before any bystanders.
* ''Literature/SecondApocalypse'': Dunyain monks such as Kellhus can think extraordinarily quickly, allowing them to react on the fly to new developments and stay on the shortest path to success. When two opposing Dunyain encounter each other, they each see possibilities collapsing and new opportunities opening with each passing second as their minds race to stay on their own path.
* ''Literature/VillageTales'': The Duke of Taunton sees no crises and no setbacks: merely opportunities to exploit. Well: if one is the sort of chap who can think rings around everyone else combined.
--> '''The Duke, blandly, to the Nawab:''' "'As I say, one cannot foresee everything, one merely tries to take advantage of such strokes of fortune. But all this is dependent upon events and chances which are by nature unforeseeable.'
--> '''The Nawab:''' "'There really are no options in this which do not – your ''opponents'' have no options before them which do not – leave you with at least a partial victory.'
--> '''The Duke:''' "'None which are obvious, but that is the point: one never knows. One cannot plan against ''everything''.'
--> '''The Nawab, drily:''' "'No: merely fold events into one's plans and make them serve one's objectives.'"
* ''Literature/TheWayOfKings'' (first book of ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive''): Sadeas is the "set everything up in my favor and see what happens" flavor of Chessmaster. He uses this to justify "suddenly" [[spoiler:betraying his oldest friend, getting thousands of soldiers killed in the process]].
-->'''Dalinar:''' It wasn't simply a convenient opportunity. You set this up, Sadeas.\\
'''Sadeas:''' I planned, but I'm often planning. I don't always act on my options. Today I did.
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': Tasio the Trickster makes long terms plans but all of them have vague and flexible areas so he can adjust as necessary. He calls this "planning something of that nature". Being an advocate of free will, it also allows him to incorporate the wishes of the people his plan relies on.
* The eponymous main character of the ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'' develops a grand strategy for defeating the Malwa Empire but relies largely on his unmatched ability in improvising at the theater and battlefield levels in order to carry it out, knowing that while Link is fully capable of developing an effective overall strategy, it finds it nearly impossible to improvise or adapt on the fly to changing circumstances to the point of finding it difficult to even conceive of a different outcome than it expects.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Doctor is a renowned master of the IndyPloy. However, on those rare occasions where he actually has a semblance of a plan, if things go awry, he'll tend to only pause momentarily in shock before dashing off to salvage victory regardless. The [[TheChessmaster Seventh Doctor]], who ''always'' has a plan, does this more often than not (including at least one long, drawn-out game with an Ancient Evil from the Dawn of Time).
** [[ArchEnemy The Master]] has his own knack for turning bad situations to his advantage -- witness [[spoiler:his magnificent comeback from ''accidentally'' destroying about a quarter of the universe to holding the rest to ransom]] in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E7Logopolis Logopolis]]". And in the first part of "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E17E18TheEndOfTime The End of Time]]", [[spoiler:after his scheme to come BackFromTheDead went awry, killing his support network and causing him to [[CameBackWrong Come Back Wrong]], and he gets kidnapped by someone who wants his help with fixing some AppliedPhlebotinum, he quickly hatches and executes a scheme to take control of said Phlebotinum and use it to take over the world. He succeeds]]. Unfortunately for him, [[spoiler: he gets [[OutGambit out-gambitted]] by Rassilon, Lord President of the Time Lords, who fixes the population of Earth with a wave of his hand. He then proceeds to tell the Master he's [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness outlived his usefulness]] and, well, the Master [[HeroicSacrifice decides to take his revenge]].]]
** The fifth season of the revived series ends with not one but two quite brilliant examples by the Doctor himself. [[spoiler: The first to save the universe and the second to save himself, both fully exploiting the possibilities of time travel in a way he doesn't usually try]].
** In [[Recap/DoctorWhoS15E6TheInvasionOfTime "The Invasion of Time"]], the Doctor succeeds in spite of learning the people he was foiling were only the façcade. It's implied that the Doctor knew they weren't the BigBad the entire time, and only dealt with them in the first place solely so that they would reveal who or what the real threat actually was. The first half of Invasion of Time actually goes ''exactly'' according to the Doctor's original plan.
** River Song's first encounter with the Doctor consists of her repeatedly pulling weapons out to kill him, which he has unloaded (or in one case switched with a banana) moments before. As he puts it: "I know you know." In the end, [[spoiler:she poisons him with a kiss]] and points out she was planning to do it like that anyway. "{{I know you know I know}}".
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Part of Littlefinger's strategy appears to be fomenting chaos and reacting to opportunities as they present themselves.
* Michael Scofield of ''Series/PrisonBreak'' is excellent with this. When he isn't planning large gambits, he's doing this anyway (especially in the fourth season). However, due to [[GambitPileup various interventions]] even his large gambits such as the Fox River prison break are always threatened to be ruined unless Michael plays some speed chess.
* The bad guys on ''Series/TwentyFour'' are very good at this. [[MemeticBadass Jack Bauer is better.]] Whereas there have been complaints that Tony's plan in Season 7 involved the use of elements he couldn't predict, in fact he was employing this trope rather than a GambitRoulette [[spoiler: He had been working patiently to gain the trust of the real BigBad and it just so happened that Jack screwed up his original plan and simultaneously gave Tony a new opportunity to carry out his revenge against the BigBad.]]
* The characters from ''Franchise/StarTrek'' are really good at these.
** Picard may have the slight edge in execution, in that he generally tried to stick to the plan and obey orders. Kirk on the other hand just made shit up, thus he's more a master of the IndyPloy.
** Gul Dukat only ever had goals (mostly involving power or revenge) rather than long term plans. He was always willing to switch sides (which he did a lot), grab any opportunity that presents itself, or try to work situations to his favor.
* The form of strategy generally practiced by wannabe [[TheChessmaster Chessmasters]] in ''Series/{{Survivor}}'', to effectively counter the numerous [[ShockingSwerve Shocking Swerves]] the show tends to throw that has been the bane of their predecessors. Some like to pretend that they're really playing [[GambitRoulette Roulette]], just to seem more impressive than they really are.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'':
** Benjamin Linus of is the poster child of this trope, adapting and changing to events around him with such ease over the course of the series that one can't help but find the constant Gambit Roulettes fairly plausible. Then season 5 and 6 happened, where so many events come at him out of left field, even his actor admits he's being forced to act less more like [[IndyPloy Indy]].
--->"I think Ben has a lot of layers of plans, but I think we're way off the main stem of anything that works for him. I mean, Ben's doing like moment-to-moment scrambling now."
** The Man in Black has been shown to play a round or two in the final season, one example culminating in him [[spoiler:blowing up a submarine and killing 3 of the main cast]].
* This is most of what Vic Mackey does in ''Series/TheShield'', especially in the later seasons.
* Michael Westen of ''Series/BurnNotice'' is a master at this trope, sometimes pulling off two per episode (one for helping his clients, and another for gaining more information on the people who burned him, although the latter ones don't always succeed). Because the first plan never goes as expected he has to make changes on the fly, often with little or no communication with his team about the new plan.
** In one episode Michael faces off against a guy so smart that the entire episode consists entirely of Michael coming up with modifications of modifications of his original plans. The beauty being that Michael sets things up such that, even though the guy KNOWS Michael's playing him, he has no choice but to play along.
** The scene where he first meets [[FoeYay Victor]] actually takes place in a chess park. Their conversation is interspersed with [[LampshadeHanging shots of people playing]] ''[[LampshadeHanging literal]]'' [[LampshadeHanging speed chess]].
** There's another great example in "Question and Answer", in the "reverse-interrogation" scene. Michael's undercover as a junkie snitch, Sam as a corrupt cop, and they have to let the bad guy interrogate Michael about information ''neither of them have''. The entire scene is Sam playing head games with the bad guy, while Michael pretends to know information he doesn't, and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome pull it off]].
* ''Series/JeevesAndWooster'': Jeeves is a master at this, even when Bertie isn't and comes up with plan Bs like "Feign amnesia!"
* Colonel Hogan on ''Series/HogansHeroes'' is a master of this and the IndyPloy, because no plan ''ever'' goes quite as planned.
* Nate Ford of ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' prides himself on being a CrazyPrepared {{Chessmaster}}. However, his plans always go awry and he has to create a new one on the fly, which actually works out spectacularly well. ''Every single episode.'' Except when things are going as they planned but they're operating on the UnspokenPlanGuarantee, so it appears to viewers that something has gone wrong.
* LampShaded in ''Series/StargateSG1'' in the Season 7 episode "Evolution part 1". When SG-1 and SG-3 set a trap for one of Anubis' Kull warriors, O'Neill orders Reynolds of SG-3 to set up a secondary perimeter. The man jokes with O'Neill about not having "much faith in Plan A" causing O'Neill to respond "Since when has Plan A ever worked?"
