Lesser Known Games of Prince Dadian

  • batgirl
  • | Aug 7, 2013

     I have some games of Prince Andrei Dadiani of Mingrelia that one usually can't find in any database.  I had published these elsewhere, but wanted to put them all in one place.

     First a few words about Prince Dadian.

     Today most people believe that Prince Dadian's "masterpieces" were staged, either pre-arranged or simply bought and paid for. During Dadian's life this accusation wasn't so publicly accepted nor expressed, but it's not clear whether this was so out of fear of reprisal or because it was slanderous and simply wasn't true.  The public's opinions of Dadian was colored by the press, usually comprised of poor chess writers, who benefited from his "generosity."  It's equally true that the ones who gave life to the accusation had personal conflicts with Dadian.  So the problem is how to ascertain the truth. First it must be pointed out that there were other less damning but more provable accusations. Dadian was criticized for only sending in his more brilliant wins for publication without mentioning his losses, giving the false impression that he seldom lost or that his opponent was less adept. Secondly, some of his "brilliant" games were shown to be less sound after careful analysis.

       Most of the allegations of pre-arranged games occurred after the incident with Tschigorin in Monte Carlo in 1903, but they all seemed to have had their roots in a separate series of incidents that occurred in Kiev in 1902 and stemmed from the more provable accusations listed above. Dadian had played a series of 12 games with Fyodor Ivanovich Duz-Khotimirsky, a strong local player, winning only 3. One of these wins was particularly charming and Dadian sent that game to "La Strategie" for publication - without mentioning the details of the series.  Duz-Khotimirsky (or the chess club itself), who felt he was treated unfairly, chose Duz' best win in that series for publication.  Dadian construed this action as an insult and challenged the officers of the chess club, presumably Duz-Khotimirsky too, to a duel (which never occurred).  Two days later, Tschigorin arrived in Kiev for a tournament that was about to take place. Dadian invited Tschigorin to his home, but Tschigorin, aware of the recent incident and either afraid or wishing to avoid any complications, declined the Prince's invitation. Dadian took this as a great insult. Tschigorin  had, in the course of things, annotated some of Dadian's games in his chess column without the deep praise Dadian was accustomed to receiving.

    The following year when Tschigorin arrived at Monte Carlo to play in the tournament for which he had been invited, Dadian, who presided over the tournament, threatened to bow out if Tschigorin were permitted to play. The committee acquiesced to Dadian's demand and barred Tschigorin from participating. Although Dadian compensated Tschigorin for his time and expenses, Tschigorin was rightfully upset. Some of his most damaging accusations seemed to have emerged after this incident.

     One can also refer an article I wrote called Dadian, a Different Persective.

     Because of their innate beauty and creativity, many games by Prince Dadian of Mingrelia are well known.  The following game is bold and clever, but relatively unknown.  I found the game in a an article published in the "Krymska Svitlytsya."  Dadian is playing against a Russian master of that time, S. Kostrovitsky of St. Petersburg.




     The following 2 games I found in Steinitz' "International Chess Magazine," Feb. and April, 1891.  Since he only mentioned that the games were recently played and had been sent to him via Numa Preti of "La Strategie," I assigned them the arbitrary, but reasonable year of 1890.

     The first game is a Muzio played against an amateur in St. Petersburg, Count P. Kreutz.
      [Actually, I found later that this game has already been noted (at chessgames.com) but the opponent's name is erroneously given as Kreutzahler.  The "Nuova Rivista degli Scacchi" of Feb. 1900  listed the opponent's name as Gen. P. Krentz with the game being played in Odessa 1883.  However, WilhelmThe2nd, who is the closest thing I know to being an expert on Prince Dadian notes :   "Chess is at present in high favour among the aristocratic circles of Russian society in St. Petersburg, and this through the influence of the well-known amateur, Prince Dadian of Mingrelia. Every Tuesday meetings are held at the home of General Count P. Kreutz; on Tuesdays (sic; Thursdays?) at that of Colonel Boutourline, and on Saturdays the elegant salons of Count H. Kreutz, on the banks of the Neva, are at the disposal of the players. Prince Dadian, at the moment, holds the first place in point of strength at these gatherings." ('The Week', July 3rd, 1884, pg. 494)]



     The next  game has Dadian playing A. de Smitten, an opponent against whom we already have 2 preserved games at chessgames.com, one of which is very similar to this one.

