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What if puzzle Series: Steinitz - Chigorin 1889

What if puzzle Series: Steinitz - Chigorin 1889

Jan 31, 2018, 9:16 AM 1

These series represent some chess puzzles inspired from games of chess championship's matches, that could have ended to a different result (not blunders, rather missed opportunities). And therefore the champion's title could be awarded differently. Always in favor of the one who lost the match in the end. Just for fun...

1886  1889

The Steinitz - Chigorin championship match of 1889 was held in Havana, Cuba, between Jan 20 and Feb 24. The match would be composed by 16 to 20 games with time control 15/1. The winner would be declared world chess champion and take about $1350 of the stakes (equal about to $34500 of 2018).

"Before the games started, it was announced that Chigorin was able to collect $600 from the members of the St. Petersburg Club. This was covered for his opponent by subscribers in Havana and the amateurs in Cuba collected an additional $400 for each of the players. This was in addition to the player fee of $250 for each, free passage from and to New York, and prizes of $20 for the winner of each game and $10 for the loser." Kurt Landsberger's William Steinitz, A Biography of the Bohemian Caesar, 1995, p. 211.





In the end, and after 17 games, Steinitz won with +10=1-6 (pgn of the championship match after the diagrams).

But in games 12, 15 and 17 the result could be different...

15th game. Literally from win to lose. This game was actually won by Steinitz but here on move 23 Chigorin can certainly win. Something that Steinitz also mentions in his Modern Chess Instructor, 1889, p. 187. Black has just moved his king to g8 cause of a check. Try it....


12th game. Steinitz just missed the opportunity to force a win by playing Kh2, in front of a check, instead of playing Kf2, threatening the rook and keeping the tempo. In the end won the game but here Chigorin could keep the drawish position. Steinitz disagree (MCI, p. 181) but look in the pgn. Maybe these inaccuracies were due to time control.


17th game. This last game was the only one that ended to a draw. Chigorin has just played Nxe5+ and Steinitz responded Kg7. Here Chigorin can win with good (positional I think) chess. Steinitz doesn't mention anything on this. Here's a 5 move winning line with some explanation in the pgn.



And just one great game by Chigorin...



download pgn of the championship match of 1889


1886  1889






From The games of Steinitz and Tchigorin, USA, 1892, p. 7



From British Chess Magazine, 1889, p. 98 - source: http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/y6znxt.htm





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