Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Chessgames premium membership fee will increase to $39 per year effective June 15, 2023. Enroll Now!

  WCC Overview
 Steinitz and Tchigorin, 1889
 Steinitz and Chigorin face off in Cuba
Steinitz vs Chigorin 1889

Wilhelm Steinitz was one of the first truly original thinkers in chess. What Steinitz gave to chess could be compared to what Newton gave to physics: he made it a science. By identifying a number of positional features, Steinitz realized that all sound attacks stem from weaknesses in the opponent's position. When such weaknesses do not exist, attacking is not warranted, and proper positional play dictates that one must strive for the slow addition of many small advantages.

Mikhail Chigorin was one of the last of the great romantic players, and his fighting spirit embodied the character of the Soviet school of chess which was to dominate the chess world in the latter part of the 20th century. Chigorin rejected the doctrinal approach of Steinitz and Tarrasch, but he accepted some of Steinitz's ideas, notably a belief in the soundness of the defensive center, and his investigations into the Closed Defense to the Spanish Opening have proved of lasting value.[1]

Although Chigorin's lifetime record against Steinitz is very respectable, Steinitz's mastery of chess proved to be too much for him in this match.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617

FINAL SCORE:  Steinitz 10;  Chigorin 6 (1 draw)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Steinitz-Chigorin 1889]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #17     Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1889     1/2-1/2
    · Game #7     Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1889     1-0
    · Game #5     Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1889     0-1


  1. The Oxford Companion to Chess

 page 1 of 1; 17 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Chigorin vs Steinitz 1-0581889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
2. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0381889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD02 Queen's Pawn Game
3. Chigorin vs Steinitz 1-0831889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
4. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0221889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD02 Queen's Pawn Game
5. Chigorin vs Steinitz 0-1261889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
6. Steinitz vs Chigorin 0-1371889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD02 Queen's Pawn Game
7. Chigorin vs Steinitz 1-0341889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
8. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0381889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
9. Chigorin vs Steinitz 0-1561889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
10. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0271889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD07 Queen's Gambit Declined, Chigorin Defense
11. Chigorin vs Steinitz 1-0311889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
12. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0611889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD07 Queen's Gambit Declined, Chigorin Defense
13. Chigorin vs Steinitz 1-0641889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
14. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0351889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchD07 Queen's Gambit Declined, Chigorin Defense
15. Chigorin vs Steinitz 0-1361889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
16. Steinitz vs Chigorin 1-0521889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchA04 Reti Opening
17. Chigorin vs Steinitz ½-½701889Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship MatchC52 Evans Gambit
 page 1 of 1; 17 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <Knights who now say Nimh again>

Yes nobody will dispute that pretty much any engine can beat the best human players today.

With regard to "woeful"- yes, what you say is true in an absolute, and technical sense.

However, a sports writer would never use the phrase "woeful" to describe the 1900 sprint champ's performance in a million years.

Similarly, neither should a chess writer use the word "woeful" to describe Steinitz's play in this Match.

At least with respect to a computer evaluation.

Recall also that another school of evaluation (Sonas) seeks to emphasize synchronic comparison in his elo analysis.

For example, Sonas reports that Steinitz's performance at the London 1872 tournament was a <2703 elo Performance rating>.

This number would not hold up to a comparative chess engine study.

At any rate, interesting discussion thank you-

That said, all due respect to <whatthefat>.

I respect him and his many contributions to this site. I wouldn't take his comment here seriously unless I took *him* seriously.

And I do.

Apr-11-10  ughaibu: I've just played through all the games, and it seems to me that the number of appalling games and the number of good games, isn't wildly different from the 1972 match.
Apr-11-10  nimh: <I've just played through all the games, and it seems to me that the number of appalling games and the number of good games, isn't wildly different from the 1972 match.>

Obviously not <wildly> different. They weren't patzers and from the standpoint of a weak amateur even a mediocre 19 century player is miles ahead of him.

Apr-11-10  whatthefat: <jessicafischerqueen: <Whatthefat> made this conclusion, citing your project.>

Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding - I actually came to this conclusion after playing through all the games of this match for the first time. I had expected to see something akin to a match between IMs today, and was rather taken aback by how sloppy some of the play was, especially when compared to something like the level of play in championship matches from 1896 onwards.

The results of <nimh>'s study placed their playing strength at around 2350-2400 by modern standards. But if I had nothing to go by other than this match, I would probably have estimated them to be weaker than this. Perhaps I'm being overly harsh, but that was my initial impression.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <whatthefat> well you stand by your words I can respect that.

I haven't done a systematic investigation comparing all the WC Matches, and I'm neither a strong player nor a strong analyst.

I have taken a good look at many of Steinitz's games prior to this Match, and many of them certainly impressed me.

However, that said, I have at present only investigated game one of this match, in which Steinitz blunders a piece, and the game, apparently out of the blue-- which is not much of an advertisement for my argument.

So I will demur to you gentlemen until I finish the whole Match here.

Thanks for your elucidation.

Premium Chessgames Member

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Part Six:

Apr-02-11  squaresquat: Bobby Fischer was a god. He was also a
great American. He made his fortune at what he loved. He obeyed the conservative maxim of 'my country; love it or leave it.' His greatness was he never sold out his ideals.
Jan-16-12  AVRO38: <Looking at the quality of the games in this match, it's a wonder the chess world championship didn't die in its cradle.>

Given that this was not a world championship match, I'm not quite sure what you mean.

I know, I know...all the kibitzers will have a cow, call me a troll, predictable!

But once again, small minds cannot grasp complex subjects. So to save you the time I know what you are going to say: Steinitz beat Zukertort which means he's the world champion, and since he's playing a match it must be a world championship match. Very simple, very easy, very tidy, a small mind can understand it.

But unfortunately (for kibitzers) it's just not true! And no matter what you say, you cannot change that fact.

Mar-05-13  Garech: One draw in seventeen games! What the chess world would give for a similar statistic at a WC match nowadays!!


Jul-29-13  chesssalamander: Why did they play game 17? Didn't Steinitz already have the required 10 wins at that point?
Sep-30-13  Karpova: From the 1889 'Wiener Schachzeitung' (Sonderheft)

P. 6: <Habana, 21. Feber. (Vom Spezial-Berichterstatter.). Im Hafen hat sich ein Haifisch gezeigt. Mehrere zu Gast hier weilende Schachspieler nahmen ihren Schwiegermüttern Abonnements für die See-Bade-Anstalt.> (Havana, February 21. (By the special correspondent). A shark showed up in the harbour. Several of the chessplayers who are guests here, took sea swimming baths subscriptions for their mothers-in-law.)

P. 7: <Habana, 22. Feber. Die gestern gemeldete Maßregel war von Erfolg begleitet. Der Haifish ist verschwunden.> (Havana, February 22. The measure reported yesterday, was successful. The shark disappeared).

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <chesssalamander: Why did they play game 17? Didn't Steinitz already have the required 10 wins at that point?>

This match was for the best of 20 games, so Chigorin could have still made it a 10-10 tie by winning 4 straight games. After the 17th game was drawn then this was no longer possible.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I wonder if Havana will host another World Championship in the near future?
Apr-13-16  zanzibar: I'll betcha a Cohiba or two they do.
Jun-01-16  posoo: now dis - DIS - is a tornnament dat da old posoo can RESPECT. REAL FITING CHESSE with almost NO DRAUGHS.

Chuggorin would be ASHAMED of championship chesse today.

May-04-18  thegoodanarchist: 16 straight decisive games?

Wow, that is "not expected" in this day and age. To be mild about it...

Aug-02-19  Chesgambit: My analysis Chigorin maybe become world champion because steinitz losing but Chigorin made bludner in 1 game ( final games )
Dec-24-19  cameosis: <jessicafischerqueen> i agree with you on your point regarding the comparison between historical and modern/current players who greatly benefit from modern technology and analysis tools, except for the fact that fischer is any authority on evaluating the strength of said historical players.

while a decent chess player himself, his attitude and mental problems make him the least likely source of reference in that respect, as his callous and toxic personality polluted his chess achievements.

May-07-21  login:

The contest between

William Steinitz, first world chess champion

from Libération 'Retrosports' by Gilles Dhers, 2019 (in French)

May-07-21  RookFile: The Ruy Lopez is symbolic of the stylistic differences between Chigorin and Steinitz. For a long time, the Chigorin Defense to the Ruy Lopez was considered as among the most accurate of openings, and involves the sort of dynamic play Chigorin loved.

Lately the Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez has been the opening "du jour" and requires no imagination to remind ourselves of Steinitz tenaciously setting up a wall that cannot be knocked down.

May-07-21  Petrosianic: <chesssalamander>: <Why did they play game 17? Didn't Steinitz already have the required 10 wins at that point?>

Because it wasn't a match to 10 wins. It was Best of 20.

In fact all 20 games were played, although games 18-20 were played as consultation games, since the match proper was over after Game 17. In Games 18-20, Steinitz and Tchigorin each took one of the organizers as his partner, and the result was +1-1=1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Matter of fact, the practice of playing all the games did not die with this title match--as late as 1966, Petrosian-Spassky went the full 24 games although Iron Tigran had already retained his crown by leading with a two-point margin after game 22.
May-07-21  Petrosianic: Yes, Petrosian clinched the <title> after Game 22, but he didn't win the <match> until Game 24. So, were games 23 and 24 exhibition games? In a way, yes (since they weren't for the title). But in another way no (they were for the match).
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In effect, yes, same as Euwe-Alekhine in 1937 was decided after 25, but the last five were played anyway and went to Euwe, +2 -1 =2.
May-07-21  Petrosianic: Well, the 1937 match was similar to the 1899 match in that all the games were played. But the last 5 games in 1937 (which Euwe won +2-1=2, I think) were for neither the title or the match. So they were true exhibition games.

But the last 2 games of the 1966 match were for the match, if not for the title.

Frankly, I like the old practice of playing the full number of games even if match and title were decided before that. After the war they never did that. But in 1899 and 1937 (and to some extent in 1966) it's interesting to study the title winner's play after the title has been decided. I'm not surprised that Euwe won the last 5 games in 1937. Alekhine was in Party Mode, while Euwe was still ready to play seriously. Same with 1966. Petrosian went down VERY easily in Game 23, but in Game 24 he stiffened, and realized there was still a match to be won. Spassky made a good effort to win Game 24, (which shows what a great sportsman he is), but Petrosian held. Very interesting games, which should be studied.

Jump to page #    (enter # from 1 to 3)
search thread:   
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific tournament only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!
Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC