BCM v12 p157 Apr 1892
LETTERS FROM RUSSIA: III.
The death on the 13/28th January of the Grand Duke Constantine, uncle to the Emperor, has deprived Russian chess of a staunch friend and supporter. He was a patron of the St. Petersburg society of amateur chess players, and his strength may be gauged from the fact that he played successfully against such members as Schiffers and Schoumoff. One of his games with the latter, an Evans, appeared in the January number of the St. Petersburg Chess Journal.
The Handicap Tourney at the St. Petersburg Club terminated on the 15th February. There were fifteen competitors, and the first prize was won by Grebenstchikoff (class II. div. 2), with a score of 22½. Otto (class I. div. 1) and Lialen (class I. div. 3) divided the second and third prizes. Another tourney has now begun with twenty competitors, and Prince Cantacuzene has offered a prize of 5 roubles to the player making the best score against the prize winners. After Tschigorin, the strongest players in this club are Baylin, Doubravin, and Otto, all of whom receive Pawn and move. Which of these is strongest it is hard to say, and a match between them would be a close contest. Zybin, quite their equal in theoretical knowledge, is only of slightly inferior strength over the board. All four compete regularly in the club tournaments, and are frequent prize winners.
At the Economists’ Club, Alapin, Polner, and Schiffers are unquestionably strongest. All three are inferior to Tschigorin, but he cannot give them any odds. He won matches against Alapin and Schiffers, some years ago (1880 4), but has not since encountered either. Polner has always received Pawn and move from him in tournaments. Other strong players are Solovtzeff of Moscow, a most brilliant and ingenious player, who however gets little practice against opponents of his own class. Winawer of Warsaw, who is at a similar disadvantage, and who has retired from international play; and Ascharin, Chardin, and Schmiding, who seem to have given up public play altogether. From this it will be seen that Tschigorin is our only representative abroad, and he by constant study and practice has of late increased still further the distance between himself and every other Russian player.
The Havana match is ended, and Steinitz is again victor; this time, however, only by a lucky chance. Tschigorin, notwithstanding he was a piece to the good, lost the last game by a terrible blunder, overlooking a mate. Had he won it, the match would have been drawn, and another contest would have taken place, with what result who can say? Tschigorin has let the draw at any-rate slip through his fingers, but ill-health, the terrible heat, and his own nervous excitable temperament, have all conspired against him. Nevertheless noone for the last thirty years has done so well. Anderssen, the strongest probably of Steinitz’s opponents, lost eight games out of fourteen; whereas in the late match the score at one time was: Steinitz 8, Tschigorin 8. The closeness of the contest will no doubt prompt another challenge. In Russia, Tschigorin’s victory was looked forward to with confidence, and the news of his defeat has consequently come upon us as an unpleasant surprise. The St. Petersburg Club are now anxiously waiting his return, although he is not likely to remain for very long. His arrangements include another visit to America next year, as a competitor in the international tournament at Chicago.
A match is in progress between Grebentschikoff and Zybin, and Baylin and Otto are also playing a series of games. Things are quiet at the Economists’ Club, for Alapin is in Germany, Schiffers lying ill in the hospital, and the other players seldom put in appearance.
BCM v12 p349 Aug 1892
LETTERS FROM RUSSIA: IV.
The return of Tschigorin, in April last, put a little vitality into the St. Petersburg chess circles, and several departures from the humdrum of their ordinary existence are to be chronicled. On the 27th April, the maestro played eight games simultaneously sans voir, winning 7 and losing 1. His game with M. Batalin was of special interest, since the latter accepted the Evans and adopted the defence recommended to Steinitz by Alapin. Tschigorin announced mate in 5 on the 20th move. The following day Tschigorin was entertained to dinner by the club, and a letter from Dr. Tarrasch containing a challenge to a match was read. It was decided there and then to invite the Nuremburg master to St. Petersburg, and a subscription list was opened to defray the necessary expenses. Dr. Tarrasch proposed Berlin as the meeting place, and July as the date, but Tschigorin has now offered to arrange for the contest to take place in his own city, some time between October and December. The announcement by German chess columns that details had been settled and that the match would be played in Berlin was at least premature; Tschigorin will not go there, and indeed it is our turn to have an international contest. While negotiations with Dr. Tarrasch were going on, Tschigorin received a telegram from New York, proposing a correspondence match with Steinitz: one game an Evans, Steinitz to defend with 6…, Q—K B 3, and the other a Two Kt’s Defence, White’s eighth move stipulated. Tschigorin at once telegraphed his willingness to play, but probably the match will be postponed owing to Mr. Steinitz’s recent bereavement.
