Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Who was Prince Dadian?

The following is a brief extract from Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia:

"Andria Dadiani, also known as Andria Dadian-Mingrelsky in a Russian manner (born 1850–died 1910) was a nobleman and chess player from Georgia (then part of the Russian Empire). Member of the Mingrelian (Western Georgia) princely family of Svan descent, he was born in Zugdidi, W. Georgia. He graduated from Heidelberg University Faculty of Law in 1873. Later, he served as a lieutenant-general of the Russian army.

He had played at Paris, Rome, Kiev and Tbilisi tournaments before he won the Saint Petersburg amateur chess tournament in 1881-1882.

He was the president of the 1903-1904 Monte Carlo international tournaments and according to the common, though unreliable beliefs, invited the Russian chess master Mikhail Chigorin to play but later paid him 1,500 francs (greater than 3rd prize money) not to play because Chigorin had published analysis of one of the Prince's games, pointing out he had made gross errors. A valuable art object was to go to the winner of a short match between the 1st and 2nd place finishers (Tarrasch and Maroczy). The players wanted a play for money also. This annoyed the Prince who gave the art object to the 3rd place finisher (Pillsbury).

According to more accurate accounts, Dadiani refused to remain part of the tournament, physically and financially, if Chigorin had been allowed to participate. Chigorin, who had traveled to Monte Carlo in good faith, was expediently removed from the list. Dadiani payed him the $1500 in compensation."

The adventures of the roguish Prince Dadian of Mingrelia came to my notice through the wonderful and much lamented magazine Chess Chow.

There are a number of somewhat brilliant games on record that are attributed to Prince Dadian, but there is no corroborating evidence to suggest that he ever reached the master class under his own steam. He is believed to have offered established masters financial inducements to lose these games to him, and it would not surprise me if the moves were worked out by the Prince in advance. Here are two examples:

Prince Dadian - Baron Ignatz Kolisch
Played in 1897
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 f6 6.Nh4 g6 7.0-0 d6 8.f4 Qe7 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Be3 Nc6 11.Qe2 Bd7 12.b4 0-0-0 13.a4 Bg7 14.b5 Nb8 15.b6 axb6 16.a5 bxa5 17.Rfb1 Nc6 18.Rxb7 Kxb7 19.Ba6+ Ka8 20.Bb7+ Kxb7 21.Qb5+ Kc8 22.Qa6+ Kb8 23.Rxa5 Nxa5 24.Qa7+ Kc8 25.Qa8# 1-0

Prince Dadian - Fyodor Duz Chotimirsky
Played at Hamburg in 1901
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.0-0 gxf3 7.Qxf3 Qf6 8.Nd5 Qd4+ 9.Kh1 Qxc4 10.d3 Qc5 11.Bxf4 Nd4 12.Qh5 Ne6 13.Be5 c6 14.b4 Qxc2 15.Qxf7+ Kd8 16.Qxf8+ Nxf8 17.Rxf8# 1-0

Several more examples of his achievements in this area were anthologised in the classic book 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, by Irving Chernev.

1 comment:

Sarah Beth said...

"He is believed to have offered established masters financial inducements to lose these games to him, and it would not surprise me if the moves were worked out by the Prince in advance."

One thing I'm convinced of is that Prince Dadian never forged a game, bribed or coerced an opponent, or staged any of his moves. The only thing he was guilty of was sending his wins for publication (donating sums of money to Steinitz or Numa Preti) while ignoring his loses or his opponents' wins- something Duz-Chomirsky attests too. All other accusations are pretty much nonsense.

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.