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Mikhail Chigorin

Number of games in database: 897
Years covered: 1874 to 1907
Overall record: +460 -276 =154 (60.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 7 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 French Defense (82) 
    C00 C01 C11 C14 C12
 French (60) 
    C00 C11 C13 C10 C12
 King's Gambit Declined (58) 
    C30 C31
 Evans Gambit (58) 
    C52 C51
 King's Gambit Accepted (45) 
    C33 C34 C37 C39 C38
 Ruy Lopez (30) 
    C65 C77 C80 C68 C67
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (97) 
    C77 C66 C65 C78 C67
 Queen's Pawn Game (49) 
    D02 D05 D00 D04 A46
 Chigorin Defense (30) 
 King's Gambit Accepted (30) 
    C39 C37 C33 C38
 Queen's Gambit Declined (24) 
    D31 D30 D37
 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
   V Knorre vs Chigorin, 1874 0-1
   Lasker vs Chigorin, 1895 0-1
   Chigorin vs J Mortimer, 1900 1-0
   Gunsberg vs Chigorin, 1890 0-1
   Schiffers vs Chigorin, 1897 1/2-1/2
   Chigorin vs Davydow, 1874 1-0
   Chigorin vs Schlechter, 1905 1/2-1/2
   Pillsbury vs Chigorin, 1896 0-1

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

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Chigorin - Tarrasch (1893)
   Chigorin - Gunsberg (1890)
   Budapest (1896)
   Vienna (1903)
   6th American Chess Congress, New York (1889)
   Hastings (1895)
   2nd All-Russian Tournament (1901)
   Monte Carlo (1901)
   2nd DSB Congress, Berlin (1881)
   London (1883)
   Vienna (1898)
   Paris (1900)
   London (1899)
   Monte Carlo (1902)
   Vienna (1882)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   C Players, Featuring Chigorin Chopped Fredthebea by fredthebear
   Match Chigorin! by amadeus
   Santasiere's "My Love Affair With Tchigorin" by doug27
   Santasiere's "My Love Affair With Tchigorin" by Resignation Trap
   Challengers Chigo & Marshall forget brilliancies by Gottschalk
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 78 by 0ZeR0
   New York 1889 by Mal Un
   New York 1889 by suenteus po 147
   y1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by plerranov
   y1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by fredthebear
   My Short Notes I (2014) by Knight13
   Gambito de Rey by Chessdreamer
   Vienna 1898 by Mal Un
   Vienna 1898 by suenteus po 147

   Janowski vs A Goetz, 1891
   Tartakower vs Vidmar, 1907

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Chigorin
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(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 36; games 1-25 of 899  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Chigorin vs Davydow 1-0271874St. PetersburgC37 King's Gambit Accepted
2. V Knorre vs Chigorin 0-1141874St PetersburgC50 Giuoco Piano
3. Chigorin vs Shumov 1-0251875St Petersburg cgC34 King's Gambit Accepted
4. Chigorin vs Gratchevsky  1-0181875Knight Odds Game000 Chess variants
5. NN vs Chigorin 0-1271875St. PetersburgC37 King's Gambit Accepted
6. Chigorin vs Alapin 1-0291875St PetersburgB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
7. Chigorin vs A Ascharin  1-0291875St Petersburg Chess ClubC27 Vienna Game
8. Winawer vs Chigorin 1-0281875St. Petersburg National tC52 Evans Gambit
9. Chigorin vs A Ascharin 1-0291875St. Petersburg National tB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
10. Schiffers vs Chigorin  0-1371876St. Petersburg Tournament-AC51 Evans Gambit
11. Chigorin vs Shumov 1-0261876St. PetersburgC21 Center Game
12. Shumov vs Chigorin  1-0541876St. PetersburgB40 Sicilian
13. Chigorin vs K Miasnikov 1-0201876corrC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
14. Chigorin vs I Miasnikov 1-0161876CasualC37 King's Gambit Accepted
15. Chigorin vs Schiffers  0-1361876St. PetersburgC50 Giuoco Piano
16. Chigorin vs A Ascharin  0-1451876St. Petersburg Tournament-AC25 Vienna
17. Chigorin vs A Khardin 1-0371877St. PetersburgC33 King's Gambit Accepted
18. Alapin vs Chigorin 0-1211877St. Petersburg National tC33 King's Gambit Accepted
19. Chigorin vs A Ascharin 1-0251877St. PetersburgB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
20. Chigorin vs M Beskrovny 1-0401877St. PetersburgC59 Two Knights
21. Chigorin vs A Ascharin  ½-½391877St. Petersburg National tC25 Vienna
22. Chigorin vs Alapin  1-0311877St. Petersburg National tC33 King's Gambit Accepted
23. Chigorin vs H Clemenz  0-1241877St. Petersburg National tC30 King's Gambit Declined
24. Chigorin vs Schiffers  1-0501877St. Petersburg National tC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
25. Schiffers vs Chigorin 1-0201877St. Petersburg National tC11 French
 page 1 of 36; games 1-25 of 899  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>
Dec-26-14  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.

May-21-15  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++
May-22-15  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++

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Jan-25-16  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?

Feb-12-16  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?
Apr-07-16  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.
May-27-17  zanzibar: <

Event "casual"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "1899.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Chigorin, Mikhail"]
[Black "Allies"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C29"]
[EventDate "1899.??.??"]
[Source "NY Literary Digest 1899.12.16"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.d3 exf4 5.Bxf4 Bb4 6.e5 d4 7.exf6 dxc3 8. Qe2+ Be6 9.b3 gxf6 10.Qe4 Nc6 11.Nf3 Qd7 12.a3 O-O-O 13.axb4 Bd5 14. Qe2 Rde8 15.Be3 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Nd4 17.Qf2 Rxe3+ 18.Kd1 Qg4+ 19.Kc1 Qf4 0-1


"This game is worth studying as showing the weakness of the 'Vienna'".

Nov-12-17  brankat: There are no weaknesses in "Vienna". It is a beautiful city.

R.I.P. Master Mikhail.

Feb-25-18  zanzibar: <brankat> ha! Never got to visit it myself, alas.

* * * * *

A nice version of a Chigorin blindfold simul:

Wonder if any of these games were published?

Mar-01-18  tgyuid: II; romulus
Sep-02-18  Jean Defuse: ...

<Chigorin quickest defeat?>

[Event "27-board simultaneous display"]
[Date "1901.09.24"]
[White "Bostandjoglo, M N."]
[Black "Chigorin, Mikhail Ivanovich"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C65"]
[PlyCount "25"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Be7 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 Nd7 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Qd5 O-O 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. Qxc6 Nb6 11. Nd5 Bd6 12. Nxb6 cxb6 13. Qxa8 1-0 resigns.

Source: Wiener Schach-Zeitung 1902, p. 16.


Sep-02-18  JimNorCal: I quite enjoyed playing over the games in Caissa Editions' book on Chigorin.
Aug-07-19  NoraNora: Please get back Chigorin's notable games!
Mar-03-20  Pyrandus: My friends! Do you know (that) Chigorin has make oft some incredible Blunders???
Mar-03-20  Petrosianic: Speaking of blunders, that should be "MADE" some blunders, not "make".
Feb-16-23  AlekhineSyndrome: Mikhail Chigorin:The Creative Chess Genius amzing book amazing player i learnt alot!
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