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Mikhail Chigorin
Number of games in database: 818
Years covered: 1874 to 1907
Overall record: +417 -252 =147 (60.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      2 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 French Defense (74) 
    C00 C01 C11 C14 C12
 Evans Gambit (56) 
    C52 C51
 King's Gambit Declined (53) 
    C30 C31
 French (53) 
    C00 C11 C12 C10
 King's Gambit Accepted (39) 
    C33 C34 C37 C38 C36
 Ruy Lopez (28) 
    C65 C77 C80 C67 C62
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (85) 
    C77 C78 C65 C66 C67
 Queen's Pawn Game (47) 
    D02 D00 D05 D04 A46
 Chigorin Defense (28) 
 King's Gambit Accepted (26) 
    C37 C39 C33 C38
 Queen's Gambit Declined (21) 
    D31 D37 D30
 Giuoco Piano (20) 
    C50 C53
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1892 1-0
   Chigorin vs H Caro, 1898 1-0
   Lasker vs Chigorin, 1895 0-1
   Chigorin vs Schlechter, 1905 1/2-1/2
   Chigorin vs J Mortimer, 1900 1-0
   V Knorre vs Chigorin, 1874 0-1
   Gunsberg vs Chigorin, 1890 0-1
   Chigorin vs Davydow, 1874 1-0
   Schiffers vs Chigorin, 1897 1/2-1/2
   Chigorin vs Znosko-Borovsky, 1903 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Chigorin - Gunsberg (1890)
   Chigorin - Tarrasch (1893)
   Budapest (1896)
   Vienna (1903)
   Hastings (1895)
   Monte Carlo (1901)
   Berlin (1881)
   London (1883)
   15th DSB Kongress (Nuremberg) (1906)
   Vienna (1898)
   Paris (1900)
   London (1899)
   Monte Carlo (1902)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   Vienna (1882)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Chigorin! by amadeus
   Santasiere's "My Love Affair With Tchigorin" by Resignation Trap
   A B C Players by fredthebear
   New York 1889 by suenteus po 147
   My Short Notes I (2014) by Knight13
   Vienna 1898 by suenteus po 147
   London 1883 by suenteus po 147
   London 1899 by suenteus po 147
   Chigorin-Gunsberg Match by keypusher
   Chigorin-Gunsberg Match by Chessical
   Modern Chess Instructor (Steinitz) by Qindarka
   Chigorin-Tarrasch match by keypusher
   Chigorin - Tarrasch (match) by Akavall

   Janowski vs A Goetz, 1891
   Tartakower vs Vidmar, 1907

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Chigorin
Search Google for Mikhail Chigorin

(born Nov-12-1850, died Jan-25-1908, 57 years old) Russia
[what is this?]
Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (also spelled Tchigorin, Tjigorin, or Tschigorin) was born on November 12, 1850, in Gatchina, Russia, where he grew up as an orphan.(1) He died after a long illness on January 25, 1908, in Lublin, Poland,(2) in the presence of his wife and his daughter.(1) He was first buried in the Lublin cemetery, but was later moved to the Novodevichy Cemetery in St. Petersburg. Chigorin was the first Russian player to participate in International tournaments, and he is credited with initiating the flourishing of Chess in Russia in the 20th century.(3)

Early Career

He learned to play chess already at the Gatchina orphanage, where his schoolteacher was his first chess teacher. Later, Emmanuel Schiffers became his teacher.(1) Chigorin's first tournament appearance was at the 1875 St. Petersburg Handicap tournament, where he came in 3rd (Schiffers won).(2) In the following years, Chigorin only worked as the editor of Schachmaty and Schachmatny Listok.(2)(3) Yet his playing strength increased, and he won the St. Petersburg tournaments in 1877, 1879 and 1880.(4) He was also successful in matches against Schiffers, winning in Chigorin - Schiffers First Match (1878), Chigorin - Schiffers Third Match (1879) and 1880,(5) and narrowly losing in Chigorin - Schiffers Second Match (1878). Chigorin also beat Semion Alapin in matches in 1880 and 1881.(6)

