Mikhail Chigorin

Russian chess player

Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin [1] (Gatchina, Russia, 12 November 1850 – Lublin, Poland, 25 January 1908) was a leading Russian chess player.

Mikhail Chigorin
Full nameMikhail Ivanovich Chigorin
Country Russian Empire
Born12 November 1850
Gatchina, Russia
DiedJanuary 25, 1908(1908-01-25) (aged 57)
Lublin, Poland

He was 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.

Chigorin was for a while one of the world's top four players. He twice challenged Wilhelm Steinitz for the World Chess Championship. Both matches were held in Havana. In 1889 Steinitz won 10½–6½, and in 1892 by 12½–10½. Chigorin drew an 1893 match with Siegbert Tarrasch in Saint Petersburg (11–11); Tarrasch was probably the world #2 at that time.[2]

Chigorin made a number of contributions to the theory of chess openings. The most important were the Chigorin Variation of the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Na5) and the Chigorin Defence to the Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6).

Chigorin gave many lectures, wrote magazine articles and chess columns. He 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.

His early death was caused by diabetes, for which there was no remedy at the time.


  1. also Tchigorin; Russian: Михаил Чигорин
  2. Adams, Jimmy 1987. Mikhail Chigorin: the creative chess genius. Caissa Editions. ISBN 0-939433-05-2