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Chigorin - Tarrasch Match

Mikhail Chigorin11/22(+9 -9 =4)[games]
Siegbert Tarrasch11/22(+9 -9 =4)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Chigorin - Tarrasch (1893)

St. Petersburg, Russia; 8 October 1893—14 November 1893

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Wins ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Chigorin 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 0 1 9 Tarrasch 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 1 0 9 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Format: First to 10 wins, draws not counting, is victor. Drawn if 9 wins each. Time Control: 15 moves per hour. Stakes: 5000 Marks per side.

This match was contested in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire (Russia) between October 8 and November 14, 1893. (1) The time control was 15 moves an hour, and the stakes were 5,000 marks per side.(1) The first player to win ten games would win the match, but if each player won nine games, the match would end without a winner.(1) In Dreihundert Schachpartien, Tarrasch wrote that he received an invitation "couched in the most flattering terms" from St. Petersburg.(1) On the other hand, Garry Kasparov stated in his On My Great Predecessors, Part I that Tarrasch challenged Chigorin.(2) In any case, the German arrived in St. Petersburg on October 4 and the match began four days later.(3)

Tarrasch never trailed, winning the first game in 29 moves, later leading 4-2, but he couldn't shake Chigorin. After 17 games, Tarrasch led +8 -5 =4, and wrote that everyone thought (me most of all) that the match was decided in my favor.(3) But Chigorin promptly won three in a row to tie the match again. Tarrasch won the 21st game, but Chigorin took the 22nd in a fascinating endgame. Thus, under the rules, the match ended in a tie: +9 -9 =4.

Kasparov praised the match for the richness of its chess content and noted that the contestants "fought literally to the to the last pawn: in the first nine games and the six final ones there was not a single draw!"(2) The match is also prized because of its clash of styles. Tarrasch was an exponent of classical chess. Kasparov wrote that "Both in his play, and in his commentaries, Tarrasch aimed to follow general rules, and he methodically formulated them".(4) Chigorin was different. As Mikhail Botvinnik put it, "To get any idea of Tchigorin's creative style we must realize that he frequently looked not for the rules but the exceptions".(5) The Russian repeatedly adopted 2.Qe2 against Tarrasch's French Defense, leading in a number of cases to the sort of King's Indian Reversed that would become popular in the following century.

Contemporary reactions
"All chess-players will be glad to learn that, without any preliminary trumpeting, a match has been arranged to take place at the St. Petersburg Chess Club between Mr. Tschigorin and Dr. Tarrasch. Five games a week will be played, and the winner will be the one who scores ten first, draws not counting. The contest will be the more attractive as it will form some guide to the chance Dr. Tarrasch would have in match with Mr. Steinitz. The former is undoubtedly a champion of the first rank, but great tournament skill is not always reflected in match play, and in at least one notable instance it almost disappears. The style of Dr. Tarrasch, however, makes it probable he is as good at one thing as the other, and Mr. Tschigorin will have to do his best — great as it is — to beat him."(6)

"A COMING CHESS MATCH. (Reuter's telegram.) ST. PETERSBURG, Sept. 19. A great international chess match is to take place at the St. Petersburg Chess Club in the course of next week. The competitors are M. Tschigorin, the famous Russian player, and Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch, who has taken part in all the principal chess tournaments of the past few years. He won distinction in England while playing at Manchester in 1890. The stake in the forthcoming match is 5,000 marks a side (£250), and the prize will be awarded to the player who first wins 10 games, drawn games not being counted. MM. Tschigorin and Tarrasch will play five days a week, one game being finished each day."(7)

"The great Chess Match at St. Petersburg has ended in a draw — a fitting termination to so determined a contest. According to the conditions the first winner of ten games was to be the victor, but it was judiciously provided that in the unlikely event of the score becoming "nine all" the match should be drawn. This circumstance, which, though provided for, was certainly never expected, has now occurred, and by the fortunate provision referred to we are spared the spectacle of an important and hardly-fought encounter being decided by the chances of a single game when both players are doubtless wearied by their protracted efforts. Under such circumstances they could not appear at their best, and if the contest had been fought out to the bitter end it would have resulted in an inconclusive victory for the competitor who happened to display the greater physical endurance and nerve. The conclusion, however, is not the only remarkable feature of the match, which was not alone a trial of strength be- tween two individual experts, but, what was perhaps more important, a struggle for supremacy between the old and the new schools of chess. Dr. Tarrasch is certainly the leading European exponent of the "modern school" initiated by Steinitz, which is based on the theory that the steady accumulation of minor advantages, such as the odd Pawn on the Queen's side, is a more certain road to victory than that achieved by the dashing coups which used to delight Anderssen, Labourdonnais, and the players of a former generation. Impetuous attacks carry with them the danger of disastrous retreats, and, though sometimes successful, they cannot be relied upon with any degree of certainty.

Thus, while Tarrasch relies on the slow and sure modern tactics, Tschigorin enjoys the well-earned reputation of being the most skilful and vigorous of modern players as regards his capacity for attack, though he is far from reliable in complicated positions requiring delicate defensive manoeuvres. Tschigorin, indeed, may be said to carry on the traditions of the old school more thoroughly than any other player, unless it be the veteran Englishman Mr. Bird. But recent experience seemed to show that tactics which were good enough in the old days, when men were not anxious to analyse chess so microscopically as now, could not be adopted with success in modern competitions. Tschigorin, it is true, has an advantage over his predecessors, inasmuch as all the work of the analysts is at his disposal; but being an original and imaginative player his tendency is, naturally, to discard booklore and to trust to his own resources. These considerations, combined with Tarrasch's unbeaten record, no doubt account for the general anticipation of an easy victory for the German amateur.

This anticipation was strengthened by the first few games, notwithstanding one or two dashing victories by Tschigorin. It was thought that Tarrasch only lost by accident, and that he held his opponent well in hand all the same. Tschigorin, too, was driven to adopt an unfavourable variation in the French Defence in order to avoid the book knowledge of his rival. But, notwithstanding this, the victories of the Russian became more frequent, until at last he caught his adversary's score just in time to make the match a tie. The members of the St. Petersburg Chess Club are to be congratulated on their enterprise in bringing about the match, which has not only produced several exceptionally fine examples of chess, but has resulted in a vindication of the methods of the old school, which will probably do much to restore it to popularity. The undeniable dullness of recent tournaments has been chiefly due to the adoption of "modern" theories, and if players are encouraged in future to exercise their imagination more freely they will introduce a welcome relief."(8)


(1) Dreihundert Schachpartien, Tarrasch, Von Veit & Co., Leipzig 1895, p419 and p496. (2) On My Great Predecessors Part I, Kasparov, Everyman Publishers, 2003, p89.
(3) Dreihundert Schachpartien, Tarrasch, Von Veit & Co., Leipzig 1895, p420.
(4) On My Great Predecessors Part I, Kasparov, Everyman Publishers, 2003, p150.
(5) 100 Selected Games, Botvinnik, Dover, 1960, p211.
(6) Illustrated London News, 30 September 1893, p23.
(7) Morning Post, 21 September 1893, p5.
(8) Morning Post, 17 November 1893, p4.

Original collection: Game Collection: Chigorin-Tarrasch match, by User: keypusher.

 page 1 of 1; 22 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 1-0291893Chigorin - TarraschC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
2. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 1-0431893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
3. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 0-1621893Chigorin - TarraschC66 Ruy Lopez
4. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 0-1621893Chigorin - TarraschA07 King's Indian Attack
5. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 1-0261893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
6. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 0-1591893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
7. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 0-1421893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
8. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 1-0341893Chigorin - TarraschA07 King's Indian Attack
9. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 1-0631893Chigorin - TarraschC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
10. Chigorin vs Tarrasch ½-½311893Chigorin - TarraschA07 King's Indian Attack
11. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 1-0531893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
12. Chigorin vs Tarrasch ½-½511893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
13. Tarrasch vs Chigorin ½-½321893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
14. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 0-1771893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
15. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 0-1451893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
16. Chigorin vs Tarrasch ½-½271893Chigorin - TarraschC34 King's Gambit Accepted
17. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 1-0561893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
18. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 1-0621893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
19. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 0-1421893Chigorin - TarraschC77 Ruy Lopez
20. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 1-0661893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
21. Tarrasch vs Chigorin 1-0311893Chigorin - TarraschD05 Queen's Pawn Game
22. Chigorin vs Tarrasch 1-0581893Chigorin - TarraschC00 French Defense
 page 1 of 1; 22 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: From the bio:

<Tarrasch wrote that he received an invitation "couched in the most flattering terms" from St. Petersburg. On the other hand, Kasparov stated in <On My Great Predecessors I> that Tarrasch challenged Chigorin...>

Yes, Kasparov. The thing is, chess Grandmasters are only Grandmasters of chess. The title doesn't give them an honorary degree in history as well. So I think in this case I will accept Dr Tarrasch's testimony!

Although it wasn't his fault, even the title of Kasparov's series of books is wrong! The front page of the book I have reads:

<Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors>

Correct is,

<"Garry Kasparov on <His> Great Predecessors>.

Obvious when you think about it!

May-03-15  A.T PhoneHome: <offramp> OR you can think about it as a question; a more general question.

Even though not on record, we all are asked about our great predecessors (we formulate the question in our minds). Garry Kasparov had a question in mind "Who are my great predecessors" and he provides his answer in his series of books.

The series of books is essentially his take on his (my) great predecessors because he once asked that question from himself. :P that's my argument for why Kasparov's title for the series is correct.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: I love this place.

People can start a random debate on book titles and what they mean. This one seems fairly civilised, others on here often descend into total madness.

I think it's 'My' because he wrote the books.

If someone else had written the books then it's 'His'.


'My 60 Memorable Games' by Bobby Fischer.

'Fischer and His 60 Memorable Games' by Larry Evans.

May-03-15  A.T PhoneHome: "Only" fairly civilized? Sheesh, you're ruining me! Just kidding and yes, you said it in a far more clear way.

It's funny you know? It could be a gaming site and yet the content of debates would be the same as here, on chess website where one would expect the conversating to be that of high-brow manner.

It's true that we are able to have debates and conversations on just about everything. And on every site there is a clear "low point" and clear "high point".

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: and BTW...

This match (back on track), has a wonderful supply of entertaining games.

Tarrasch notes up every game in his lucid and often witty style in his '300 Games'.

He also confirms he received a 'flattering invitation' so you are correct Offramp.

Tarrasch also adds Chigorin said the match would do a great deal to encourage Chess in Russia.

Hmmmmmm....No Tarrasch - Chigorin match then Chess in Russia would have remained in the doldrums. With no Russian chess players in the 50's Bobby would have won the world title in 1958.

Wow! Wait till I unleash that one of the Fischer page.


I like Tarrasch's writings. In that book he comes out with some classic gems.

I'll not recall the exact quotes but they go something like.

"In this position I could have played differently, then I would have lost differently."

"So far all book and thanks to my excellent retentive memory I am now lost."

"Here I chose the wrong moment not to resign."

"My opponent has played poorly and my position is so good that I had that many good moves to choose from I got confused and lost."

(I think his opponent in that last one was Blackburne, I don't have the book on hand.)


I know it's a hackneyed phrase but I cannot believe the first post to this great match was made only in April this year.

What have you guys been discussing (arguing about) all this time?

(has it only recently appeared?...If so I'll let you off.)

May-03-15  A.T PhoneHome: <In this position I could have played differently, then I would have lost differently> - this reminds me of an article regarding the bust to something played by Boris Spassky. *cough*

And I don't think this match page is so new. However, this is my first time visiting this match page and my take on this match is:

- Lots of decisive results

- 22 games isn't a mini-match; clearly adding a lot to this event's fabric

- Two strong players! What more could you hope for?

- Related to the above note; two different playing styles

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi A.T.

They are good games.

I recall reviewing this book '300 games' adding if you don't learn something about the game from Tarrasch - Chigorin match within the book then give up.

Book Reviews.

They should only be done by people who have played the game and are now fully or semi-retired.

The books they review should only be ones they knew stood them in good stead throughout their career or the books that turned out to completely useless.

OK we have to wait 40-50 years before we decide what book to buy...and the book will be 40-50 years old out print and impossible to get a hold off. But that will making hunting for and finally getting it all that more fun.

On a serious note and all joking aside someone should drop a questionnaire on the tables at the next over 60's World Championship and ask them which book they think did them the most good throughout their career.

The results would be so interesting.

It might not be an obscure book. it might be one that everybody has gathering dust only we don't know how good it is.


I can now add to my review of '300 Games'
Yes it's a great book but it has a weak spine and the pages are falling out through over use.

May-03-15  A.T PhoneHome: Well I guess if 60+ World Championship has many players from the same nation (like former Soviet Union), then they may have received similar suggestions as "that book you need when you first start to practise chess" and for further studying they have been directed to study the games of tactical or positional players, depending on their preferences.

Of course I am not such player to know this, but it may be an angle for guessing what they may have read. It's my take on the subject.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Here is an oddity about 300 Games. The book ends with the match v Walbrodt, with this game, K A Walbrodt vs Tarrasch, 1894. That games is Tarrasch's game number 308 here at So Tarrasch's book is almost every serious game he had played up to the end of 1894. Although there are a couple of games where Tarrasch is not involved.

Also, people think Fischer was great for including three losses in 60MG, but there are dozens of losses in 300CG.

It is a really great book. Chernev called it The Holy Bible and it's a pity he didn't translate it himself, Sol Schwartz's translation is, er, idiosyncratic.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Offramp,

I'm after the book a retired player knows gave them a healthy leg-up. (with me...I'm 64 soon, it's Tarrasch's Best Games by Reinfeld...Reinfeld's best book according to Edward Winter.)

Back home and I have '300 games' on hand.

Have you got the original '300 games'. Is it in that game 308 appears last.

My English copy finishes with the 1894 Leipzig Tournament and the last game is numbered 300.

The last game is a loss for Tarrasch.