* Several instances also occur in ''Series/StargateAtlantis''.
** When two hives force the ''Daedalus'' to retreat, Sheppard quickly latches onto one of them before they jump to hyperspace; once they come out, Sheppard blows away the hyperdrive of one, delaying them until the ''Daedalus'' comes back with the ''Orion''.
** Another instance is when he was instructed to man an Ancient ship, he tried to hijack it but Larrin foiled his plan; he responded by alerting his teammates with an SOS signal disguised as hyperspace background radiation.
** Having a Mensa-level I.Q. certainly helps. And he ''does'' beat Rodney in chess at least once. It helps that Sheppard's intelligence is highly focused on tactical scenarios (being military), whereas Rodney's genius applies to much different subjects, while he also suffers from overconfidence and a tendency to make poorly-considered mistakes (especially in cases where significant foresight is required -- Rodney very much lives in the moment). It's entirely possible (if not likely) that even Ronon could beat Rodney in a game like chess, especially since Rodney would probably be thinking of ten different things during the game.
* ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' and ''Series/AbsolutePower'' contain many examples. Both feature characters working in crisis management PR, which is essentially the profession of Xanatos Speed Chess. ''The Thick Of It'''s Resident MagnificentBastard Malcolm Tucker, head press guy for [[{{Whitehall}} Number 10 Downing Street]], specializes in Xanatos Speed Chess and profanity.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'':
** Crowley. Oh, Lord, Crowley. He has to be the master of Xanatos Speed Chess in Supernatural. He's the only demon who has EVER been able to convince the Winchesters to actually DO WHAT HE WANTS! And as of the end of S6, he has yet to die, even though his "death" has been shown onscreen many times, it was always fake and/or a setup. Crowley is a Xanatos master.
** The Trickster/Gabriel was pretty good at this too, faking his death in virtually every episode and throwing in the occasional BatmanGambit in his manipulations of the Winchesters. He gets outplayed in the end though, and KilledOffForReal.
** Chuck, if you think about his true identity. He can play Xanatos Speed Chess with the best of them, though he is very secretive about it and never reveals his true intentions ([[spoiler: Of course, being as he's GOD, this is quite easy for him and his intentions are always for the Greater Good]]).
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'':
** Lionel Luthor is breathtakingly good at this. To exemplify: When Chloe is blessed/cursed with the gift of having anyone answer her questions truthfully, she does of course start asking Lionel questions. [[spoiler: He realizes what's going on after the first question and immediately counter-attacks her on her weak spots, thereby distracting a highly intelligent, pretty fearless and incredibly nosy young woman from using her golden chance to get into the secrets of a powerful, rich baddie. She could have asked questions every moment, she was just too stunned to do so.]]
** Chloe herself pulled one in "Roulette", regarding a complicated BatmanGambit, manipulating Oliver and Clark in an attempt to help Oliver find his inner heroism.
* ''Series/MissionImpossible'' is made of this trope. Rarely, if ever, does the IMF's complex plot go completely according to plan. The IMF team simply improvises around whatever does go awry, and eventually achieves its goal anyway. Of course, there were several instances where the audience thought this was happening, but it was really just the plan working perfectly (for instance, when the bad guy becoming wise to the con was actually part of the con). This trope only kicks in for them when their BatmanGambit is about to go awry, which is roughly once an episode. Their use of Xanatos Speed Chess is to draw the villain back to the gambit and/or away from discovering TheMasquerade.\\\
In one first-season episode, it was all Xanatos Speed Chess. Rollin was specifically sent in without a plan because the mission was to recover a wire recording that an agent had hidden in the few minutes between losing his tail and his death. With no one knowing where he had hidden it, they had to rely on Rollin figuring out how to find it, how to recover it, how to return it, and do it all under the eyes of enemy agents.
* Similarly, ''Series/{{Hustle}}'' frequently includes spontaneous modifications to existing plans in order to stop the entire elaborate con collapsing. More common during Danny Blue's brief stint as head of the crew, since improvisation is his forte. It does occur under Mickey Bricks as well, but less often; Mickey is more likely to have Plan B, C and D than an improvised change.
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'': Unlike earlier [[BigBad Big Bads]] who seemed to have Fate in their corner always dropping events in their favor, Volume 5 BigBad Samuel Sullivan has a general master plan but is also frequently forced to adjust when unexpected events unfavorable to his scheme pop up.
* ''Series/WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'' Justin wants an Alex-proofing monster for his room but because of [[WhatAnIdiot Max]] he has to use a computer for a brain instead of [[{{squick}} something else]]. Frankengirl captures Alex and is then outsmarted by her, so Justin resets Frankengirl into a clingy BFF. It only takes a few minutes for Alex to turn Frankengirl into her SidekickExMachina. Justin eventually wins though, [[spoiler:by turning Frankengirl into a 'cheerleading fool' and then convincing her to drag Alex to the try outs. Apparently Alex is more afraid of being a cheerleader than a monster's captive.]] Justin hits three snags, but his original goal of keeping Alex out of his room is ultimately acomplished.
* ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess''. Both Xena and Gabrielle are particularly adept at this, it was even Lamp Shaded in the episode "A Day in The Life", where Xena is reluctant to re-use a trap from a previous episode.
** In addition to "A Day in The Life", Gabrielle shows a remarkable penchant for this in the series finale, when she [[spoiler: Uses a ladder as a means of acrobatically reaching a water tower, and putting out a massive fire that was destroying the town of Higuchi]].
** The show is basically made of these. Xena: Warrior Princess, is also Xena: Queen of Xanatos Speed Chess.
** The Xena comic "Contest of Pantheons" also has a pretty note worthy moment on the part of [[spoiler: Callisto]], where she [[spoiler: Sees the army of Egyptian dead, infers that Anubis has stolen the power of the Greek god Hades, and kills Xena, to send her to the Underworld where she could defeat Anubis, and restore Hades to power]].
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. Similarily to Xena, Buffy has a talent for this, notably in the episode "Helpless" she [[spoiler: replaced the water in a Vampire's water bottle with holy water. When the Vampire took his painkillers with the holy water, it burned through, and killed him]].
* ''Series/{{Angel}}''. Both the Angel gang and [[OccultLawFirm Wolfram]] [[AmoralAttorney & Hart]] are very adept at this. For the first three seasons, Angel repeatedly stops Wolfram & Hart from committing some act of heinous evil or another, just to watch the evil machine keep on chugging along. They even congratulate him every now and then. [[spoiler: Eventually, he does manage to derail into their AncientConspiracy, if only temporarily]].
* ''Series/TheATeam'' spun wildly between this and GambitRoulette.
* On the Canadian crime drama ''Series/{{Intelligence 2006}}'', being skilled in this was apparently a job requirement to get into the Vancouver Organized Crime Unit.
* The entire series of ''Series/{{Alias}}'' could be seen as one extensive game of Xanatos Speed Chess between [[BigBad Arvin]] [[AffablyEvil Sloane]] and [[GuileHero Jack]] [[MagnificentBastard Bristow]], encompassing thirty years of national security, the entire global intelligence community, two generations of their respective families, and the [[DoubleReverseQuadrupleAgent many shifting loyalties]] of [[WildCard Irina]] [[MagnificentBitch Derevko]]. It's capped by one of the best [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Crowning Moments of Awesome]] ever:
-->'''Jack''': [[spoiler: ''(to a captured, but immortal Sloane)'' You beat death, Arvin. But you couldn't beat me. ''(presses detonator)'']]
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-XJyk6qIos&feature=related Watch the scene]], for maximum enjoyment.
* In ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'', there's a game of Xanatos Speed Chess going on between [[BigBad Ryubee Sonozaki]] and [[EvilMentor Shroud]] going on throughout the series, both trying to work around the plans of the other. [[spoiler: Shroud ultimately wins by sending [[SpannerInTheWorks Shotaro]] to ruin his plan.]]
* ''The Kill Point'' is basically eight straight hours of this (well, OK, seven hours of this and one hour of VillainousBSOD). Creator/JohnLeguizamo leads a team of bank robbers who end up taking hostages when their plan goes bad. He spends the rest of the series cooking up no less than three separate escape plans, while stringing the hostage negotiator along.
* Annie in ''Series/{{Community}}'' episode [[Recap/CommunityS1E09Debate109 Debate 109]] is able to thwart an attempted BatmanGambit by [[spoiler: passionately kissing Jeff, causing him to drop Simmons.]]
* The Cranes from ''Series/{{Frasier}}'' are masters at this whenever they get into a tight situation (i.e., most episodes), as are Roz and Daphne. Granted, they frequently fail on a level or two by the end of the episode, but the skill and slickness with which they lie, manipulate events, think up new plans, and navigate a tangled thicket of cross-purposes and plot threads to keep everything running smoothly for 20 minutes of airtime is impressive to watch.
