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Boris Yelnikoff (Larry David) is a Cynicism (contemporary) chess teacher and former University of Columbia professor in quantum mechanics. Divorced, he avoids human contact except for his friends (Michael McKean, Adam Brooks, Lyle Kanouse) and students, patronizing everyone he meets for not matching him intellectually. He spends much of the film washing his hands, all the while singing the "Happy Birthday" song—an attempt to gauge the proper length of time for the process.

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