Lipke vs Tarrasch, 1894

Of course he makes the reader fully aware he had already clinched first place so he was in a relaxed frame of mind and (again we are reminded) Lipke finished 2nd so he was not too bad a player. :)

One odd thing I noticed.

In the intro to the 1894 Leipzig tournament Tarrasch mentions the talented newcomers. Schlecter, Teichmann and Janowski and then goes on to say in the coming years these three in particular would reach the highest level of master play.

The original, apparently, was published in 1896.....How did he know?

(obviously some updating after the original because this book was re-printed many many times. It took the English speaking world only 100 years to finally get around to translating it.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Geoff, I was going by memory but I have now dragged out my copy.

I also consulted the following very useful Game Collection: Tarrasch's Dreihundert Schachpartien by User: Honza Cervenka.

That collection gives the following, <Game 300, Petersburg match, November 1893 Chigorin vs Tarrasch, 1893 (C00) French Defense, 58 moves, 1-0>, ie Chigorin vs Tarrasch, 1893.

That might be from the German edition of the book. In any case, Tarasch seems to have included almost every game he played up until 1894. It's such a shame he didn't do a second volume from 1895 to 1914 or so. He must have been too busy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: From the intro:

<Kasparov ...noted that the contestants "fought literally to the to the last pawn...">

Either that is a bad translation or Kasparov is not using the word literally literally.

No games went to the last pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Sally Simpson: Hi Offramp,

I have the Hays English edition printed in 1999.

I think we can agree Kasparov was using a figure of speech the added ' literally' is a mistake.

Tarrasch did continue writing, he was editor of the magazine 'Deutsche Schachzeitung.' I bet there are some pearls there.

He also wrote 'Die moderne Schachpartie ' another hailed classic, we will probably see that in English in another 100 years.

Till that great day I have my German 'chat up' copy.

'Chat up Copy'.

A few years back I was struggling with a passage and in a stroke of inspiration I took it to a students bar (Edinburgh is full of them) and found a pretty female German student to translate it for me.

She could actually play chess (and drink!), quite a good evening.

A good way to introduce yourself to a girl that one. The perfect chat up line. "Excuse me can you please translate this for me?" I only did it once but no reason why it cannot be used again.

So if you are lonely, unmarried, looking for love and feel life is passing is you by...

Get yourself a foreign chess book and head for the bars.

Mar-28-16  zanzibar: My oh my, what's "his" fuss all about?

One wonders, how much "my" is really "his"?

* * * * *

There's lots of early Russian chess history which is overlooked, I think.

E.g. the official sponsor of the tournament seems to be missing from this intro.

But this game is mentioned in the <North Otago Times, Volume XXXVII, Issue 7876, 16 January 1894, Page 1> as winning "First Prize in the St. Petersburg Chess Journal Tournament".

They also add the following:

<Winning this game saved the stakes of L250. It must be admitted that Tchigorin surpassed himself in the conduct of the whole of this game, whilst the ending is a perfect gem.--The Field>


Mar-28-16  zanzibar: Also, concerning who challenged who(m) first...

<The return of Tschigorin, in April last, put a little vitality into the St. Petersburg chess circles, and several departures from the humdrum of their ordinary existence are to be chronicled. On the 27th April, the maestro played eight games simultaneously sans voir, winning 7 and losing 1. His game with M. Batalin was of special interest, since the latter accepted the Evans and adopted the defence recommended to Steinitz by Alapin. Tschigorin announced mate in 5 on the 20th move. The following day Tschigorin was entertained to dinner by the club, and a letter from Dr. Tarrasch containing a challenge to a match was read. It was decided there and then to invite the Nuremburg master to St. Petersburg, and a subscription list was opened to defray the necessary expenses. Dr. Tarrasch proposed Berlin as the meeting place, and July as the date, but Tschigorin has now offered to arrange for the contest to take place in his own city, some time between October and December. The announcement by German chess columns that details had been settled and that the match would be played in Berlin was at least premature; Tschigorin will not go there, and indeed it is our turn to have an international contest. While negotiations with Dr. Tarrasch were going on, Tschigorin received a telegram from New York, proposing a correspondence match with Steinitz: one game an Evans, Steinitz to defend with 6..., Q—K B 3, and the other a Two Kt's Defence, White's eighth move stipulated. Tschigorin at once telegraphed his willingness to play, but probably the match will be postponed owing to Mr. Steinitz's recent bereavement.>

BCM v12 p349 Aug 1892

Oct-01-17  ughaibu: A Gorilla fan, great!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: I suppose the book series should have been punctuated:

Garry Kasparov: On my Great Predecessors

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: Kasparov's OMGP series is referred to on CG.COM pages with regularity, but what I really want for Christmas is an English translation of Huebner's critiques from Schach magazine! Maybe I just need to learn Deutsch...

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