On two occasions recently, Tschigorin has given lectures on his games in the Havana match; they were exceedingly interesting, inasmuch as he indicated the critical positions in each game, and explained his line of play. Sander’s defence in the Evans, recommended by Alapin, was touched upon, and it was pointed out that the variations given by the latter were not new and were moreover untrustworthy. Otto, in the St. Petersburg Chess Journal, has also been criticising Alapin’s analysis.
No small interest has been taken here in the Blackburne-Lasker match, and the opinion seems to be general that the latter won too easily. His play does not shew remarkable brilliancy, while Blackburne was evidently quite out of form. His games were unrecognizable when compared with those of former years. The match between Zybin and Grebenstchikoff terminated in a victory for the former by five games to three, with two draws.
BCM v12 p494 Nov 1892
LETTERS FROM RUSSIA: V.
Chess at St. Petersburg has been practically at a standstill during the summer months. Everybody who can leaves for the country, and it is only this month that folk are beginning to return to town. In a few days our chess club will take possession of its new rooms, on the Newsky Prospect, and if present appearances count for anything, we shall certainly have most luxurious quarters. They comprise a suite of six rooms, and are decorated and furnished most elegantly. Why do not some of your amateurs, many of whom can afford the luxury of travelling, pay us a visit? They would meet with true Russian hospitality, and I know, no lack of opponents. Some of our strongest players are unable to leave the country, but they are quite ready, indeed anxious, to try conclusions with all comers.
If Mr. Lasker now, had come here instead of going to America, we are sure he would have derived no less pleasure than profit from his visit. Not to mention Tschigorin, there are Baylin, Doubravin, Otto, Polner, Schiffers, Schischkin, Zybin, and others, who though they rarely engage in serious play, are really first class, and who would be all the better for somebody to come and stir them up.
Tschigorin has just returned from a five days’ visit to Riga, where he was invited by the local club. He gave simultaneous performances with his usual success, and seems to have afforded no small pleasure to the local players.
It is intended to inaugurate the new chess club, which is to open its doors in time for the winter season, by a series of contests, including two handicap tourneys. The latter will be played simultaneously, and the entrance fees, ten and three roubles respectively, indicate their comparative importance. There will also be a match between the students of the Technological Institute and the St. Petersburg University, besides several personal encounters.
It will be a great pity if Dr. Tarrasch does not come here to play Tschigorin. The match would certainly be the most interesting and popular that could take place, and would undoubtedly enrich the records of chess by many classic games. The chess circle here, which has not grudged the cost of establishing a club on the most complete, even luxurious scale, would certainly not fail in the duty of hospitality, and would welcome the Nuremburg master in a way worthy of even his great reputation. The time has indeed arrived when Russia can and ought to pay something on account of the debt incurred by the welcome of her players abroad.
I should like in conclusion to refer in a few words to Mr. Alapin, thinking it right at least to correct an erroneous impression. Mr. Tinsley, in his review of the Dresden Tournament, published in your September No., says “Russia was fairly represented by S. Alapin, now settled in Berlin, victim possibly of Russia’s oppression of the Jewish race.'” Now this is not quite correct, since Mr. Alapin resides in Berlin by his own desire. His relations with most of the St. Petersburg players have been severely strained, to put it mildly, since the late match in the Havana.