Mikhail Chigorin and Wilhelm Steinitz conducted a telegraph match from October 23, 1890 - April 28, 1891. Steinitz made his moves in New York City, while Chigorin was in St. Petersburg.⁽¹⁻²⁾ It was a famous, and widely covered match where Steinitz and Chigorin played two games from pre-agreed starting positions,⁽³⁾ presumably to settle assertions made by Steinitz in his recent book, Modern Chess Instructor,⁽⁴⁾ that were contested by Chigorin. The two had played many Evans Gambit games in their Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889), where Steinitz's innovation of 6...Qf6 was put to the test. This time, the additional moves 7.d4 Nh6 were stipulated, to match the position on page 164 of Steinitz's book.
Evans Gambit: Chigorin - Steinitz
(White to move)
click for larger view
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.O-O Qf6 7.d4 Nh6
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The other opening involved the Two Knights defense, and in this case Steinitz was White, and his innovation of 9.Nh3 was the move in question. Robert James Fischer was to resurrect this variation in Fischer vs Bisguier, 1963.
Two Knights Defense: Steinitz - Chigorin
(Black to move)
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1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6 9.Nh3
(Note the games were played simultaneously, with Chigorin having first move in both games, though having different colors in each.)
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Each player had 48 hours to make their moves, and were allowed to consult with one other player. Steinitz utilized Isidor Gunsberg, and Chigorin teamed up with Andrey A Markov. Steinitz also reports that six one-day delays were allowed, that time saved was carried over, and that fines of $5/day were applied, with a player exceeding their time for over 10 days losing the match. The stakes were $750 a side. Celso Golmayo Zupide, from Cuba, served as referee. Albert von Rothschild served as stakeholder. Two umpires were also used, Professor Isaac Leopold Rice in New York, and Herr Peter Alexandrovich Saburov in St. Petersburg.
The first moves were cabled by Chigorin on Thursday night, October 23, 1890. The moves were cabled by Reuter's (London) and Associated Press (New York) to newspapers throughout the world. Steinitz himself, recently hired as chess columnist for the New York Daily Tribune, covered the games in detail, sometimes overly optimistically.⁽⁵⁾ As it turns out, the cable match was suspended midway through in order for Steinitz to play his collaborator Gunsberg in a match for the world championship: Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890).
The match was widely billed as matching the Old School Romantic style of Chigorin against the positional Modern School style of Steinitz. At the beginning of the match, Steinitz summed it up himself to a reporter: I am guided by the position judgment in the main, and generally do not proceed with the examination of details until after my opponent has actually made his move. You see, I am an old master of the young school and Chigorin is a young master of the old school. If I don’t commit an error, I fancy I shall win both games because I have a pawn to the good in either and according to the principles I laid down, I must win.⁽³⁾
Steinitz did not win. Instead he resigned both games on April 28, 1891.
Chigorin 1 1 2
Steinitz 0 0 0
(1) New York Tribune 1890.10.26 - http://www.chessarch.com/excavation...
(2) New York Tribune 1891.04.29 - http://www.chessarch.com/excavation...
(3) Chess Life, June 2010, Jon R Edwards - History - http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/art...
(4) The Modern Chess Instructor, by Steinitz (1889) - https://archive.org/details/modernc...
(5) 64 Great Chess Games, by Timothy David Harding (Chess Mail Ltd 2002), p. 24.
Original collection: Game Collection: Steinitz--Chigorin Telegraph Match (1890-1891) by User: zanzibar.