International events

His first International tournament at Berlin (1881) was a great success as he shared 3rd-4th place with Simon Winawer, both the first Eastern European players to compete internationally.(3) After a mediocre result at Vienna (1882), he came in 4th at London (1883). Chigorin had become one of the strongest players in the world,(3)(7) but took a break from tournament chess until 1889. He celebrated his comeback with a shared 1st place New York (1889) together with Max Weiss .(8)

World Championship Matches

He played two World Championship matches against Wilhelm Steinitz, losing Steinitz-Chigorin World Championship Match (1889) and Steinitz-Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892).

Later Career

In matches, he drew World Championship Challengers Isidor Gunsberg in 1890,(9) and Siegbert Tarrasch in 1893.(10) Chigorin beat Wilhelm Steinitz in a 2-games cable match played from 1890 to 1891, which created widespread interest.(11)(12) One of his greatest successes was his 2nd place behind Harry Nelson Pillsbury in Hastings (1895) ahead of Dr. Emanuel Lasker, Siegbert Tarrasch and Wilhelm Steinitz, when his play was considered to have been the strongest in the tournament.(2)(3) Furthermore, he won 1st place in Budapest (1896) after play-off and at the King's Gambit tournament Vienna (1903). In 1906, Chigorin beat Georg Salwe in a match in Lodz.(13)

Contributions to Chess Theory

Chigorin has many openings named after him, most notably the Chigorin Variation of the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5) and Chigorin's Defense to the Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6).


Garry Kasparov : "In many respects his style was the forerunner of Alekhine's style, and in the mid-20th century the young Spassky - a great connoisseur of Chigorin's games - played in a similar manner..." (Garry Kasparov, On my great predecessors Part I, Everyman Chess, 2003, page 75)


(1) Olga M Kusakova-Chigorina, My Father, Mikhail Chigorin, Novoye Russkoye Slovo, No. 16290, February 2, 1958. Retrieved from mishanp, August 18, 2010,

(2) Adolf Julius Zinkl in the Neuen Freien Presse of January 28, 1908. Reprinted on pages 40-41 of the February 1908 Wiener Schachzeitung. Provided in "ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek"

(3) St. Petersburger Zeitung of January 15, 1908. Reprinted on pages 38-40 of the February 1908 Wiener Schachzeitung. Provided in "ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek"

(4) Rod Edwards, 1877: 1879: 1880:

(5) Rod Edwards, 1880:

(6) Rod Edwards, 1880: 1881:

(7) Rod Edwards,

(8) Rod Edwards,

(9) Rod Edwards,

(10) Rod Edwards,

(11) Kurt Landsberger, William Steinitz - Chess Champion 2d ed. (McFarland 1995), p.251

(12) Page 6 of the New York Sun, November 20, 1890 (noted by John Blackstone (Las Vegas, NV, USA). Retrieved in Jacques N. Pope's ); and Wilhelm Steinitz on page 4 of the New York Tribune, May 1, 1891. Retrieved in Edward Winter's C.N. 7851,

(13) Rod Edwards,

notes: Chigorin played consultation chess on the teams of Lasker / Chigorin / Marshall / Teichmann & Steinitz / Chigorin

