LETTERS FROM RUSSIA: II.
The Havana match is turning out a very stubborn contest for supremacy. Here everybody who knows anything of chess is watching it eagerly. The Novoé Vremya publishes special telegrams from Tschigorin which he sends after each game, giving the opening and result, so that even non-players have become interested and remark on the victory or defeat of their compatriot. Inter alias, it may be of interest to your readers to see the record of all the games between Steinitz and Tschigorin previous to their present match. They first met at the Vienna Congress of 1892, when each won one game. In the London Tournament the following year, Tschigorin won both games, and in 1889 at the Havana, Steinitz won 10½ and Tschigorin 6½. In the telegraph match last year, Tschigorin won both games, so that the total scores are now equal: 10½ games each. This fact gives special interest to the congress now in progress.
Play by correspondence is just now much in vogue in Russia, the players in isolated country towns having no difficulty in finding opponents. Two tournaments are, or will be before these lines are printed, in progress, one organized by the Moscow chess journal, Schascheschintza, and the other by Mr. Otto’s St. Petersburg Chess Journal. In the former there are twelve competitors, and three prizes: 50, 30, and 20 roubles, are offered. In the latter, for which eleven players have entered, badges inscribed with the winner’s name, a set of chessmen, a copy of the Handbuch, are among the articles in the prize list. The regulations for this tourney have been most carefully drawn up.
Active play is going on at the St. Petersburg Club, where the annual handicap has attracted its full number of competitors.—At the Economists’ Club the championship contest has come to an end, although it is not known to whom the first prize will be awarded. It appears that when half the games had been played, Alapin retired, and his place was taken by Polner—at the end of the tourney these two had won the same number of games, 18½ out of 20; so which of them will be hailed champion and have his name inscribed on the challenge cup is a question for the committee. Kelback comes out second with a score of 15¾ , then Schiffers with 15. Liselle, Seebot, and Michelson, following in the order named.
A fact has recently come to light, both here and in the Havana, which has been the subject of much comment on the part of Russian and American players, and a letter referring to the subject has appeared in the Novoé Vremya. It seems that some time previous to the Havana match, Alapin wrote to Steinitz warning him against the probable attack, 8 B—K 3 in the Evans, after 6…, Q—K B 6; 7 P—Q 4, P—K R 3.