Prince Dadian of Mingrelia
In Bobby Fischer:Profile of a Prodigy, Frank Brady wrote:
"In 1903, Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, president of the Monte Carlo
Tournament Committee, threatened to resign from his post and leave
Monaco if Tchigorin, who was among the strongest players in the
world at that time, and who was about to begin his first game, was
permitted to play. The true origin on the Prince's ire never came to
light but the most compelling accounts indicate either that he had
been slighted by Tchigorin at a party in the Caucasus or was angered
by some of Tchigorin's annotations of the Prince's qualitatively
amateurish games. The potentate's demands prevailed and Tchigorin
quit Monte Carlo and was compelled to return home to Russia.
which is somewhat accurate, as far as it goes, but gives a terribly incomplete picture of the situation.
Monte Carlo 1903
Emil Kemeny wrote a series covering this tournament in his American Chess Weekly magazine. Here is his take on the incident:
Tschigorin Not Permitted to Participate
Tschigorin, one of the foremost exponents of the game, was invited to the Monte Carlo Tournament and he accepted. In the various circulars issued by the committee, his name was given as one of the competitors. He started on his long and tedious journey, reaching Monte Carlo in due time,—to be informed that he could not participate. President of the committee, Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, either ordered his exclusion, or intimated that he would not remain president unless Mr. de Riviere bars Tschigorin, and action was taken accordingly.
Soon as the excitement subsided the writer made an effort to obtain the facts leading up to such an extraordinary proceeding. The Prince being requested to give his version of the case, consulted with a member of the committee and then the writer was informed that an account will appear in a British periodical and the same may be placed before the American readers. The account reads as follows:
"Wednesday, the nth, being an off day the president, Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, gave a dinner to the officers and players at the Hotel des Princes. The Duke de Dino and Commodore Delbois, two appreciative visitors at the daily rounds, were to support the president, but the Commodore only put in an appearance, the Duke de Dino having been indisposed. The masters being desirous of an early withdrawal owing to the second round the following morning, the host made an effort to let them depart without any exhibition of their skill at the chess board. Since then the tournament has passed off without hitch of any kind: it is, therefore, so much more to be regretted that an incident which occurred before the tournament commenced should have marred the proceedings. As the incident is certain to be ventilated in the press, it may as well be mentioned at once.
'Tschigorin arrived on Sunday, and Wolf some days earlier. It was doubtful whether the latter could be admitted, there would have been fifteen instead of the fixed maximum of fourteen players. But Prince Dadian having intimated a strong aversion to Tschigorin's participation, Wolf was admitted in his place. The two other members of the committee pleaded Tschigorin's cause.whereupon the Prince put the case into a nutshell by declaring that if Tschigorin was admitted amongst the competitors he would withdraw from the presidency and leave Monte Carlo that very day. In the circumstances M. de Riviere had no option but to substitute Wolf for Tschigorin. The Prince's reasons for insisting on the exclusion of Tschigorin were that the latter, in spite of many acts of generosity on the part of the Prince, had shown persistent animosity in the press, articles which the Prince considers injuste et inaigne. These articles will be published in justification of the president's action.
It is hardly conceivable that the Prince, who has won golden opinions amongst the players by his courteous and charming manners, should be hostile to a Russian master without just cause, and here the matter rests at present. No doubt Tschigorin will give his version to elucidate the matter. The Prince, as a matter of fact, is willing to indemnify Tschigorin to a reasonable extent."
It is very true, that the Prince won golden opinions amongst the players by his courteous and charming manners, and altogether the article gives a brief and accurate account. But the writer wishes to take exception to the paragraph having reference to Wolf. The passus is apt to mislead, for the reader may infer, that one of the two experts had to be selected. This was not the case, Tschigorin was accepted and notified. Wolf was not. He filled the vacancy caused by the retirement of the Russian, but his presence had no bearing on Tschigorin's exclusion.
Tschigorin was not able to throw much light on the subject, he has a very limited command of any but the Russian language, and is not aware of having given any cause for the drastic action taken. That much he recalls, that having seen some of Prince Mingrelia's game, where the brilliancy was unsound, he published them with copious notes pointing out how the Prince should have lost. To select out of a score of more brilliant games, one or two which happen to be unsound and exhibit them as samples of the Prince's skill is not exactly right, but unfortunately there is no penalty for it.
Tschigorin also relates that last year when visiting the Kiev Chess Club, he was invited by the Prince, but could not accept. These are about all the facts known, and even if added—as is alleged to be the case,—that at Kiev in a theatre or a circus Tschigorin passed by the Prince, without taking any notice of him,—the crimes committed would possibly warrant his not being invited to the dinner given, but surely not an exclusion from the Tournament.