[In the process of researching for this article, I found the first game posted by the aforementioned WilhelmThe2nd but not in any database. He adds:  M.A. de Smitten was one of the strongest amateur players living in Tiflis when Prince Dadian was stationed there while serving in the Tsar's army. According to 'The Chess Monthly' (vol. 13, #154-155, June-July, 1892): "In 1888, at Tiflis, he beat M.A. de Smitten in a set match of seven games up, by 7 to 2 and 3 draws, as well as a large majority of off-hand games." ]


     Another game against de Smitten from a different source and an earlier time, "Nuova Rivista degli Scacchi," August, 1880:

     This de Smitten game came from the "BCM" in 1890.

     The final game here with de Smitten I found reprinted from the NY "Tribune" in the "N. Otago Times" Sept. 20, 1892.



     Chess has been called the Game of Kings.  It seems to be also the Game of Princes.  Below are  games between Prince Dadian on Mingrelia and  three other princes.


     The maiden issue of the "British Chess Magazine," January 1881 informs us:
Russia.—A tourney for players of the first rank took place recently at St. Petersburg, with three prizes of 400, 200, and 100 francs presented by the Chess Circle of that city. There were six entries, Messrs. Alapine, Bezkrowny, Clemenz, Ourjoumsky, Schiffers, and Tchigorine, and the result was that Messrs. Alapine and Tchigorine tied for the first prize, and had to play a little match of two games up to decide the claim to highest honours. The victory, as we learn from La Strategie for March 15th, ultimately rested with M. Tchigorine. The third prize was gained by M. Clemenz. M. Bezkrowny was unfortunately obliged by ill health to withdraw from the tourney. M. Tchigorine, the editor of the Russian magazine "Schakmatni Listok," has been trying his hand for the first time in blindfold play with much success, for he contended simultaneously with five strong opponents, and defeated three of them, but had to strike his flag to the other two. In another tourney which also came off lately at St. Petersburg the combatants were Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, who gained the first prize, Prince Tristoff, Prince Matchabelli, and Messrs. Jemchoujnikoff (second prize), Kostrovitsky, Liselle, and Pouchkine. Shortly afterwards Prince Dadian engaged in two matches of five games up each; the first with Prince Matchabelli, who did not succeed in making any score, and the other with M. Liselle, the result of which was Prince Dadian 5, M. Liselle 1.

     A game with Liselle can be viewed at chessgames.com.  Chessgames.com lists it as 1882, but clearly it took place in 1880. We all have heard of Prince Matchabelli perfume (in fact the originator of the perfume line, Giorgi Machabeli, was himself a Georgian prince born in 1885), but I couldn't find much about the Prince Matchabelli above.  However Dadian beat him in the tourney and then slaughtered him in a match.

     David Gurgenidze, President of Georgian Chess Composition Association and Grandmaster for chess composition, who has a deep interest in Dadian, informed me:

     Dadian's opponent in the first game was Prince Vasil Machabeli, Giorgi Machabeli's father. He was a lawyer and he hosted that 1880 tournament in his residence in St. Petersburg. I have 8 games between Machabeli and Dadiani in my collection. The picture above depicts Vasil Machabeli (right) and famous Georgian writer Ilia Chavchavadze playing chess. (St. Petersburg, 1873)


     Below is a game between the two princes -

     The "Nuova Rivista degli Scacchi," Aug. 1880 gave a game between Prince Andrei Dadian and Prince Gregorio Dadian.  (Mr. Gurgenidze further infomed me that Grigol Dadian was Andria's uncle. He was a poet and general of the Russian army.)


     In the following game, published in the "Nuova Rivista degli Scacchi" in 1881, Prince Dadian played the Prince de Villafranca who had been a fixture in chess circles for at least 20 years. Prince Dadian had beaten Prince de Villafranca in a match +7-2=1


     The "BCM" reported in 1899
     M. Schirmer writes to the Stratigie, that " Kieff has organised a tourney between the students of the town, and that they propose to set on foot one still more important. Prince Dadian, of Mingrelia, whose brilliant play is much admired, has been recognised as the strongest player there.  His last victory was against M. Saloucha, professor of music in the cadets' corps, although the latter won four games following with M. Levin (Alexander Mitrofanovich Levin), who is esteemted stronger. Mons. Levin won a match against M. Tchigorin in consultation, and his friends think that he may aspire to the championship."

     The "Deutsche Schachzeitung" gave essentially the same report from Schirmer but with the added information:
     Das Café Warschau ist der hervorragendste Zusammenkunftsort der Schachspieler in Kiew. Dort erscheint zuweilen auch Prinz Dadian von Mingrelien. Seitdem er Schabelsky und Nicolaew besiegte, gilt er als der stärkste Spieler. Loosely translated means that Prince Dadian sometimes makes appearances at the Warsaw Cafe, the most outstanding  meeting place for chess players in Kiev.

     Schirmer had the opportunity to test himself against Prince Dadian two years earlier.  This game and the next one both came fron the April 1899 issue of the  "Nuova Rivista degli Scacchi" :


     Here is a game between Prince Dadian and Michael Sicard. I had previously published another game between the two from the same time with annotations by Tschigorin.

     In 1879-80 Prince Dadian had played a match with the Italian champion, Serafino Dubois, which resulted in an even score.  Here's one of the games from that match.

     Chessgames.com lists one short game  between Prince Dadian and F. I. Duz-Chotimirsky. Duz-Chotimirsky, the Kiev champion in 1900, 1902, 1903 and 1906, is sometimes credited with teaching Alekhine chess. Although he and Prince Dadian had some association, any friendliness ended after Prince Dadian lost a match to Duz-Chotimirsky, but only offered for publication a game he, Dadian, had won, but none that Duz-Chotimirsky had won.   (On this page there's a photo from the 2nd All-Russian contest, including Duz-Chotimirsky and Tschigorin, and on this page excerpts for Duz-Chotimirsky's essay, "Memories of Tschigorin.")

     from Duz-Chotimirsky's memoirs:
     "Dadian as a general could not participate in official games, therefore he invited strong players to his home and played with them there. Personally I, a 23-year old fellow, was often there, and stayed to have dinner. Once we played a match of 12 games from which Dadian won only 3, losing the rest. In one game, it is true, he won beautifully. Dadian had the habit of sending a good game with his own notes to Paris, to the journal "La Strategie", where he had many friends. This game he won was, of course, immediately sent there. The magazine soon published it. I was outraged. The Mingrelian Prince himself was also dissatisfied. " I did not send it in this form ", - he said. Friends did not give me any rest,  insisting that I also have published the most beautiful game won by me from the Prince in the newspaper. And so that game appeared in the press …"
I posted another win by Prince Dadian over Duz-Chotimirsky, annotated by Tschigorin, HERE -

     Below is a game between  Dadian and Duz-Chotimirsky, played in 1902, won by Duz-Chotimirsky originally published in the "Kievskaya Gazeta." (found by WilhelmThe2nd  ). 

     Prince Dadian played and won a 5-game match with Albert Clerc, a middle-weight master,  in Paris, 1882.