* Emily Thorne from ''Series/{{Revenge}}'' spends her days manipulating people into manipulating each other, but when this doesn't always go to plan, Emily will adjust her plans accordingly. In the second season episode ''Penance'', no less than three people go rogue on her (two of which do so in order to commit homicide). She adjusts her scheme mid-episode without breaking stride, and still comes out getting exactly what she wanted all along.
* The third season finale and basically the entirety of Season 4 of ''Series/BreakingBad'' is one long game of this between [[BigBad Gus]] and [[VillainProtagonist Walt]].
* Alfred Bester, in the fourth season of ''Series/BabylonFive'', implemented a plan involving Michael Garibaldi that was basically a big one of these mixed with GambitRoulette (several factors not under Bester's control worked in his favor, as he later admitted). The goal? [[spoiler:Finding the root of an anti-telepath conspiracy, so that the Psi Corps could deal with it.]]
* The entirety of Season 3 of ''Series/{{Scandal}}'' is either this crossed with a BatmanGambit or a GambitRoulette on behalf of [[spoiler:Command/Rowan/Eli Pope]], depending on [[spoiler:how much he could have anticipated given his access to all of B613's intelligence. There's also some ambiguity over how much he instigated versus how much he took advantage of. Regardless, he certainly got what he wanted by the season's end: [[BookEnds his daughter got on that plane]], the President owes him and is unlikely to interfere with B613 ever again, his most troublesome agent is out of the picture, and he got to torment his terrorist wife and kill her lover.]]
* In ''Series/HouseOfCardsUS'', [[VillainProtagonist Frank Underwood]] has a ritual involving rapping his knuckles on his desk before leaving a room, representing a combination of preparation (building calluses on your knuckles in case of a fight) and luck (knocking on wood). This trope is intentionally his entire philosophy on political maneuvering.
* In ''Series/TheFlash2014'', Captain Cold has built this into his default approach to heists:
# Make the plan.
# Execute the plan.
# Expect the plan to go off the rails.
# Throw away the plan. \\\
He still aims to achieve the original goal, but never assumes that the details will survive the reality of the heist.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A good game master for nearly any TRPG knows how to do this with his/her games. While having a solid story to follow is important, not all players can pick up on cues and hooks that easily (and some like to deliberately jump off the rails) so a good amount of flexibility with the story keeps the game interesting and immersive to the players while avoiding undesirable {{Railroading}}.
* ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' God Cyric. His CrowningMomentOfAwesome and claim to master of Xanatos Speed Chess comes during a Trial where the other gods claim he is unfit for his duty as Greater God of Strife, Lies, Murder, and other nasty things due his (fake) holding of the IdiotBall for years. The thing is, Cyric SET UP the trial as a way to get the gods to bow down and worship him through use of the Cyrinishad, his book of evil that convinced anyone, god or mortal, that Cyric was the greatest god ever and only true god. When his lackey failed to get the Cyrinishad on time and had the wrong book, Cyric immediately had two other ways of assuring he would win the Trial. And he did. One was the aforementioned lackey being made into a demi-god of lies, even though he couldn't tell a single lie due to a curse from the goddess of magic. Cyric said this made him perfect, because the best lie is the most unbelievable truth, once again showing Cyric is a Xanatos master. Oh, and he also gained the loyalty of an EldritchAbomination during the course of all this and tends to threaten his enemies with the thing occasionally.
** More like losing and calling it winning. Bane's the real master. He, Bhaal, and Myrkul all had backup plans in the event of the failure of their gambits during the Time of Troubles. Bane didn't bother with mortal progeny (Bhaal) or depositing his essence in an artifact (Myrkul)--he created a demigod child to inherit his mantle. Even said child didn't know he was a glorified chrysalis--when he grew sufficiently powerful, Bane erupted from within him like a horrible, horrible butterfly. The Lord of Darkness was back in business, baby!
* The galaxy of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' is the chessboard for a four-way free-for-all game of Xanatos Speed Chess between Tzeentch, the Deceiver, the Eldar farseers, and the Emperor, with a few others dabbling on the side. All players involved are very, very good at it.
** It's probably worthwhile to note that, at the same time as all those groups work against each other, Tzeentch is playing an additional 1000 games of Speed Chess against himself, and at least 100 more against each of the other Chaos Gods. When you have literally thousands of Gambit Roulettes in action all at the same time (and almost all of them are solely because you love doing it), you tend to have to do a bit of multitasking. Then again, Tzeentch IS the MagnificentBastard, and also insane. Or, possibly worse, very ''very'' sane. Interestingly, he is the only player in this four way game who ''cannot'' win. Because then he would have no one else to play against...
* Anybody who has ever played the group strategy game Mafia/Werewolf as a bad guy has had to attempt this. A detailed original plan NEVER goes off without problems.
* Pretty much all Cheapass Games work this way, with other players (and pure randomness) changing conditions so fast that any strategy has to adapt just as fast. Looney Labs games (''TabletopGame/{{Fluxx}}'', ''TabletopGame/{{Chrononauts}}'') are similar.
* TabletopGame/{{Chess}}, of course. Under a time control of 1 minute for the entire game, the only way to make your moves quickly enough is to choose a move because it is the most active move that stops the opponents threats.
* Any and every CCG or competitive boardgame ever. There's always that one person who whips out with "WTF" strategies that can and will throw the group off guard.
* The strategy game Hellgame runs on this trope. Not only do each player control three characters, positioned in different places in the turn order (so a player can be both the first and the last to act in a single turn), this turn order can be manipulated by the playing of cards. Random events abound; every turn begins with a random event (which can in turn cause other random events to occur, or put down triggers which cause them to happen later, often several times), and a typical spell causes random events to happen to other players (or yourself). Combat is resolved by die rolls, often modified by spell cards and said random events. A player can seem to be unstoppable, only for a completely harmless-looking opponent to suddenly jump to the end of the turn order to cut of the expected victory and grab it for himself, only for _another_ player to do the same, and then some. A game can last a single turn, or ten; which is in no way an indication of the elapsed time of the game. Successfully wading through this sea of random happenstances and quirky rules, battling the other players (five of them) for supremacy over the turn order is the path to victory.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' sets the [[PlayerCharacters PCs]] up with mutually conflicting goals, then throws rapid-fire obstacles at them along the way. One suggested game mechanic is to ask each PC "What are you doing?", then only give them about five seconds to answer:
--> '''Friend Gamemaster:''' Okay, you've just been dropped off in Outdoors Sector. Suddenly, some people appear at the top of a hill, charging down toward you with long pointy sticks. *to PC #1* What are you doing?\\
'''PC #1:''' Uh, what do these people look like?\\
'''Friend Gamemaster:''' Dirty smelly Infrareds with ragged uniforms. One of them sticks his long pointy stick into your chest. *to PC #2* What are ''you'' doing?\\
'''PC #2:''' *realizing that PC #1 just dropped the team's camera* I shove PC #3 toward them.\\
'''PC #3:''' Hey!
* Most (but by no means all) theater-style American [[{{LARP}} live-action roleplaying games]] are designed to be Xanatos Speed Chess tournaments.
* Online freeform roleplaying combat at a high level is this; prima makes their attack, secunda makes a response that is nigh-unavoidable, prima has to respond and try and take back momentum, and so on back-and-forth until someone runs out of moves to make. It's fun!
* The ''TableTopGame/{{Munchkin}}'' card game has some of this, too, especially in epic games with high levels and four or more players. Given that the official time limit for interfering in seemingly successful Combat rounds is "a reasonable amount of time (defined as 2.6 seconds)," things can get a bit... hectic, when players are trying to aid/hinder another player's efforts, ''especially'' the final level(s).
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' is powered by this trope, especially in tournament play. Control mirrors are dozens of turns of this, with each player pretending they had it planned all along.
** Actually averted the better one gets at the game- there's a limit to how much strategies can be modified without bending one's deck and game out of shape. Good play is more like using this trope to back up a straight BatmanGambit.
** This is the only way to play the card game ''Fluxx'', because the rules of play and victory conditions are constantly changing.
* Classes with the Leader role from ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' 4th Edition lend themselves to this style of play, especially Warlords. Generally, they employ subtle long-term buffs that shape their team's playstyle combined with dramatic short-term buffs that let them compensate for surprises that upset their planning. Given the right player and a good DM, battles can be fascinating affairs.
** In 5th edition, rogues gain the ability to engage in a variety of normally full-action maneuvers using a bonus action each round, while other classes can almost never use their bonus action for anything other than slightly enhancing their main or move action. In the hands of even a moderately savvy player this makes the rogue the speed-chess champion, able to switch targets, change formation, and (with the appropriate specialization) even alter the playing field at the drop of a hat once the original tactics fall through.
* While theoretically Go involves XanatosGambit\s, occasionally players will play unexpected moves, or will misread situations. This will lead to their opponent having to rapidly adapt. Some professional players have this as their style; being good enough to adapt while capitalising on their opponents more orthodox playstyles, essentially being both the SpannerInTheWorks and then playing XanatosSpeedChess.

* ''Theatre/CyranoDeBergerac'': Cyrano is good at this in Acts II and III, but he cannot fool Christian nor Roxane in Act IV. However, he manages to fool Roxane again in Act V:
-->'''Roxane:''' On his brow he bears the genius-stamp;\\
He is proud, noble, young, intrepid, fair...\\
'''Cyrano:''' (''rising suddenly, very pale'') [[DespairEventHorizon ''Fair!'']]\\
'''Roxane:''' Why, what ails you?\\
'''Cyrano:''' Nothing; 'tis... (''he shows his hand, smiling'') This scratch!

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'': Makuta didn't take the rescue of the Matoran of Metru Nui into account, though managed to get past that. When part of his plan called for leaving his body, he didn't expect it to be destroyed by the end, but he still managed to keep his plan going smoothly, [[spoiler: [[GrandTheftMe taking over]] [[AGodAmI Mata Nui's body]] and the Matoran World within it at the end of 2008's arc]]. While he did account for the fact that Mata Nui could die from his actions in sending him to sleep, he didn't expect it to actually happen, but he got around that as well by relying on the Toa to bring him back before it was past the point of no return [[spoiler:which even played into his hands by letting him sneak his soul into Mata Nui's body before his own spirit could properly reunite with it]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Most multiplayer games that have an element of strategy end in this when played competitively. As it's bound to happen when you pit several experienced strategists against each other, the match often turns into a battle of dismantling the enemy plan while you repair and protect yours, while they do the same to you, only ending when someone gets hit with a [[SpannerInTheWorks big enough spanner]] and can't recover in time.
* Lord Recluse of ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' is made of these. The protection over his city fortress of evil alone is nothing short of impressive; it has a mile high wall, reinforced city base, a psychic monitoring network, an army of super-villains, EliteMooks and an island of nuclear warheads; And if any one of those isn't enough he uses the other five. What's more even when every single one of those is pushed to the limit he still manages to improvise. "Rival" (and that is putting it charitably) Villain, Nemesis has a bad case of ComplexityAddiction but even he has no luck breaking in, Two-Hundred some odd evil schemes via rivals can be undone by a hand-full of just-in-cases Lord Recluse keeps for blanket emergencies. And on top of all that he still recognizes that ThePlayerIsTheMostImportantResource, hence why he recruits player villains to his side to engage in their own Xanatos Speed Chess for said situations.
** "Ha ha, I shall invade your city and be the new king of evil" - "Mile high wall with attack turrets"
** "What if I tunnel under the city with my drill tipped transport pods?" - "Reinforced city basin."
** "Hmm perhaps but what if I bribe your own people to let me in?!" - "[[SecretPolice Thought Police]] kept loyal by their own psychic hive-mind."
** "Okay... [[RefugeInAudacity What if I build a machine that lets me travel through your TV screens]]?!" - "[[CrazyPrepared TV Broadcast is alive, it will tell us if anything is up]]" No, really.
* In ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', each faction has someone playing this as the rogue piece -- the player -- changes the board every step of the way. One could say that the villains are most adept at this, but of course they lose in the end and really their situation is more along the lines of planning out a dozen or so [[OutGambitted counters to any foreseeable action]]. The nominal good guys, on the other hand, actually have to make it up as they go.
** The only faction that refuses to play the game are [[spoiler:the Omar]] in [[VideoGame/DeusExInvisibleWar the second game]]. Their strategy is based around waiting for [[spoiler:the day they'll replace humanity as the dominant species through natural selection -- though by the end this only becomes possible if you kill all the other conspiracies that would supplant or exterminate them.]]
*** It could be argued that they're playing the game as well, especially from the point of view of their ending. [[spoiler:Their fair and helpful dealing with the player through the entire game? Laying the groundwork to put him (or her) in the right place at the right time. The recruitment of (and eventual modification of) Leo? Setting up a pawn close enough to the player to influence their decision at the proper time. Leo refusing the final upgrade? With as much modification has already been completed, how can he (or you) truly know for sure whether or not he still retains any free-will at all? By seemingly rejecting their offer and asking for your help, Leo becomes the ONLY character in the entire game who is seemingly both free of outside influence as well as complicated plots or goals of his own - putting him in a perfect position to offer advice without the player looking for an ulterior motive (thus making him the perfect way for the Omar to influence the player without their knowledge). Note that's it's LEO'S advice at the crucial moment that convinces you to kill every faction (thus killing off every hope of stablizing society and eliminating the only real threats to eventual Omar hegemony). By following the advice of the man who is quite possibly an Omar puppet, you guarantee Omar victory]]. It might sound like too far-fetched and overly complex a gambit to even remotely be true - until you remember you're basically playing a game which is almost entirely built around the idea that most conspiracy theories are real, the fate of the entire world is regularly decided by insanely complex plots, and that the more insane a plot seems, the more likely it is to have been true the entire time. [[spoiler:Both Billie and Klara were deliberately recruited by other factions, and both were used in attempts to influence Alex's actions. Did you honestly believe that Leo's cultivation by the Omar was a coincidence?]]
* This is the favored sport of ''VideoGame/YggdraUnion'''s Nessiah.
* In ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberiumWars'', Kane's complex GambitRoulette is threatened multiple times by the actions of GDI, the Scrin, or [[VillainousBreakdown HIS OWN FORCES!]] However, he's still [[MagnificentBastard Kane]], so he has the player character iron out all the wrinkles in his plan. And by "iron out", I generally mean obliterate.
** And even when things don't work out, he has proven time and again that he is [[spoiler: practically immortal, being able to resurface after things like a [[KillSat Ion Cannon]] strike on the head.]]
** And in ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianTwilight'', [[spoiler:he finally got what he wanted, and so is the tactical victor of the Tiberium wars, even if it took him like 70-80 years and the blood of bilions to reach the victory]].
* ''VideoGame/SystemShock'': SHODAN, artificial intelligence and MagnificentBastard, always has a backup plan.
** In the first game, SHODAN's plan amounts to this (backup plans listed after initial plans):
*** [[spoiler: Destroy life on Earth using the space station's mining laser, so she can remake life in her image. The player responds by destroying the laser.]]
*** [[spoiler: Conquer earth by unleashing the (biological) virus she created to transform everyone into her servants. The player responds by jettisoning the part of the station which was incubating the virus.]]
*** [[spoiler: Transmit herself to Earth (she is an AI). The player responds by blowing up the station's antennae.]]
*** [[spoiler: Crash the station into Earth, to unleash the virus that way. The player responds by setting the station to self-destruct.]]
*** [[spoiler: Eject the station's bridge, which houses her mainframe. The player responds by gaining access to the bridge and manually purging her from the computers.]]
** The second game originates from the player's actions in the first game. [[spoiler: The incubator that the player jettisons in the first game is discovered and found to be overrun by SHODAN's spawn... and SHODAN herself had a backup on the computers. This probably happened by chance, however, and not through SHODAN's plan.]] SHODAN acts more as a ManipulativeBastard in the sequel, however, manipulating the player with less of a multi-tiered plan. At the start of the game, the player is one of her few resources, but by the end she's clawed her way back up and is on the brink of literal near-omnipotence.
* Xemnas in the ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' series is very good at this. There are many points where things do NOT go exactly as planned for him...and yet he always seems to quickly make whatever happens work in his favor. [[spoiler: Sora won't comply to aid you? Use his Nobody Roxas instead. Roxas gains a will of his own? Use a Sora clone that can absorb power from Roxas, and if that's successful then mass produce them. The clone develops a will of ''its'' own? Make Roxas and it fight each other to the death, and use the one that's left. Roxas disappears? Then go back to Sora and manipulate him into helping you without knowing it. Sora finds out about this? Kidnap his LoveInterest and force him to keep fighting Heartless for you. All of this fails and you're destroyed? Have a way prepared to come BackFromTheDead in a fashionable black and white coat and do them in when they're weakened.]] Truly, Xemnas is a master Xanatos speed chess player.
** He probably gets it from Master Xehanort. [[spoiler:Wanna know about the Keyblade Wars? Recreate them. Need someone to turn into the X-Blade for you? Grab some orphan no one will miss. Orphan not quite what you need, but it's too late to drop him? Cut his heart in half and see if that works. Getting on in years and the plan's not quite done? Find some UnwittingPawn to commit GrandTheftMe on. Pawn, orphan, and their [[SpannerInTheWorks spanner-friend]] wise up to all this? Lure them to your home turf and take them out that way.]] It's actually ''way'' more complicated than even that, but this guy is [[CrazyPrepared on top of ALL OF IT]].
*** Perhaps it should be renamed "Xehanort Speed Chess"?
*** Considering that in the secret ending of Re:Coded, [[OldMaster Master Yen-Sid]] tells King Mickey straight-out that he fully does not expect Xehanort to stay dead, that [[NiceJobBreakingItHero destroying both of his halves makes his return possible,]] implies that [[ThePlan Xehanort probably planned for this to happen]], and then [[LampshadeHanging flat-out says]] that if he knows Xehanort, there's probably even more plans in plase, ''just to make sure''... which Xehanort confirms [[spoiler: while conversing with Terra inside his heart after taking him over]] at the beginning of the BBS secret ending "Blank Points".
*** The ending of Dream Drop Distance takes this UpToEleven. [[spoiler:As it turns out, that [[ChekhovsGunman weird hooded guy from the very beginning of the first game that you forgot about because he apparently had no purpose]]? Xehanort's Heartless who travels from the future to the past in order to kick the whole thing off. Literally ''everything'' factored into Xehanort's plans, except [[ThePowerOfFriendship Sora, Riku and some of the Organisation members being too difficult to brainwash]]. Even then, he works around it seamlessly, finding suitable substitutes and carrying on with his master plan without batting an eyelash. Oh, and the reason he's doing any of this in the first place? He essentially [[TemporalParadox ''went back in time and convinced his younger self to do it'']].]]
** And then there's [=DiZ=] [[spoiler:AKA Ansem the Wise]], who might be, perhaps, just as good - he was, after all, taking on the Organization, headed by Xemnas, and he was winning. In fact, at least at the end of Chain of Memories (and, one could argue, even the end of Days), everything was going pretty much according to plan. In the end, the only thing that toppled him was his own arrogance causing him to bite off more than he could chew (something which he admits [[spoiler:to the King, just before his HeroicSacrifice, as well as in the Secret Reports]]) and the fact that, consequently, his game became a GambitRoulette. Like Xehanort and Xemnas, he lost track of all the players - Sora isn't anywhere close to being a Speed Chesser, but he's rather effective as a SpannerInTheWorks, and Riku's just as bad, since [=DiZ=] isn't as able to predict his actions as he'd like to think he is. Couple this with the fact that his cynicism and bitterness were pretty much ''incapable'' of predicting [[TheHero Sora's]] idealistic, selfless heroism, and by the end of it all, even he had to admit he'd lost the game.
* Though it's hard to tell what he's thinking, Jon Irenicus in ''VideoGame/BaldursGateII'' seems to do this. His original plan is simply to experiment on Imoen and the player character in his own personal lair. However, this runs into trouble when Shadow Thieves attack him, his prisoners escape and, on top of all of this which he could have handled simply by virtue of his great power, the local wizard authorities get wind of the unsanctioned use of magic and teleport in to arrest him. Killing hundreds of them is not the path of least resistance even for him, so he suddenly decides to go peacefully, but making sure they also arrest Imoen. They are both taken to a wizard asylum, [[spoiler:which Irenicus soon takes over, continuing his experiments with Imoen and waiting for the player character to come after him.]] The player character already has two potential motives for doing this - wanting revenge on Irenicus and to rescue their "little sister" - but a third one is added when Irenicus somehow appears in their dreams and speaks of [[spoiler:unlocking their potential as a descendant of a god, speaking as if the player character could gain great power though he really has no interest in giving it to them but rather just stealing it away. Unless that's just the Bhaal in you talking and not Irenicus at all.]] (This is also, in a way, the game masking its ButThouMust plot element. You ''have'' to go after Irenicus and Imoen, but at least you get to pick your motivation out of a fair selection.) The player may make various choices along the way and [[spoiler:choose to ally or not with two characters who are actually Irenicus's pawns, but the end result is the same - in a non-contrived way - and they end up just where Irenicus wants them.]]
** Also [[spoiler:Amelissan]], the BigBad in the expansion. She's playing the Five and all the Bhaalspawn against each other to destroy all, and when the player character appears literally out of nowhere, rather than letting them mess up her plans she immediately turns them into her principal pawn. Of course, [[XanatosGambit if the PC failed to kill one of the others, she'd just have got rid of the PC and could go on with her other tools as planned before]]. Of course, this has the unintended side effect of singling out and even training for herself an opponent more powerful than all the others...
* Sarah Kerrigan of ''VideoGame/StarCraftBroodWar'' plays Xanatos Speed Chess. She allies with the Protoss by brainwashing the Matriarch Raszagal and helps them kill some rogue Zerg opposing her, and when she kills off the member of their group that was getting wise to her schemes she takes off laughing as they realize they've been played. She then recruits Raynor and Fenix to rescue the Dominion emperor Mengsk from the UED, uses the three of them to destroy the UED's main bases of operations, then backstabs them and kills Fenix and Mengsk's general leaving the two demoralized and de-powered. She then kidnaps the Protoss Raszagal and uses her to blackmail her co-commander Zeratul into giving her access to special assassins that will kill the Zerg hivemind and leave her in complete control of them. By the end, Kerrigan plays ''all'' of her enemies against each other, weakening them in turn while she accumulates power for herself to the point that [[WordOfGod the developers]] said in materials for ''VideoGame/StarCraftII'' she basically could have wiped all of them out at the end of the game, but chose not to.
** It's been implied more than once that Samir Duran in turn manipulated ''her'' into working towards ''his'' endgame. So he's at the very least capable of keeping up with her Speed Chess.
* [[WellIntentionedExtremist Sephiran]] of ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn]]'', to a lesser extent [[MagnificentBastard Lekain]] of the same game.
** Still not sure if Bastian is utilizing this trope or [[GambitPileup another one...]]
** It's somewhat implied that [[spoiler:while devious himself, Lekain was mostly just Sephiran's pawn. Sephiran, on the other hand, has been playing chess since before Ashera went to sleep.]]
* When the Dark Elf steals one of the four Crystals of Light in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', Golbez kidnaps Rosa, forcing Cecil and his party to go get the crystal in exchange for her life.
* Kuja from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'' had no less than ''two'' of these. First, it's revealed that his entire plan was revolved around stealing Alexander, the most powerful of all Eidolons (summon monsters). This fails when [[BigBad his boss]] shows up and blows it to hell. Panicked, his next plan involves using the protagonists to fetch a powerful stone for him and extracting other, lesser summon spirits from a little girl. This fails when her Moogle guardian [[TakeALevelInBadass goes Trance]] and proceeds to kick ass. Kuja then changes his plans AGAIN in order to gain his own Trance power. Kuja finally achieves this and proceeds to [[TheStarscream kill his former boss]]. It's too bad that he learns that he's going to die soon anyway, prompting the mother of all [[VillainousBreakdown Villainous Breakdowns]].
* ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' has Rachel Alucard and Hazama/Terumi Yuuki who are playing Speed Chess against each other with the fate of the world on the line. ''Calamity Trigger'' involved gathering the pieces, with the game proper beginning in ''Continuum Shift'', with extra rounds shown in ''Extend''. While Terumi's record is impeccable, ''Extend'' reveals a scorch mark that keeps it from being unwavering - this mark was left not by Rachel, but by [[SpannerInTheWorks Makoto]], who fell on the board due to Terumi's own machinations against her. Undoubtedly, Rachel is factoring this into her future plans...
** And in the sequel, Chronophantasma, The Imperator quickly cancels out [[spoiler: Kagura's entire game's worth of planning a rebellion by resigning from the position and naming a successor, throwing most of the NOL into confusion and dissention.]]
* In ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare2'', [[spoiler: General Shepherd]] proves to be a mean player of this. Sure, he didn't expect [[spoiler: Price]] to [[spoiler: fire a nuke at Washington D.C.]], but he capitalized on it ''very'' quickly in the subsequent cutscene; before [[spoiler: the nuke even hits, he's already convinced the Secretary of Defense that the nuke was fired by Makarov, and gets government approval to track Makarov down with what is essentially a blank check.]]
* Happens in ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'' whenever two AI's go up against each other, perhaps the most epic instance being Durandal vs Tycho in ''Marathon 2''. Durandal pretty much always ''eventually'' wins.
* The Reapers of ''Franchise/MassEffect'' aren't bad at this. Their original plan (which has worked for millions of years), [[spoiler: is to let civilizations grow using the Citadel and mass relays. They then use these to harvest every space faring civilization.]] Here are the adjustments they've had to make:
** Ancient race, the [[spoiler:Protheans]], disabled a system in the [[spoiler:Citadel]] integral to their plans so they indoctrinated the [[spoiler:rachni]] and started a war, hoping to capture the [[spoiler:Citadel]] and manually activate it.
