Russian Chess


Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin


Chigorin is known alternately as "The Father of Russian Chess" and the "Founder of the Russian School of Chess" and with good reason. During the last half of the 19th century, Chigorin was not only Russia's best player, but he self-published an important, regular chess periodical, he organized the first All-Russian Tournament, the first Russian Correspondence Tournament and the first Russian inter-scholastic tournament.  He was the leading chess theorist of his day, far exceeding what Jaenisch and Petroff had begun.

In many ways, Mikhail Chigorin reminds me of Adolf Anderssen. They were both of the so-call Romantic school of chess and they were both chess-artists in the truest sense of the term. At their bests, they were brilliant and produced exceedingly aesthetic games, but generally their play was uneven and too often unsound.


Most perversely the Soviet Union appropriated Chigorin as the "Father of Soviet Chess."  The development of chess under the Soviet Union is well known (though, at the time, it was well hidden) but, as with everything in the Soviet State, chess had to serve a utilitarian function. Art for Art's sake wasn't tolerated, as the poor Russian chess problemists learned.  Chigorin, as mentioned, was an artist of the chess board whose ideas did nothing to promote or further Soviet ideals and his risky style of play bore no resemblence at all to the carefully crafted style of play that a true Soviet like Botvinnik would espouse.


A sidebar of interest is Chigorin's feud with Prince Dadian of Mingrelia.  About which a lot can be found on these pages.

I published an article written by M.S. Evenson, from that time, entitled, "Chigorin at the Kiev Tornament of 1903."


Here is a win by Chigorin playing a beautiful and brilliant Evans Gambit against Steintiz in 1892.