     Below are games between Prince Dadian and a variety of amateurs:


     And a game at Knight-odds-

     While the game between Prince Dadian and M. Bitcham is very well known, the "BCM"  of Nov.1897  published a second, seldom seen game in the same article.  I decided to replicate the entire article below (along with annotations by Rev. Charles E. Ranken): 



     WE wonder how many of our readers know where Mingrelia is. It is a province of Asiatic Russia, lying between the chain of the Caucasus and the Black Sea. It has, we believe, a language of its own, and the Dadian or Prince, we understand, is the titular ruler. Obscure though his country may be, the name of the Prince is known throughout the chess world as that of an original and brilliant player. He has been good enough to send us a selection of his games, which from time to time, as space permits, we shall have much pleasure in publishing. We have also received from a correspondent some account of his Most Serene Highness' life, from which we gather the following particulars. He was born at Zondidi, the capital of Mingrelia, and from infancy displayed an extraordinary liking for various branches of science. His family used to spend the winters at Paris, and from the age of 14 the Prince began to write good French verse, and as an exercise to compose fictitious tales which astonished his Professors. Endowed with a powerful memory, he can recite an immense quantity of poetry; he speaks six modern languages, and his erudition is known throughout Europe. He has played chess from his boyhood, and at Vienna, in 1882, after the banquet which took place at the close of the International Tourney there, he played a blindfold game with such accuracy that the masters who were present applauded him heartily. Nevertheless, on account of his other occupations the Prince rarely plays chess, and is far from having the practice of other masters. His end-games are very beautiful, and will remain as chéf-d'oeuvres in the literature of chess.
The following games will be found worthy specimens of his skill.


     Several more games:

Another game between Prince Dadian and Michael Sicard can be found above



     Some games played by Prince Dadian in consultation.


  • 2 years ago


    cluster of kings gambit magics......

  • 3 years ago


    The pronunciation is DAH-dee-ahn.

  • 3 years ago


    Here are some interesting passages from the "BCM" and the "Wiener Schachzeitung" throughout the years:

    BCM Dec. 1886
    Russia.—It has been publicly stated that the Russian candidate for the Bulgarian throne is Prince Michael, the Dadian of Mingrelia, who is well known as a brilliant Chess-player. If the Bulgarians are to have no free choice of their future ruler it may be better that the Prince who is forced upon them should at any rate possess the mental qualifications indicated by his being a proficient in such a noble and difficult game as Chess. For the benefit of those not acquainted with the locality, we may mention that Mingrelia is on the Eastern side of the Black Sea.

    BCM  Jan. 1887
    The "Schachzeitung" humorously suggests that England, France, and Russia should adjust their political differences by a "triangular duel," or series of Chess matches at Sofia, their respective champions being Lord R. Churchill, President Grevy, and either M. Sabouroff, or the Dadian of Mingrelia.

    BCM April 1893
    The Dadian of Mingrelia has offered a brilliancy prize for the New York Chess Congress this summer, and has asked Mr. Steinitz to act as judge of the games sent in for the competition. The officers and committee of the Congress have been elected. The president is Mr. Gil berg, of the Brooklyn Club, and the secretary Dr. Jentz, of the Manhattan Club.

    BCM May 1893
    There are numerous chess amateurs at Tiflis; a club has been formed, and thanks to the activity of Herr Erdeli, several tourneys are in progress. The Dadian of Mingrelia does not visit the club, but he has beaten many of its members in private contests, and now gives them all the Pawn and move. The Prince is expected at Odessa shortly, and probably the local players will take advantage of his presence to found a new club.

    BCM Nov. 1895
    Last winter the Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, played fifteen simultaneous games at the Chess Club of Tiflis, and won them all.
    With the officers of a Russian regiment at Odessa he was less successful, only winning in a series of games 7 to 3, but there are some good players at Odessa, and a club is shortly to be founded there.

    BCM Dec. 1899
    M. Schirmer writes to the "Stratigie" that " Kieff has organised a tourney between the students of the town, and that they propose to set on foot one still more important. Prince Dadian, of Mingrelia, whose brilliant play is much admired, has been recognised as the strongest player there. His last victory was against M. Saloucha, professor of music in the cadets' corps, although the latter won four games following with M. Levin, who is esteemtd stronger. Mons. Levin won a match against M. Tchigorin in consultation, and his friends think that he may aspire to the championship."

    Wiener Schachzeitung Nov. 1900
    Aus Kiew. In einem hier kürzlich abgehaltenen Turnier gewann der Prinz Dadian von Mingrelien in Gemeinschaft mit B. A. Nicolajew den I., beziehungsweise II . Preis.

    BCM Dec. 1901
    Prince Ourousoff recently spent some days at Kieff, and played numerous games with great success. With the Prince Dadian of Mingrelia he played only two single games, which he lost, but won a consultation game in which Prince Dadian was taking part.

    BCM Feb. 1904
    Prince Dadian of Mingrelia has been holding a chess tourney at his own residence at Kieff, in which he took part himself, and won the first prize. The second prize was divided between Messieurs Saloncha (a veteran of Kieff) and two other local players.

  • 3 years ago


    Well, Schiffers, nobody's fool, became an ardent admirer of Dadian and even published a book of Dadian's End Games, "Fins de partie de S.A.S. le Prince Dadian de Mingrélie" a year before Schiffers died.  To be fair, Dadian was probably assisting the sickly Schiffers financially through the book, but the relationship would be strange without a certain mutual respect. 

    Dadian didn't play hacks but decent players. Lebedev was a participant in the all-Russian championships. He played Barnes and Kolisch as a youth (beating Kolisch in at least two casual games). 

    1901 Moscow, 2nd All-Russian Championship
    F.I. Duz-Chotimirsky, K.V. Rozenkrantz, D.M. Janowski, S.V. Lebedev, V.N. Kulomzin
    E. S. Schiffers, S.V. Antushev, V.I. Tabunshchikov, M.I. Tschigorin


  • 3 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    Actually, given the obscurity of his opponents, I have to agree that the games being composed is unlikely.  I mean, why not instead pay a better known player to collaborate on a more convincing and noteworthy "brilliancy" (Adams-Torre, cough, cough)?  That said, I suspect we all know our own local mini-Mieses whose main speciality is, after a dashingly unsound opening sacrifice or two, stumbling into a Philidor's mate against a particularly helpful opponent and then parading the result to all and sundry and, well, to be frank, Dadian just seems like a particularly colorful member of this species. 

    As far as the source for the Schiffers story, I don't see anything suggesting Schiffers himself reported walking out after 9.Nc3.  There are many possible interpretations of what is likely to have occured, but the one that makes the most sense to me is:

    1) Dadian plays 9.Nc3 (?!, at best)

    2) Schiffers objects because he feels (with justification) that the move is bad and "walks out" (probably figuratively, as he manages to track subsequent events in the game)

    3) Black blunders with 11...Bf5(??)

    4) Schiffers, bemused at the turn of events, rejoins the game, wins, and publishes the score and result.

    What we don't currently know is if Schiffers mentions walking out - it would at first appear to cast him in an embarrasing light  but if he explained his reasoning the whole thing might have gained a vaguely humorous and in any event much less unflattering aspect.

    Anyhow, thank you for the fun article, though I'm as yet undecided on whether Dadian was an inventive iconoclast with a love of chess that his exalted position forbade him to fully indulge, or an egocentric charlatan with a superficial knack for cheap sacrifices against very weak opponents.  Perhaps he's both. :)

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for your thoughful comments, GB.

    I did incorporate a brief history of clocks and time controls in a previous article, History of Blitz. It's certainly possible to pursue this deeper, but I'm afraid it would just prove tedious for readers.

    There's no doubt at all the Prince Dadian sent games to various publications (along with some remuneration) that included a spakling win which didn't necessarily represent the overall picture. It's also true that crossing Dadian wasn't a particularly pleasant notion.  Duz pointed all this out.  But the general idea most people have, if they have any at all, is that Dadian's games were faked... and it's this about which there is no evidence, cirumstantial or otherwise, nor any cause to believe.  It seems to be a rumor that took on it's own life. As Pyotr Romanovsky said about them, ""Do not pay attention, they do not know history..." 

    I haven't read Schiffers' column in "Niva," but it's been my assumption that Schiffers himself was the source. But the point wasn't whether of not the move was sound (in fact it wasn't) or that Schiffers  stayed or went, but that Dadian played his own game, his own way (which was sometimes unsound, but always clever).   Dadian had more than his share of flaws, I feel, but that's part of what is so intriguing about him.

  • 3 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    I'm completely new to this Dadian character, but the whole thing does seem fishy.

    At a cursory glance it's hard to find much hard evidence to counter the rather large circumstantial case for the great majority of these games being either composed or at best cherry picked out of an unknown number of similar attempts at "dashing" attacks against obscure (to put it mildly) opponents; Dadian's consultation game with Schiffers seems the counter-example most often marshaled in his defense.   However, if I'm not mistaken, it is neither Schiffers nor Napier that is responsible for the tale of Schiffers "walking out" after 9.Nc3 but, of all people, Isidor Gunsberg in his column for the London Daily News.  Where Gunsberg got the source for this tale is, as far as I can tell, completely lost in the brambles of antiquity.  Furthermore, even if Schiffers did "walk out", it might well have been justified - the only thing that seems to make the sacrifice work is the inexplicably bad 11...Bf5??, returning the piece for no reason whatsoever (and losing the right to castle in the bargain), and I can definitely see Schiffers returning to the board after such a move. :)

    As far as his victory against Dus-Chotimirski, it's nice but the fact that Dus-Chotimirski is described at the time as a "strong local player" underscores how early in his career this game takes place and is hardly representative of the player that would so famously later defeat the likes of Rubinstein and Lasker.  Also, the again obscure cirumstances of the twelve games suggests they were highly informal affairs (hence Chotimirski's annoyance at seeing them then published for the world to see) unless we are to entertain the idea of a Prince taking the not inconsiderable amount time required to play a dozen-game match at regular time controls.

    Incidentally, perhaps this could be fodder for a future article: the history of the chess clock and time controls in general.  

    Looking forward to that,

    - GB

  • 3 years ago


    A supremely interesting article!

  • 3 years ago


    I never heard anyone pronounce Dadian, but I say it Day-dee-an with the accent on the first syllable. I'm abosolutely no relation to Dadian. I think Dadian was one of the most interesting of chess personalities on par with Morphy and Blackburne.   If you look at this consultation game between Dadian/Schiffers vs. Lebedev/Yurevich at the All-Russian tournament at Kiev, Dec. 1903, Dadian insisted on a particularly weird move that seemed to lose outright by sacking a Bishop unnecessarily with no apparent gain. Schiffers, highly respected as Tschigorin's teacher, was so upset with Dadian's choice, he left the game. But as the game progressed, Dadian's move started to make sense and Schiffers returned, intrigued. Dadian and Schiffers won. No one can convince me Dadian ever invented a game - he had no need.

  • 3 years ago


    Another very impressive post, on a par with the "Queen of Chess" one.  Sarah, your skill in research just blows me away.

    Now, about Dadian--he seems to have been a first-rate second-rate player, a kind of a poor-man's Nezmedinov.  I can understand the doubt associated with some of the games, but his public games and the consultation games show that, while some of his creations may have been a bit unsound, he did have strong attacking chops which succeeded against some strong players.  I think you have done chess a real service by compiling these games and shining a light on a strong talent who was vanishing into the darkness of obscurity.  Again, thanks for this and for other great posts.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Do you know the proper pronunciation of his name?  Would it be dah-DEE-an or DAH-dee-an?  My guess would be the latter.

    2. Would the prince be some kind of distant relative of yours?  Not that it's any of my business or anything, but I was just wondering.  I had never heard of him until I read your earlier posts, and now I swear I know more about his life than the lives of most world champions.

    So, as a bit of an historian myself, I can't thank you enough for the education I've received from you on this and other subjects.  You rock, batgirl!

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    brilliant effort in compiling all these beautiful games...

  • 3 years ago



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