** [[spoiler:Krogan]] wiped out said species? Try again with the Geth.
** Shepard defeated Sovereign and put the kibosh on that plan? [[spoiler: Kill him/her, try and recover the corpse, then build a human Reaper to take Sovereign's place.]]
** Shepard came [[spoiler:Back from the Dead]], killed your servants, and destroyed the [[spoiler:human reaper]], Sovereigns future replacement? Fine, get everyone to the Alpha Relay. Oh, and use indoctrinated servants to capture Shepard, so you can turn him/her to your side.
** Shepard escaped capture and [[spoiler:took out the Relay]]? No matter, that only delays the invasion a few months anyway.
** Once in the galaxy, brutally attack Earth and Khar'Shan immediately and hopefully take out Shepard. Even if Shepard survives, humanity gets crippled right at the start. All your other preparations can proceed as planned either way.
** Presumably, their adjustments to the plan are so ideal that by their arrival proper - assuming Shepard doesn't stop them - people expect the Reaper invasion to finish quicker than the last time it happened, where things did go according to plan. All the past wars they created had left the galaxy divided and much easier to defeat than in the previous cycle.
* This is part of what makes Malefor from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfSpyro'' such an effective ChessMaster. Spyro turns out to be alive and frees TheDragon from his control? [[spoiler:Trick Cynder into luring Spyro to the Well of Souls and freeing him.]] In fact, taking Cynder in the first place may have been an adjustment in response to [[spoiler:Spyro's egg not being present at the Dragon Temple.]]
* Surprisingly for an educational game, Malicia from ''VideoGame/TheClueFinders Reading Adventures''. She kidnaps Leslie and Santiago at the start of the game, and later on it's revealed [[spoiler: She was posing as the princess to get the [=ClueFinders=] to find and assemble the Amulet of Life for her. When that failed and she grabbed the wrong one, she still got Joni and Owen to come to her with the amulet anyways since she still held their friends hostage.]] It's even lampshaded in a cutscene...
--> "Why would they give you what you want?"
--> "Because I have what they want...'''you'''."
* Emperor Mateus from Final Fantasy II. His plans begin with simply wanting to take over the world and whenever the heroes cause him trouble, he drives them back with rapidly escalating methods of destruction or clever scemes. The heros barely get a moment to savour a current victory before he turns it around on them. He even dodges [[spoiler:death by splitting his soul in half,]] because now he wants heaven and hell too.
* Toshimi Tagami, from ''Ghost in the Shell'' on the [=PS2=]: Her plans begin with high political intrigue to gain a region it's independence all for her brother's cause, and when section 9 shows up to throw in some spanners, she quickly switches gears and manipulates the lot of them to get her way in the end. Even [[spoiler:her death didn't stop it.]]
* In the third ''VideoGame/MegaManStarForce'' game, [[spoiler:Heartless' plan to betray King is potentially ruined when Jack and Tia confront him ahead of schedule. However, she adapts her plans nigh-flawlessly and pulls it off anyway, while also saving Jack and Tia from their impending doom.]]
* [[GovernmentConspiracy The Patriots]], at least by the time of VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty, take this level of planning to an artform. Raiden's entire mission, every small victory, every ostensible moment of cleverness was in fact scripted by the organization well in advance, leaving no room for escape or resistance - suicide or failure is not an option, as they took hostage and wired loved ones to his vitals. [[AntiVillain Solidus]]'s plan to regain control from them was in fact doomed from the beginning - he was to be killed by his "son" in much the same way they arranged for Solid Snake to kill Big Boss. Even the information he would've retrieved from Raiden's cerebral cortex turned out to be bunk, in the end. Understandable for [[spoiler:an international cabal of superintelligent AIs several leaps above humanity.]]
* Scarecrow in ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamKnight'' is [[TheChessmaster very good at this]]. He seemingly has a backup plan every time it seems Batman has foiled him. He neutralizes the giant fear toxin bomb, but Scarecrow has another. He overcomes Scarecrow's gas, and Scarecrow uses [[spoiler:Barbara]] to further his plan. [[spoiler:This is why, in the end, he becomes the first ever Batman villain in any media to ever unmask him to the world]].

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''
** Kotomine has a pretty good one of these in Heavens Feel. Plan A: start with sending Lancer to figure out who everyone is, where they are and how strong. [[spoiler:Crap, after roflstomping True Assassin he got his heart pulled out and eaten.]] Ok, uh, well we still have Gilgamesh, and he's pissed about the serial killings going on. [[spoiler:Damnit, he got eaten too.]] Fine, we'll set up [[spoiler:Sakura, the monster eating everyone]] to turn into the gate and destroy the world. Uh oh, the [[MacGuffinTurnedHuman Core of the Grail]] just got hijacked, time to [[EnemyMine team up with Shirou to recover it.]] Oops, True Assassin came after him and humans can't kill Servants with the tools he has. [[spoiler:Guess we'll destroy Zouken's body, using my fake heart as a decoy and ''then'' drive off Assassin.]] Woops, the Grail doesn't like me and [[spoiler: just destroyed my heart.]] And, breaking the narration, he still makes it to the end of the path and ''still'' nearly unleashes a plan that is in fact ''much worse'' than the scale of what he was trying in the first two. Plus, Shirou's ideology has been neatly discarded, and Kotomine really hated it.
** Archer's plan in "Unlimited Blade Works". His repeated gambits to [[spoiler:kill Shirou and set up either himself and Rin or a Rin/Saber team as the winners of the Grail War by playing Caster, Kotomine and the protagonists against each other]] are truly inspired.
* Maou from ''VisualNovel/GSenjouNoMaou'' has a gift for revising convoluted plans on the fly, being an expy of [[Anime/CodeGeass Lelouch]], which is how he keeps beating the protagonists, even until the very end.
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' wouldn't be interesting if it were not for the ability of every opponent to counter your arguments. Add the fact that frequent surprise evidence tends to shock all parties forces everyone to reconsider their plan on a regular basis and you've got a wild ride.
* In the very first scene of ''VisualNovel/CodeRealize'', Literature/ArseneLupin lectures [[Literature/FromTheEarthToTheMoon Impey]] on how a great thief requires a plan, the patience to pull it off - and the nerve to go all in and wing it when the first two elements fall short. There is a ''lot'' of on-the-fly improvisational scheming going on throughout the game, especially on the occasions in which Lupin and [[SherlockHomage Sholmes]] match wits with one another.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'': Cinder's plans largely involve simply setting up as many things in her favor as possible, and then moving quickly when things start to fall apart. She witnessed a thief steal a necklace; she recruited her for her [[MasterOfIllusion interesting Semblance]]. She went to recruit a world-famous assassin but found [[SelfMadeOrphan his son had already killed him]] for [[AbusiveParents being an abusive drunk]]; she recruited the son instead. She tried to have [[TheHeartless the Grimm]] attack when the city was undefended but the attack went off too early; she joined in the defense, then tried again a few months later.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* The leader of a team of magical thieves in ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors'' starts off with a straightforward plan to rob a hospital of valuable materials, but are continually stymied by one lone surgeon defending the hospital. Elizabeth (the leader) continually adapts her plan towards a profitable solution even as all her teammates are taken out one at at time, and if it hadn't been for a slip-up she'd have still gotten away with it.
* [[TheChessmaster Parson]] gives the other characters a ''lecture'' on playing Xanatos Speed Chess in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0137.html this]] page of ''{{Webcomic/Erfworld}}''.
** [[TheChessmaster Charlie]], on the other hand, is more of a long-term planner and has significant trouble when planning against someone as nimble as Parson. While the normal kings in Erfworld are easy enough to manipulate on the fly, Parson regularly forces Charlie into suboptimal plans that backfire. Charlie is left dumbfounded and panicked when Parson sets off the Gobwin Knob volcano, and in spite of his dozen-turn set up for the battle of Spacerock loses to Parson's quick thinking and willingness to [[KillItWithFire very literally]] burn everything around him to the ground in order to win. Finally, in book three, both Parson and Charlie are left without any kind of long-term plan after Lillith the [[BackFromTheDead decrypted]] Archon is freed from captivity. Within the space of minutes in-universe, [[spoiler:Gobwin Knob loses its entire treasury; Parson is forced to turn; Jack the foolamancer tricks Charlie's forces into opening fire on Parson, refilling the treasury; Parson turns back to Gobwin Knob; Charlie sends an entire force of Archons on a suicidal revenge mission in a rage; the casters in the Magic Kingdom turn on both sides; and pretty much everyone is now embroiled in the conflict.]] However, after all of this, the only side that seems even slightly poised to prosper is Gobwin Knob, and Charlie's inflexibility is costing him in every sense.