 page 1 of 33; games 1-25 of 818  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. V Knorre vs Chigorin 0-114 1874 St PetersburgC50 Giuoco Piano
2. Chigorin vs Davydow 1-027 1874 PetersburgC37 King's Gambit Accepted
3. Winawer vs Chigorin 1-028 1875 St. Petersburg (Russia)C52 Evans Gambit
4. Chigorin vs Shumov  1-025 1875 St Petersburg cgC34 King's Gambit Accepted
5. NN vs Chigorin 0-127 1875 St PetersburgC37 King's Gambit Accepted
6. Chigorin vs A Ascharin 1-029 1875 PetersburgB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
7. Chigorin vs Alapin 1-029 1875 St PetersburgB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
8. Chigorin vs Shumov 1-026 1876 St. PetersburgC21 Center Game
9. Chigorin vs K Miasnikov 1-020 1876 corresp.C80 Ruy Lopez, Open
10. Chigorin vs I Miasnikov 1-016 1876 CasualC37 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Chigorin vs A Ascharin 1-025 1877 PetersburgB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
12. Chigorin vs A Khardin 1-037 1877 St PetersburgC33 King's Gambit Accepted
13. Chigorin vs M Beskrovny 1-040 1877 PetersburgC59 Two Knights
14. E Schmidt vs Chigorin  0-136 1877 PetersburgC67 Ruy Lopez
15. Alapin vs Chigorin 0-121 1877 PetersburgC33 King's Gambit Accepted
16. A Khardin vs Chigorin  1-025 1878 St. PetersburgB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
17. Schlezer vs Chigorin 0-112 1878 PetersburgC40 King's Knight Opening
18. Chigorin vs City of Kharkiv 1-039 1878 corrC37 King's Gambit Accepted
19. Chigorin vs Schiffers 1-025 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchC48 Four Knights
20. Schiffers vs Chigorin 0-125 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchC51 Evans Gambit
21. Chigorin vs Schiffers 0-125 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
22. Schiffers vs Chigorin 0-155 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchC45 Scotch Game
23. Chigorin vs Schiffers 0-128 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
24. Schiffers vs Chigorin 0-141 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchC13 French
25. Chigorin vs Schiffers 0-135 1878 Chigorin - Schiffers First MatchC77 Ruy Lopez
 page 1 of 33; games 1-25 of 818  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Chigorin wins | Chigorin loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-12-14  tranquilsimplicity: I will not push the Morphy argument too much because it was you who introduced the question of the difficulty of knowing who was the first World Champion.

I agree that Chessmetrics rates Steinitz much higher than Morphy. And I have a healthy respect for Jeff Sonas and his statistical rating model. However in March 1883 Steinitz told a magazine discussing 'The World Champion on the Ex-Champion' (did you note that - EX-CHAMPION) that he went to Lousiana specifically to seek Morphy out. Steinitz tried his utmost to get an audience with Morphy. It transpired in their short discussions interrupted by crowds that though Morphy had quit competitive Chess, he was aware of the goings on in the Chess world. To a friend Morphy once quipped "His (Steinitz) gambit is wrong!"

I agree with you on the issue that it is difficult to ascertain who was stronger between Morphy and Steinitz during Morphy's career. Morphy's career was just over 2 years; Steinitz around 40 years. I would conclude that Steinitz was eventually stronger than Morphy due to experience and match wins (increasing his rating points). And this is what Chessmetrics indicates.

Regarding Morphy not winning any tournaments, this is exactly my point; official recognition not being the true measurement of skill. Had there been tournaments Morphy could attend, I have a strong feeling that he would have thoroughly routed his opposition. This argument regarding a player - not having won an international tournament to prove his mettle - was used by Tarrasch in 1892 when he was challenged to a match by Lasker and refused. Not only did Lasker go on to surpass Tarrasch and become World Champion but also beat Tarrasch when they eventually met in 1908. The same argument was used against, I believe Capablanca, but another Chess Master vouched for him, and Capa won the tournament. Anyway as I concluded earlier the main point for me is that 'official recognition is not the true measurement of skill or talent'. #

Feb-13-14  Poulsen: Poulsen: <tranquilsimplicity><'official recognition is not the true measurement of skill or talent'>

On this I agree totally. This certainly applies to the pre-FIDE-era.

By 1914 the international chesstournamentlife had evolved - slowly and unevenly - for around 60 years - using London 1851 as marker. But what tournaments that should count as 'major international tournaments' in this period might not have been entirely clear to the organizers of the 1914 event.

Not only are some important players missing - most notable Schlechter - but some - such as Gunsberg - was there on a very thin 'mandate' IMO.

Gunsberg had won a couple of national tournaments - and had played Steinitz for the World Championship - with little succes despite the fact, that Steinitz at that point was declining as player.

And all that had taken place 30 years before the St. Petersburg event - and he was by 1914 60 years old.

