A Georgian Prince


    ~ Remembering our friends in the independent country of Georgia. ~  


Some of you might already know his name.  Most who do generally have preconceptions based more on hearsay than on facts.


    Andrei Davidovich Dadiani (b. 1850)
was the second son of David Dadiani, the Duke of Dukes of Mingrelia (a province in western Georgia). Andrei's older brother, Nikolai (b. 1847) was heir apparent to the throne, but fate dealt him a cruel blow in 1857 when the Russian Empire, of which Migrelia was already a part, took over the rule of the country. However, the tsar apparently included  generous stipends in the deal and the Dadiani family lived in relative financial comfort and still retained their royal titles.  Prince Dadian became a well-known chess-player.

Having learned to play chess as a child from his parents, Dadian learned to really play from Thomas Wilson Barnes (the man with the best record against Morphy) in 1864 in Homberg, Germany where the Dadians and the Barnes were both vacationing. While there, Dadian entered and won his first tournament. In 1867 Dadian played Ignatz Kolisch, one of the strongest players of that time (and who would soon retire from active chess) in Paris.

After graduating from the Heidelberg University Faculty of Law in 1873, he served in the Russian Army as a lieutenant-general.
     1873 he defeated prince Villafranca (+7 -2 =1)  [and according to Chess Monthly, he also "defeated Count Casabianca, M. de Vaufrelan, Jean Preti, and Ferry d'Esclande."]
     1874 he beat W. Liselle (+5 -1 =1); Polner (+1 -0 =) and Schoumoff (1-0)
     1880 he played a series of games with Serafino Dubois, with even results.
     1882 he defeated M.A. Clerc in a series of 5 games.
     1888 he beat M.A. de Smitten (+7-2=3)
     1901 at Monte Carlo, Dadian supplied the 500 franc brilliancy prize.
     1903 at Monte Carlo, Dadian was President of the organizing committee.
     1904 at Monte Carlo, Dadian supplied 2 additional prizes of 300 francs.
     1905 Dadian opened the Chess Congress in Barmen.

Besides the tournament in Homberg. Dadian is said to have participated in  tournaments at Rome, to have won the Petersburg amateur chess tournament in 1881-1882 as well as placing second in the  Kiev city tournament, behind  Nikolaev in 1900  and first in the Kiev city tournament in 1904.

 Prince Dadian died in Kiev on June 12, 1910.


Those are the basic facts of his chess life, but there is so much more.


Dadian played a sparkling form of chess in the fashion of Anderssen and Morphy.  He produced some lovely gems which he was able to have published in La Stratégie magazine and in Steinitz' New York Daily Tribune chess column particularly after enclosing a sizable check.  Tschigorin, however, wasn't so enamored with Dadian and analyzed his games in a rather harsh light in his own chess column in the Russian newspaper, Novoe Vremya. Due in part to Tschigorin's criticisms (as well as to a perceived social snub by Tschigorin during a visit to Kiev where Dadian lived for about his last 20 years), Dadian and Tschigorin were on poor terms. This tension exploded when Dadian, who was sponsoring the 1903 Monte Carlo Tournament, effectively banned Tschigorin from participating after he arrived from Russia (while paying his for his time and expenses).  Dadian gradually faded from the Chess scene and after his death various accusations began to surface.  Among these was that Dadian paid players to lose to him in brilliant fashion. This accusation later morphed into one that claimed he invented his games.

But all indications point to the idea that Dadian was a clever and gifted player who was quite capable of creating his own brilliancies.  Proof of this, to me, lies in a consultation game in which Dadian and Emanuel Schiffers played white against C.F. Lebedev and V. N. Yurevich.  During this game Dadian insisted on a move that Schiffers vehemently disagreed with. When Dadian insisted, Schiffers left the game, but returned after he calmed down to find that Dadian's move had been brilliantly subtle.

The game:








Concerning White's ninth move, Isidor Gunsberg, in the London Daily News, wrote:
"Nc3 is always a good move in this move in this opening: it was played at an earlier stage by Marshall at Vienna with some effect against Marco, but as in this particular position the move is somewhat staggering and difficult to deal with by an analyst, we will content ourselves by describing it as an intense effort of Oriental imaginativeness, which may pass without further sacrilegious, cold reasoning comment. It seems, however, that Schiffers is not imbued with the same reverential feeling toward imaginativeness as we are, for he would not give his consent to this move, and actually left the board, only resuming play a few moves later on when he discovered that there is more in such moves than actually meets the eye for the moment."


The above photograph of Prince Dadian comes from Tengiz Giorgadze's  "Ygraet A. Dadian" published by "Soviet Georgia" in Tbilisi, 1972.