** And demonstrates ([[IdiotBall Sort of?]]) his prowess... on the OTHER [[TheChessmaster Chess Master]], [[http://archives.erfworld.com/Book+2/18 here]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'': Sam Starfall wanted to get Florence into (and safely back out of) the heavily guarded campus of Ecosystems Unlimited, and maybe ''borrow'' some things while they're there. This means improvising and readjusting his plans when circumstances ask for it, like [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1700/fc01604.htm stuffing crickets in his pants]], [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1700/fc01669.htm releasing them into the fire detection system]], and [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1700/fc01682.htm creating a makeshift disguise]].
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Gil needs to get into the castle and have it be known that he did -- so his father knows, and doesn't attack it. His [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081103 plot to convince the crowd that he's Gilgamesh Wulfenbach]] convinces them that he's putting on a show. So -- he tells them they're right, and by this means lures them to the castle and breaks the truth them only there. (With some unexpected backup from his friends.)
** Additionally, in chapter 6, both Tarvek and Anevka Sturmvoraus seem to be playing Xanatos Speed Chess with each other for control of Sturmhalten and The Other, executing back up plan after back up plan. Tarvek even says in [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20060906 this strip]] that "None of this was in my original plan, but it's all working out so beautifully!"
** [[spoiler:[[FakeUltimateHero Zola]] [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Malfeazium]]]] is "''very good'' at improvising when things go wrong."
* Helen Narbon, of ''{{Webcomic/Narbonic}}'', is another case where the fanbase--and even the characters in the strip--are never fully certain if Helen is playing Xanatos Speed Chess, GambitRoulette, or if she's just luckier than anyone has any right to be. At several points, it seems Helen, herself, is not certain.
--> [[spoiler:'''Artie''': My last thought before blackout is this: That every aspect of my nature--my mind, my sense of ethics, the body in which I currently reside--seems, now, engineered for this moment, for shielding this woman from impact. I have never been able to fathom the disjointed workings of Helen's mind. Did she surmise that someday she would be in danger? Did she create me specifically to save her life? And, if she really can plan this far ahead, why couldn't she just find a way to avoid the whole stupid situation? I always knew I'd die with a headache.]]
** It doesn't help that some Sunday strips have suggested mad scientists may be able to see the future to a limited degree.
* The scene taken from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' to demonstrate speed chess is actually a poor example, being at best an aversion. Bun Bun is not actually manipulating events, he is simply moving dolls on a chessboard to reflect events outside his influence, a fact that enrages him when it's pointed out.
* This WebComic/{{XKCD}} strip: http://xkcd.com/433/
* The Sixth Doctor is a pro at this in ''Webcomic/The10Doctors'', where he repeatedly manipulates a group of Renegade Daleks to do his bidding -- even when circumstances around him are rapidly changing.
* In ''WebComic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', The High Priest of Hel [[spoiler:i.e the vampire spirit controlling Durkon's body]] is a crafty master at this. [[spoiler:When Roy didn't take a vague hint of the location of the Godsmoot, they were fortunate enough to meet one of the clerics going to the meeting. When Roy learned his true colors, the High Priest used both a BreakingSpeech and a protective spell to keep Roy at bay until the vote was complete. When the vote ended in a tie, he had a backup plan in the works to enable him to rig the vote, and had created a new High Priest to take his place so that Hel's vote would still count]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Literature/AssociatedSpace'', Fatebane's plan is constantly adjusting, due to the situation changing in almost every system he goes to.
* Literature/WhateleyUniverse:
** Chessmaster goes insane (well, ''further'' insane) when he loses a literal game of this.
** Subverted in Ayla 5, ''Ayla and the Networks''. The bad guys TRY for this, but since they can't play NEARLY as well as each other, it comes down to 'Crap! When she did that, Plans A-J can't work, and now K-Y are useless...'
** [[spoiler: Meanwhile, Ayla and Thurban are working a Vizzini Gambit/Xanatos Gambit. They'd won the game before a piece was played. Ayla's Laptops is useless, and the blackmail information is false!]]
** TheChessmaster does this in his massive Halloween attack. He even had a recovery plan that would have been perfect if [[spoiler: the best precognitive on the planet]] hadn't chosen that very second to [[spoiler:take over his communications system so he couldn't launch his recovery plan.]]
** The villain in "The Big Idea" tries to play this, but needless to say, ends up failing miserably.
** Jessie, in ''The Final Trump'', starts ''off'' with ASimplePlan, which is then continually adjusted due to the constant bumbling and interference of not one, but ''three'' nemeses. Being from a [[VillainProtagonist supervillain family]], her eventual success (and her willingness to share the wealth) earns her big props.
* The VillainProtagonist of ''Literature/TheSalvationWar'', Michael-lan, is a master of this trope.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'', Norm the Genie's plans usually work like this: In "Fairy Idol", when he comes second to Cosmo and Wanda, he hits them with a wrecking ball and he gets in first.
* Shockingly, Fry, from ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', pulls a simple version off in the fourth season episode "The Why of Fry." After his Scooty Puff, Jr. falls apart, he's trapped in The Infosphere with some gigantic brains that want to destroy the universe. Regardless, he activates a [[TechnoBabble Quantum Interface Bomb, trapping himself and the brains in an alternate dimension.]] The brains inform him that the Nibblonians, who he was acting on behalf of, were actually responsible for getting him frozen until the year 3000 in the first place, and enable him to return to the past in order to prevent it from ever happening. Thus returning, Fry briefly interrogates Nibbler in Applied Cryogenics, and, after Nibbler explains the situation, Fry agrees to allow his past self to freeze. He begins to disappear, and realizes he's on the verge of creating a time loop. Showing uncharacteristically quick thinking, he then tells Nibbler "[[spoiler:Just remember that the Scooty Puff, Jr. suuuucks]]!" It's simple, but for Fry's simple standards it was genius.
* [[TropeNamers David Xanatos]] himself does this in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' episode "Eye of the Beholder," as each of his plans to get the [[AppliedPhlebotinum Eye of Odin]] back from Fox go awry. Goliath's responses to the gradual deterioration of his Machiavellian plots are utterly hilarious: "I hope you have a 'Plan D'" and "Not a good night for you"... though Xanatos actually ''does'' come up with a Plan D, and it's one of the last things you'd ever expect: [[spoiler:telling the truth and asking Goliath and Elisa for help]].
** In "Upgrade" he and his wife Fox pit The Pack and the Manhattan clan against one another in a game of ''literal'' Xanatos Speed Chess, complete with an actual chessboard and pieces modeled after their respective teams.
* Alluded to in WesternAnimation/MaxSteel (which had the same developer as ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}''): Dragonelle was tasked with a mission, but the good guys manage to interfere and prevent their plan from being completely successful:
-->'''Dragonelle''': Sir, I take personal responsibility for the failure of Chaos Strike.
-->'''Dread''': Mmm, you're too hard on yourself, my dear. The great pyramid has been desecrated, and the explosion's left no evidence to trace the crime to us. Tensions in the region will rise, as planned. Besides, the test of the Dread probes was a qualified success, certainly more R&D is required. But I believe our ultimate victory is right at hand.
* Nerissa from ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' adjusts her season-long plan a few times, most notably in the season finale where she seizes an opportunity to free herself from TheStarscream's imprisonment and get the heroes under her control, while congratulating herself on coming up with such a great plan on the fly. [[spoiler: Too bad it's actually a LotusEaterMachine]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** The two-part episode "A Canterlot Wedding" features [[spoiler:Queen Chrysalis, the ruler of a race of shapeshifters called Changelings that feed off of ThePowerOfLove. Her evil plan is to disguise herself as Princess Cadance, marry the royal guard captain and Twilight's brother Shining Armor, and brainwash him into loving her, thereby not only providing a constant food source for her subjects, but also lowering Canterlot's defenses and paving the way for a full-scale invasion of Equestria. Twilight notices something amiss with the (fake) princess and calls her out on it? Chrysalis gets her kicked out of the wedding reception with a WoundedGazelleGambit and throws her in a dungeon while no one's looking. Twilight breaks out with the real Cadance and exposes the impostor to all, forcing her into a BeamOWar with [[PhysicalGod Princess Celestia]]? Chrysalis would be screwed, except she's absorbed enough love from Shining Armor to [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomp]] Celestia (keep in mind, even CHRYSALIS was surprised by the sheer POWER she had gained). Twilight and her friends seek out the Elements of Harmony to stop her? Chrysalis sends out a whole army of Changelings and captures them. Unfortunately for Chrysalis, this all leads up to a NearVillainVictory since she lets Cadance get close enough to Shining Armor to free him from his brainwashing and combine their powers to [[ATwinkleInTheSky blast Chrysalis and all her subjects over the horizon]]]].
