Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (1850, Russia – 1908, Poland) was a leading Russian chess player. He served as a major source of inspiration for the "Soviet school of chess," which dominated the chess world in the middle and latter parts of the 20th century.
His first international tournament was Berlin 1881, where he was equal third with Szymon Winawer, behind Johannes Zukertort and Joseph Henry Blackburne. At the great London tournament of 1883, he finished fourth behind Zukertort, Wilhelm Steinitz and Blackburne. At the very strong tournament of New York 1889 he was equal first with Max Weiss. Following this great success he challenged the world champion Steinitz for a match with the World Championship at stake.
The match was played at Havana in 1889, but he lost 10½–6½. A second match was played also at Havana in 1892, but he still lost 12½–10½. His overall record against Steinitz was very close (+24-27=8). He also played a much publicised 'telegraph match' against Steinitz in 1890, devised to settle a theoretical argument. Chigorin had the slight advantage of choosing the openings in advance from a list supplied by Steinitz and duly won both games.
His playing style featured a well honed tactical ability and an imaginative approach to the opening. He rejected many of the inflexible doctrines put forward by Tarrasch and Steinitz, but accepted Steinitz' teachings about the soundness of the defensive centre. Indeed, he went on to add to the development of the concept through the work he carried out with closed variations of the Ruy Lopez. He also pioneered some variations of the Slav Defence.
Frank Marshall once commented on the highly agitated state that would possess Chigorin when faced with difficult positions. Aside from the usual frantic foot-tapping and crossing of legs, he would occasionally become "a bundle of nerves", at which point his temperament could turn "quite fierce".
As an ambassador for Russian chess, Chigorin was a shining example; he gave many lectures, wrote magazine articles and chess columns and subsidised or otherwise supported a number of periodicals to keep them afloat despite low readership levels. He also founded a chess club in Saint Petersburg and tried for many years to establish a chess association, an attempt that finally succeeded just a few years after his death.
In 1907, Chigorin failed badly in a chess tournament and clearly not in good health, was diagnosed by doctors in Carlsbad with an advanced and untreatable case of diabetes. This prompted a prediction that he had only months to live, whereupon he returned to his estranged wife and daughter in Lublin and died the following January. In 1909, a Chigorin Memorial tournament was played in St. Petersburg, after that many more followed, from 1947 onwards mainly in Sochi and from 1990 back in St. Petersburg.
Through his original talent, lively games and prolific teachings, many Russians regard Mikhail Chigorin as the founder of their 'School of Chess', later to become known as the Soviet School of Chess.
In 1880 Chigorin organized Chess Club in Petersburg. It wasn't first chess club in Russia. In January 1862 count Grigory Kushelev-Bezborodko founded a chess club in the Eliseyev house( It is also known as Kosikovsky House, Chicherin house and Barrikada cinema theater) in St.Petersburg . Club's members included Nikolai Chernyshevsky and Dmitri Mendeleev. However, the police started to get reports, that club members engage in political discussions about constitution and revolution, Chernyshevsky makes speeches, and there is no playing chess. In March of the same year police closed the club.
Interesting Chigorin's game from Berlin 1881: