Mikhail Chigorin

Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (Tchigorin) was born November 12 (October 31 Old Style), 1850 in Gatchina near St. Petersburg.   His grandfather was a soldier.  His father was a skilled workaman in the Okhtensk gunpowder works.

Chigorin’s parents died young and Mikhail entered the Gatchinsk Orphans’ Institute at the age of 10.

He learned to play in at the age of 16. His schoolteacher taught him to play, but he did not take chess seriously until he was 27 and working as a government officer.  For seven years, he did not play chess at all.

In 1870 he settled in St. Petersburg after completing his education.

In 1872 he took a government post as a clerk in a state institution.

In 1873 he started playing chess seriously and hustling chess at the Cafe Dominic in St. Petersburg. He was 23. By the age of 28, he would be the strongest chess player in Russia.

1874/75 - 3rd place in a St Petersburg handicap tournament .

1875 gave up his government post job to be a full time chessplayer after being encouraged by Winawer.   Chigorin was the first Russian to devote all his life to chess.

In 1875, he defeated Petrovsky in a match and participated in the 1875 St Petersburg tournament.

In 1876, he took 2nd place in a St Petersburg tournament.

He published the chess magazine "Chess Sheet" in September, 1876. It was also known as Shakmatny Listok (1876-1881).  He only had 250 subscribers in all of Russia.

In 1877, he took 1st place in Petersburg.

In 1878, he defeated Emanuel Schiffers in a match (7-3), but lost in a rematch (won 6, lost 7, drew 1). Schiffers was Chigorin’s first serious chess teacher.

In 1878/79 he took 1st place in an All Russian tournament in Petersburg.   He was now considered the strongest chess player in Russia.

In 1879 he defeated Schiffers in a match with 7 wins, 4 losses, and 2 draws.

In 1878/79  he lost 2 games in a postal match with Moscow, representing St Petersburg.

In 1878/81 he defeated Karkov in a postal match.

In 1880, in St. Petersburg, he organized the 1st Russian chess club.

In 1880 he defeated Semyon Alapin in a match in St Petersburg (7-3).

In 1880 he defeated Schiffers in a match in St Petersburg. He won 7, lost 1, drew 3.

From 1881 to 1890, he edited the chess section of the weekly “World Illustration.”

From August 29 to September 17, 1881, the 2nd German Chess Federation tournament was held in Berlin. This was Chigorin's International chess debut. He took 3rd-4th place(10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw) with Winawer. Blackburne took 1st place. Zukertort took 2nd.

On May 10 to June 24, 1882 he played in Vienna, but took only 12th-13th place. The winners were Steinitz and Winawer.

From April 26 to June 23, 1883, the London International was held. Chigorin took 4th (16 wins, 10 losses, no draws).  Zukertort won the event, followed by Steinitz and Blackburne.

In 1883 he defeated de Riviere in Paris with 5 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw.

By 1884 Chigorin was one of the top 7 players in the world.

From 1885 to 1887, he was the editor of “Chess Herlad.”

In 1886 he won his telegraph match against London, representing St Petersburg.

From January 20 to February 24, 1889, he played Steinitz in Havana for the 2nd world chess championship. Steinitz won with 10 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw. Chigorin was supplied free brandy, which he drank during the match. Steinitz drank champagne during the match.

From March 25 to May 27, 1889, the 6th American Chess Congress was held in New York. This was considered America's first international tournament. Chigorin took 1st-2nd place (along with Max Weiss). He won 27 games, the most tournament wins ever in a major tournament. His score was 29 out of 38 games.

In 1890 he played Gunsberg in a match. He won 9, lost 9, drew 5.

From 1890 to 1908, he edited the chess section of the newspaper “New Time.”

In 1890-1891 he defeated Steinitz in a telegraph match, winning 2 games.

From January 2 to February 28, 1892. Chigorin played in the 4th World championship match in Havana with Steinitz. Steinitz won 10, lost 8, drew 5. Chigorin made one of the worst blunders of a world championship game when on the 23rd and last match game, he moved a Bishop to attack a Rook which led to an overlooked check, threatening mate. Chigorin turned beet red after he played his final move. Before the Bishop move, he had a won game. If Chigorin had won his game, he would have tied with Steinitz. The match would have been continued until one of the players won 12 games.

Chigorin - Steinitz, Game 23, 4th World Championship, Feb 28, 1892 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e5 Nh5 5.Be2 g6 (5...d5 or 5...d6) 6.d4 Bg7 7.O-O d6 8.Nc3 O-O 9.Ne1 dxe5 10.Bxh5 gxh5 11.dxe5 Qxd1 12.Nxd1 Nc6 13.Bxf4 Bf5 14.Ne3 Be4 15.Nf3 Rfe8 16.Ng5 Bg6 17.Nd5 Bxe5 18.Nxc7 Bxc7 19.Bxc7 Rac8 20.Bg3 Nd4 21.c3 Ne2+ 22.Kf2 h4 (22...Nxg3) 23.Bd6 Nd4? (23...Bh5) 24.cxd4 Rc2+ 25.Kg1 Ree2 26.Rae1 Rxg2+ 27.Kh1 Kg7 28.Re8 f5 29.Ne6+ Kf6 30.Re7 Rge2 (30...Rxh2+) 31.d5 Rcd2 (31...Rxh2+) 32.Bb4?? (32.Rxb7 wins. If 32...Rxd5 33.Nf4)Rxh2+ (33.Kg1 Rdg2 mate) 0-1

In 1893 he played Tarrasch in a match in St Petersburg. He won 9, lost 9, drew 4.

In 1895 he defeated Schiffers in a match in St Petersburg. He won 7, drew 3, lost 3.

From August 5 to September 2, 1895, the Hastings International was held. Chigorin took 2nd place. Pillsbury took 1st.

From December 13, 1895 to January 27, 1896, he played in the St Petersburg International and took 4th place. Lasker took 1st place.

From July 19 to August 10, 1896, he played at Nuremberg. He took 9th-10th place.

From October 4-28, 1896, Chigorin played at Budapest. He tied for 1st with Rudolf Charousek. He later beat Charousek in a match with 3 wins ans 1 loss.

From September 12 to October 5, 1897 he played in Berlin. He took 10th place.

In 1897 he defeated Schiffers in a match in St Petersburg. He won 7, lost 1, and drew 6.

From May 31 to July 30, 1898, he played in the Emperor's Jubilee Tournament in Vienna. He took 6th-7th.

From July 31 to August 19, 1898 he played in the 11th German Chess Federation Championship in Colgone. He took 2nd-4th place. Amos Burn took 1st place.

From May 30 to July 10, 1899 he played in the London International Congress and took 7th place.

From September 14 to October 1, 1899 he played in the 1st All Russian Chess Congress in Moscow and took 1st place.

From May 17 to June 19, 1900 he played in Paris and took 6th. The tournament was part of the great Paris Exhibiton. Lasker won the event.

From January 8-27, 1901, he played in the 2nd All Russian Chess Congress in Moscow and took 1st place.

From February 3 to March 5, 1901, he played in Monte Carlo and took 3rd-4th.

From February 1 to March 12, 1902, he played in Monte Carlo and took 8th.

From July 21 to August 11, 1902, he played in the 13th German Chess Federation Championship in Hannover and took 7th place.

In 1903 he defeated Emanuel Lasker in Brighton in a Rice Gambit match. He won 2, lost 1, drew 3.

From May 2-16, 1903, he played in a Gambit tournament in Vienna and took 1st place.

From September 1-26, 1903, he played in the 3rd All Russian Congress in Kiev and took 1st place.

From April 25 to May 19, 1904, he played at Cambridge Springs and took 6th-7th. We won 6, drew 3, and lost 6 games. At the time, Chigorin was the 2nd strongest player in the world, behind World Champion Emanuel Lasker.

From November 3 to December 9, 1904, he played at St Petersburg and took 1st.

From April 2 to May 14, 1905, he played in a Rice Gambit tournament in St Petersburg and took 1st place.

From June 12 to July 18, 1905, he played at Ostend and took 13th place.

From August 12-31, 1905, he played at Barmen and took 7th-10th.

From January 2-23, 1906, he played at St Petersburg and took 2nd.

In May, 1906, he played at Lodz and took 2nd.

In 1906 he defeated Salwe in a match in Lodz. He won 7, lost 5, and drew 3.

From June 5 to July 12, 1906, he played at Ostend, but did poorly.

From July 23 to August 12, 1906, he played in the 15th German Chess Federation Congress in Nuremberg and took 5th.

From May 16 to July 25, 1907, he played at Ostend and took 6th place.

From August 20 to September 7, 1907, he played at Carlsbad and took 16th-18th place. After this tournament, he was told he only had a few more months to live. So he returned to his estranged wife and his daughter, both living in Lublin, Poland.

At 9:50 pm on January 25, 1908 (Jan 12, Old Style) Chigorin died of diabetes in Lublin, Poland at the age of 57. Several years later, his body was moved to the Novodevichy Cemetery in St. Petersburg.

Chigorin married twice and had a daughter, Olga, from his second marriage.  He lived for chess.  His apartment had three chess tables and the walls were filed with portraits of Steinitz, Lakser, Pillsbury and other chess masters.

His lifetime score against Steinitz was 24 wins, 8 draws, and 27 losses.

In match play, Chigorin won 106 games, lost 71, drew 37, for a total of 214 match games.

His peak rating was around 2695 and he was one of the top 10 players in the world from 1880 until 1907.

In 1958 Russia issued a chess stamp honoring Chigorin. In 2000 Russia issued another chess stamp in honor of Chigorin's 150th birth anniversary.