The fact that he none the less was in the field goes to show your main point: he had the needed recognition, but was clearly unable to live up to it. That could hardly have been a surprise to anyone.

Which brings me to a final word on Morphy: Morphy was in his lifetime hailed as a demigod - and this happens even today, because many blindly repeats the sentiments and judgment of his contemporaies - without relating critically to his actual playing strength - and his obvious shortcomings.

With this in mind I have little doubt, that he would have been included in the field at St. Petersburg 1914 - had he been alive and willing to play at the very advanced age of 77 years old.

My conclusion of all this? Well, unless we try to apply some sort of ratingtool, we do not have any really good way today to decide who among the pre-FIDE Masters should be considered 'Grand Masters' - or who should not. We face the same problems as FIDE in 1950 - and the organizers of St. Petersburg 1914.

And I think we should just accept the fact, that many of even the greatest masters from Philidor and onwards never was bestowed with a title fitting for their talent and skills.

For my part I am willing - in the lack of anything better - to accept the Tsar myth - true or not true - about the 5 original Grand Masters. At least no-one can dispute, that these 5 Masters indeed were Grand.

Thus to me Staunton, Morphy, Steinitz, Zukertort etc. were not Grand Masters - but do we think less of them for that reason? I think not.

And the same of course goes for Chigorin. He could have been 64 years old by 1914. He was no doubt a great master - but not a Grand Master.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Amadeus>! Well done.... Brilliantly executed collections on Chigorin. Thank you very much!
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chigorin's talent is enormous, and possibly he is a real genius. At times the depth of his ideas can be inaccessible to mere mortals> - Alexander Alekhine.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chigorin was a bundle of nervous energy and he constantly swung his crossed foot back and forth. Speaking only in his native Russian, he was handicapped in getting along with the other masters> - Frank Marshall.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Once he fixated on an idea, his theoretical point became more important to him than winning, and this lack of competitive pragmatism prevented him from making it to the top> - Garry Kasparov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <In Russia the first player to devote all his life to the game, the man who initiated the habit of adopting a profound approach to chess, was Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin, and we can only speak of the existence of a Russian chess school from this time onward> - Mikhail Botvinnik.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <The grandiosity of Chigorin's ideas is enchanting: his every move breathes with creative force and an irresistable will to win> - Rudolph Spielmann.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chigorin, a genius of practical play, considers his privilege at every convenient opportunity to challenge the principles of contemporary chess theory> - Wilhelm Steinitz.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Had Chigorin been able to rein in his fantasy on just a few occasions, the world might have had its first Russian champion decades before Alekhine> - Garry Kasparov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <In difficult positions Chigorin gets very excited, and at times seems quite fierce, sitting at the board, with his black hair brushed back, splendid bright eyes, and flushed face look as if he could see right through the table. When calm, however, he is decidedly handsome, and calculated to beget confidence> - Tournament Book of Hastings 1895.
May-21-15  john barleycorn: Allegedly, this position is from a game Schiffers-Chigorin, 1897. Can't find it here:

click for larger view

Black to move. Mate in 5. Nice one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MarkFinan: ..Rh1+ ..NxR forced... Be2+ kxB.. Rh8+ .kg1 ..Rxh1# That's 4 but I knew what I was looking for and those bishops are deadly. Something very similar anyway.
May-21-15  john barleycorn: Mark, white can add a move:
1...Rh1+ 2.Nxg1 Bh2+ 3.Kxh2 Rh8+ 4.Kg3 Nf5+ 5.Kf4 Rh4++
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessdreamer: <john barleycorn> here you are, a classic missed opportunity. Schiffers vs Chigorin, 1897. Chigorin played 22...b6.
May-22-15  john barleycorn: Thanks, <Chessdreamer> I was not aware of it. That's why I started my post with "allegedly". I just searched for "schiffers chigorin 1897 black wins" and did not find a game.
May-22-15  john barleycorn: Holy smoke, white can throw one more in:

1...Rh1+ 2.Nxg1 Bh2+ 3.Kxh2 Rh8+ 4.Bh6 Rxh6+ 5.Kg3 Nf5+ 6.Kf4(or g4) Rh4++

Aug-14-15  WTHarvey: Here are 15 checkmates from the games of Mikhail Chigorin: What's the winning move ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Not only are some important players missing - most notable Schlechter ...>

Schlechter, Maroczy, Vidmar, Teichmann, and Duras declined their invitation to Petersburg, 1914.

The sticking point was that Lasker was asking (and receiving) special financial treatment at the expense of other players.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Rest in peace, Mikhail Chigorin!!
Jan-29-16  Chess Is More: He was an orphan but did well for himself. Fischer loves him so much, it's almost peculiar.

Yes, he played Schiffers in 1897. The Russian Empire in those days, is anyone still living? Who remembers?

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: While researching chess and cigars, I came across this material, stated to be written by his daughter:



He got to know chess himself while he was still a pupil at the Gatchina Orphanage. He was taught by his schoolteacher, while his first serious teacher was the well-known chess player Schiffers.

Chigorin never worked and only contributed to a few newspapers and journals. When he was offered a job in one of the St. Petersburg banks he turned it down due to being overloaded with chess work. He personally considered it unacceptable to receive a salary for only being formally employed, although the Chigorins’ material situation wasn’t particularly brilliant. It was rumoured that my father made a fortune from tournaments, but that was a fairy tale.


His talent was at its peak in the years 1891-95. Being a very nervous man, my father could never stand any smells and particularly the smell of cigars, while such serious opponents as Lasker, Steinitz and others wouldn’t let a cigar leave their mouths while they were playing. They enveloped my father in cigar smoke, which he couldn’t stand. He became stressed and made blunders. Someone wrote: there was the impression that Chigorin was almost too lazy to “seize the crown”. He wasn’t lazy, but given his nervousness the cigar smoke simply prevented him from concentrating in the manner required to work out combinations.


Painfully sensitive, he had a “fever” for chess, while in the rest of his life he sought silence.


Chigorin’s internal makeup was of a man with a good heart and crystalline honesty, but with a difficult character. The defining feature of his nature was his anecdotal absent-mindedness: talking to someone he would often unexpectedly list some chess moves, which would confuse his interlocutor. He frequently looked for a missing piece which he turned out to be gripping in his own hand.

From my earliest years I was told to look after him: had he forgotten to put on his tie, did he take someone else’s hat, and during a downpour did he take a walking stick instead of an umbrella? He often tried to put on two starched shirts at the same time, and not being able to fasten both collars he was all blood and thunder towards the washerwomen. Putting on two waistcoats was a common occurrence for him. Leaving the house with an umbrella he would rarely return with it, having lost it somewhere along the way, though soon afterwards he would bring five of them and put them all down carefully in the correct corner.


Feb-28-16  Chess Is More: Do we know the daughter wrote this? Are we only speculating at this point?
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Chess Is More> I don't know much more than what was in the link.

My impression is that it's believable (look at the details). But a level of skepticism is both healthy, and necessary, in such matters.

If you care to contribute any research...

* * * * *

Here's a little snippet about Chigorin's editorial days:

<Instead of the Shakmatny Listok, which appeared at St. Petersburg for six years under the editorship of Mr. Tschigorin, and died at the end of last year of inanition—a malady, unfortunately, not foreign with Chess periodicals—a new Russian Chess paper—Shakmatny Journal—is started at Moscow by Herr Hellwig. The contents of the first number, July, promise well—Editorial introduction, budget of Chess news from Russia and abroad, six games, two of them being the tie games Steinitz-Winawer, the other four home-made, and eight Problems by Russian composers. Two pages and a half out of the sixteen are devoted to Russian draughts.>

C-M v4 (Oct(?) 1882) p41


1) lack of mental or spiritual vigor and enthusiasm.

2) exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: It is regrettable that Chigorin's temperament got the better of his brilliance in that most crucial of moments against Steinitz, but the world has been bequeathed some magnificent attacking chess, all in all.
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