** The Flim Flam brothers pull off a simpler one in "Leap of Faith". When Applejack finds out that the miracle tonic that Granny Smith bought from them was a fake, they don't even panic, cunningly convincing her not to reveal their secret as it would ruin the newfound confidence and happiness that Granny Smith has gained. They even capitalize on it when Applejack comments that the tonic 'seems to work for Granny' saying she approves it, causing everypony who trusts Applejack to continue buying it, while at the same time, striking a blow at Applejack's conscience.
** King Sombra in "The Crystal Empire" may be an AlmightyIdiot in the present (implicitly due to HulkingOut during his SealedEvilInACan period) -- unlike his CrazyPrepared past self -- but he's still lucid enough to foil Shining Armor's and Princess Cadance's attempts at being [[SpannerInTheWorks Spanners in the Works]]. First, he uses some of his PowerNullifier crystals to render Shining able to neither assist Cadance nor fight in his own right. Next, when Cadance barely reactivates her barrier and severs Sombra's horn before he can get in, he simply uses the fallen piece to indirectly re-corrupt the Crystal Empire -- not to mention how he can just regenerate another horn anyway. And then, when Spike -- an even-bigger Spanner -- catches his attention, Sombra just NoNonsenseNemesis-rushes him before he can capitalize on the VillainBeatingArtifact in his hands. [[spoiler:In the end, the good guys need a truly RefugeInAudacity-style IndyPloy (namely, Shining '''''using his own wife as a javelin'''''), one than just confounds Sombra too much for him to adjust to it in time.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfKorra'': Zaheer and the rest of the [[WellIntentionedExtremist Red Lotus]] straddle the line between this trope and the IndyPloy. Over the course of their tenure as villains, they seem to frequently change their plans on the fly, and generally succeed at whatever their newly improvised plan is....but they also display [[MissingStepsPlan a notable lack of foresight]], which ultimately leads to their defeat, and [[PyrrhicVillainy the group ultimately accomplishing the exact opposite of what they intended]] as a result. They exhibit great short-term planning, but [[DidntThinkThisThrough very flawed long-term planning]].
* In the season two finale of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'', after his original plan to become [[AGodAmI a god]] by [[BrainUploading uploading his mind]] into a copy of [[PowerCopying Ama]][[AdaptiveAbility zo]] is ruined by the core members of the Justice League and Amanda Waller, Lex Luthor quickly finds out that [[BodyAndHost Brainiac had been residing inside him for years]], [[PuppeteerParasite having his body taken over by the sinister computer brain]]. It's then that Luthor decides to take advantage of the situation, convincing Brainiac to join forces with him; the two of them merging together into '[[FanNickname Brainithor]]', with designs on absorbing all the information in the universe and remaking it.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The German strategist Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." This quote is usually used to mean that the victorious general is the one who is better at playing Xanatos Speed Chess. Molkte himself preferred being CrazyPrepared. Plan A will not survive first contact, so develop a Plan B for every single point of failure, then a fallback Plan C, and then develop some excess capacity in case none of your fifty plans are working.
* Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington:
-->"They planned their campaigns just as you might make a splendid piece of harness. It looks very well; and answers very well; until it gets broken; and then you are done for. Now I made my campaigns of ropes. If anything went wrong, I tied a knot; and went on."
* Sun Tzu's ''Literature/TheArtOfWar'' emphasizes the importance of adapting one's battle plans on the fly to adjust to sudden changes in battle.
-->"Those who win thanks to tactics adapted to different situations can be called Masters of War."
* Dwight D. Eisenhower
-->"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
* Joe Louis, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
* UsefulNotes/ErwinRommel, General in the [[UsefulNotes/NazisWithGnarlyWeapons Wehrmacht]] and the original MagnificentBastard, built his entire career and reputation on this. If he was ordered to take an objective he wouldn't just launch an attack and take it. He'd launch an attack and take it, then plan another attack to exploit any weaknesses he'd created, then plan ''another'' attack to exploit any ''more'' weaknesses he'd created, and keep on inventing new attack plans on the fly until the other side surrendered or his side quite ''literally'' ran out of gas.
** Rommel was not alone in this, as it was an integral part of Blitzkrieg as devised by Guderian and the German doctrine emphasized including subordinates into the plan so they could improvise on the spot or take over should you fall. This was a large part of German success on the tactical level. Of course there were Speed Chess players amongst other armies as well, but to the Germans it was an integrated part of their doctrine.
*** Most professional modern militaries use it these days: the standard format for issuing orders includes the larger context, ''why'' the orders are being issued and what the goal is. This allows junior officers (and troops) to be aware of the ultimate objective so that they can respond on the fly to changing conditions.
* The [[UsefulNotes/HistoryOfTheColdWar Cuban Missile Crisis]] and the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. Not just between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but internally between the hardliners and moderates of each government. Adaptation is of the highest priority if "chess" here is more defined as "a LensmanArmsRace that involves getting nuked into oblivion for the littlest mistake."
* It's unclear whether President [[MagnificentBastard Anwar Sadat]] of Egypt planned the [[UsefulNotes/ArabIsraeliConflict October War]] of 1973 (known as the Yom Kippur War in Israel and many other places) as one of these, or if his actions afterward were just a very successful IndyPloy, but either way, it turned out like this. The main Egyptian goal in '73 was recapturing the Sinai Peninsula (and, if possible, to destroy Israel), so Egypt launched an invasion across the Suez Canal on [[UsefulNotes/JewishHolidays Yom Kippur]], the one day when the UsefulNotes/IsraelisWithInfraredMissiles would be praying, fasting, and at services (Yom Kippur is the most significant Jewish 'holiday' as a day of repentance, remembrance, and introspection). This allowed Egyptian forces to retake a substantial proportion of the Sinai (until bad generalship screwed things up and allowed the IDF to push them back out), but the first few days were just enough of a victory that Sadat could claim just enough political capital to allow him to start peace negotiations with Israel...and get back the Sinai (if Israel and Egypt are at peace, Israel doesn't need the Sinai as a buffer). Whether he knew this all along or just took advantage of opportunities as they came up is unclear, but either way, it really was a win-win (until Sadat got an assassin's bullet to the head for his trouble...oh, well).
** You might argue that he could have just asked for peace. That would be wrong. It's questionable whether the Israelis would have accepted a peace deal had he offered it--despite official policy statements, some members of the Cabinet (e.g. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who famously said "Israel has no foreign policy--only defense policy") might not have been so willing to take the deal. Even assuming that the Israelis' rhetoric matched their intentions, there's the matter of whether the ''Egyptians'' would have accepted a deal; the 1967 War was a humiliating defeat, and it would be difficult to sell a peace agreement to his people and even to the other generals who ran the government--it would be regarded as giving in to Israel's holding Sinai hostage. Starting a war with Israel in which Egypt won substantial military victories early on was necessary to show that Egypt and Israel were on an equal footing militarily, allowing any deal with Israel to be an agreement of equals rather than blackmail. Once the war started and the early victories assured, however, the path to securing Sinai was assured--either by military conquest (with the final peace treaty saleable because Egypt would be the victor) or by negotiation (as part of a negotiated settlement after an armistice seen as honorable because both sides had bloodied each other enough to show rough parity).
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar general, George B. [=McClellan=]--subverted. He believed that victory went to the commander who outsmarted his enemy. [=McClellan=] was always trying to decide what old Lee would have done and then come up with a really elaborate counterstrike that would wreck his plans. But his methods led to a loss as to what the ''objective'' was, leading him to pass up opportunities where all that was needed was a direct attack following a plan no more complicated than "keep shooting until the other side is all dead".
** William T. Sherman's march through Atlanta was an example of Xanatos Speed Chess. His adversary, Joseph Johnston, was the finest defensive general that the Confederacy could field. Rather than attacking him outright, Sherman adopted maneuver tactics. Johnston would set up a defense, and Sherman would go around him. The one major assault Sherman launched, the Union was driven back. In the end, he won the game--the Confederate government got fed up, replaced Johnston with John Bell Hood, a "fighting" general... and Sherman whipped him quite soundly.
* All the great quarterbacks in UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball use this trope, often on multiple levels. First, every throwing play is designed to give the quarterback multiple players to throw the ball to; the QB is expected to go quickly through his progressions to see who is open. Second, many quarterbacks will try to read defenses before the ball is snapped, and if they think the play they are about to run will be ineffective, will audible to a different play. Third, some particularly mobile quarterbacks will decide to run with the ball; sometimes this is a last-ditch effort when nobody is open, but other times it is a core concept of an offense, since the threat of such runs can force defenses to devote defenders away from potential receivers in future plays. Fourth, quarterbacks will use body language, particularly where they're looking, to get defenders to move away from their actual intended play and open up opportunities elsewhere. And fifth, the ''really'' good quarterbacks will use ball placement and chemistry with their receivers to change the play ''mid-throw'', something generally referred to as "throwing your receiver open".