Some of the experts have seen translations of Tschigorin's chess column, and the prevailing opinion is, that his criticism is severe and pointed. It is not unlikely that some of the Prince's games,—admired as they are everywhere, caused some envy, and Tschigorin probably attempted to minimize their value. If there was a flaw in them, the short coming was quickly exposed, what action he took regarding the other contests is not known, but it is surmised that he gave some hints, indicating that such games may not have been actually played, the opponents being unknown, perhaps non-existant, etc. Endeavoring to belittle the Prince's attainment, he might have unjustly upheld him to ridicule and contempt.
Unsubstantiated gossip as this is, it is placed before the reader, so as to form a strong case against Tschigorin having done so, the writer wishes to state that his sympathy is altogether with the Russian master, who without trial or hearing of any kind was unceremoniously excluded from a competition to which he was specially invited.
Tschigorin was indemnified to the sum of 1500 frcs., which is more than the third prize amounted to, and that the incident did not hurt him otherwise, is proved by the fact that the Vienna Chess Club promptly invited him to participate in the coming contest.
Playing Hall in Monte Carlo 1903
Fedor Duz-Chotimirsky, in Memories of Tschigorin (translated from the original Russian by by WilhelmThe2nd), wrote (from Tschigorn's point of view):
In Kiev at that time resided the Prince Dadian of Mingrelia. Not long
before Tschigorin’s arrival there, an incident occurred between the
chess club and the "His Highness the Prince". In the chess column of a
Kiev newspaper, which was edited by the club, there appeared a game
lost by the Prince. For this "insult" the Dadian of Mingrelia challenged all
the members of the club’s administration to a duel, which remained, of
The next day, on Tschigorin’s arrival, the Prince invited Mikhail
Ivanovich to his place, but Tschigorin, after learning about the incident,
refused to visit the Dadian of Mingrelia’s. "His Highness" was enraged and
decided to get revenge. An opportunity soon presented itself. Tschigorin
was invited to the international tournament in Monte Carlo in 1903. At
the meeting of the participants the honorable chairman of tournament
Prince Dadian of Mingrelia demanded Tschigorin’s exclusion from the
tournament, declaring, that otherwise he would resign from the
presidency and would take back his donation of 500 francs. This threat
worked. The committee gave in to the Prince, and Tschigorin was
excluded from the ranks of the tournament participants.
Leopold Hoffer, in a letter to the BCM, gave Dadian's perspective:
As to the Tchigorin incident, the facts are: H.S.H. Prince Dadian of
Mingrelia (president) did not threaten nor intimate "to withdraw his
handsome prize." The Prince had reason to be seriously offended in
consequence of disparaging and libelous statements made by Tchigorin
in the Russian press about the Prince not only as a chess player. In
these circumstances the Prince did not desire to meet M. Tchigorin,
and tendered his resignation as president of the tournament. Now
there was the dilemma ! The Prince had taken a deal of trouble about
the success of the tournament, and journeyed from Russia to Monte
Carlo to witness the play. But Tchigorin also journeyed from
St. Petersburg to play in the tournament, and had a right to play,
or to receive compensation. The Prince, therefore, offered to
compensate him both for the prize which he might have won, and
for expenses incurred. He gave 1500 francs, and as the second prize
at Monte Carlo amounted to a little over 1100 francs, Tchigorin was
amply compensated, and said so in the receipt which he gave when
the money was handed over to him. Since then several statements
have been made that the administration and not the Prince had paid
the above amount to Tchigorin ; this is not correct. The administration
was not even cognisant of the incident—it was entirely a matter
between Tchigorin, the Committee, and the Prince.
In the same issue of the BCM, the editors wrote:
The Monte Carlo Tournament.—The letter which appears in our present
issue over the signature of Mr. Leopold Hoffer, will be read with interest
by all who followed the progress of the recent contest at Monte Carlo
We have not personally seen the " disparaging and libelous statements
made by Tschigorin in the Russian Press," but the action taken by His
Serene Highness Prince Dadian indicates clearly that he was greatly
offended at the conduct of Tschigorin, whom he had always previously
treated with courtesy. The generosity which marked the Prince's action,
in compensating Tschigorin for actual and possible financial loss, was,
in every sense of the term, the act of a Nobleman, whose generous
support of the game ought at least to protect him from wanton criticism.
The chess world cannot afford to lose such patrons as His Serene Highness
Prince Dadian of Mingrelia, and no one should know this better than