Memories of Chigorin
Chigorin excites me. His games, his attitude, his bearded good looks - I just like everything about him.
Chigorin was at his peak in the latter part of the 19th century, even playing twice for the World Championship, once in 1889 and once in 1892, both times in Havana, Cuba.
But this article deals with a later time and with Chigorin's involvement with Ukrainian chess and interaction with some Ukrainian players.
Below is an excerpt called Memories of Tschigorin from Fedor Duz-Chotimirsky's autobiography (translated from the original Russian by by WilhelmThe2nd):
"50 years have passed since I saw Tschigorin for the first time, the Tschigorin, who by his amazing skill inculcated in me a love for chess. In 1899, S. A. Shimansky and I organized a chess club in Kiev and gathered together a group of amateurs in this club. Soon after we invited the grandmaster D. Janowsky for appearances at the club. Janowsky related sympathetically to my enthusiasm for chess and he gave a quite good assessment of my play and even recommended me to the organizer of the second All-Russian tournament, P. P. Bobrov.
The tournament began. Recently, Tschigorin had played unsuccessfully in international tournaments and the majority predicted victory for Janowsky. But, contrary to general opinion, Tschigorin amassed victory after victory.
* * * * * * *
During his stay in Kiev, Mikhail Ivanovich talked to us about the development of chess in Russia and asked us about all the details of chess life in our city.I was especially amazed at how seriously and closely Michael Ivanovich listened to even weak amateurs who addressed him. He answered their questions in detail and he analyzed individual positions together with them. He suggested to our active membership the idea of organizing the Third All-Russian tournament in Kiev, moreover he promised to help in this matter.
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 course, unaccomplished.
My third encounter with Tschigorin took place in 1903 at the All-Russian tournament in Kiev. Unfortunately, the tournament committee not was equal to the occasion. It did not create normal conditions for play. At the tournament there were many incidents. Some of the younger participants, attempting to usurp Tschigorin’s superiority, behaved provocatively. Tschigorin painfully endured all this.
My fourth encounter with Mikhail Ivanovich occurred at St. Petersburg in 1906. I lived then at the home of an amateur chessplayer and close friend of Tschigorin’s, Sergey Yakovlevich Rozhdestvensky. Once we received a letter from Mikhail Ivanovich inviting us to come to his place on his birthday. Tschigorin cordially accepted us and after dinner we settled down at the chessboard.
I then stayed with Tschigorin for two days. During these days Tschigorin told me much about his meetings with well-known chess players. He appreciated highly Steinitz, Janowsky, and, in particular, Lasker. "Not soon will there be found a player who will conquer Lasker"- he said.
In the fourth round I was due to play with Goncharov. I felt unwell this day and consequently asked Goncharov to postpone the game. He agreed, but Tschigorin protested. The tournament committee ordered me to play. I refused, and they forfeited me.
I was upset and Tschigorin was upset as well.
However, afterward I realized my mistake. This incident distressed me to depths of my soul. I addressed Tschigorin with an apology. To my relief, Tschigorin tenderly accepted me and explained, that, in his opinion, it is impossible to permit any deviations from the tournament order to anyone of the participants.
In the same year, 1907, I received a letter from the chairman of the All-Russian Chess Union, Saburov. Saburov informed me, that the All-Russian Chess Union had received from the committee of Carlsbad International tournament an invitation to the tournament of one Russian chess player who had yet to achieve the rank of master. Saburov had turned to Tschigorin requesting him to specify whom he advised to send to the tournament. Tschigorin named myself and Evtifeev.
And here, thanks to Tschigorin, I had an opportunity to participate in an international tournament.
The heads of the Chess Union sent me to the tournament but without giving me the means for the trip. At that time each participant went to a tournament at his own expense. My money only sufficed for me to reach Carlsbad and to pay for an apartment. I played the first half of the tournament hungry. Tschigorin, having seen me become emaciated and pale, asked whether I was sick. Receiving a negative answer, he surmised that I was simply starving. After calling the leaders of All-Russian Chess Chess Union "heartless scoundrels", Tschigorin helped me to arrange and organize my life.
In Carlsbad I usually accompanied Tschigorin to the hotel after the game. He felt very unwell then and could hardly move. We slowly reached his room. " [END]
(Chigorin went to the doctor in Carlsbad who gave him just a short time to live due to the advanced stage of his diabetes. Chigorin died in January of 1908.)
While Duz-Chotimirsky talks about accompanying Chigorin in Carlsbad in 1907, fellow Ukrainian, Fedor Bohatirchuk also claimed he accompanied Chigorin in Carlsbad in 1907.
In 1909, Fedor Dus-Chotimirsky, a frequent Kiev champion, finished 13th in the Chigorin Memorial. He defeated the 1st and 2nd place winners (Lasker and Rubinstein) in individual games and was the first Ukrainian to play in a top-level international tournament.