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         The History and The Culture of Chess

The Chess Monthly  vol. 13, #154-155, June-July, 1892


H.S.H. Prince André Dadian of Mingrelia, was born at Zougdidi, Mingrelia, Russia. He learned the game at a tender age by watching his parents playing at Chess, and as a child he showed already a surprising capacity for the game.

The Prince's family passed the winter generally in Paris, and the summer seasons at Homburg. It was at the latter place that the late Mr. Barnes made the acquaintance of the Prince, who was then fourteen years of age. The youthful amateur did not miss this opportunity to encounter the distinguished English master, who had made such a splendid stand against Paul Morphy. Many games were played, and Mr. Barnes spoke in the highest possible terms of praise of the talented youth, and predicted that he would become one of the great players of the future. During Mr. Barne's stay at Homburg a tournament was started amongst the amateurs present during the season, and the Prince carried off the first prize.

In 1867 the Prince met Kolisch at Homburg; the latter having then won the "Emperor's prize" at Paris was on a starring tour through Germany to Vienna, and the Prince improved his play through practicing with that celebrated master. The latter, as well as the late Jean Preti, founder of La Stratégie, paid frequent visits to the Hotel du Louvre, where the Prince resided when in Paris.

A lapse occurs now in the Prince's Chess career, his time being entirely devoted to study. Thus we find him, in 1872, a student at the Heidelberg University, where at Prof. Jhne's house he occupied the apartments which the Professor put later on at the disposal of the late Duke of Clarence. The Prince followed the lectures of Bluntschli, Kirchhoff, and Bunsen; aided by a prodigious memory, he became one of the best students at Heidelberg. The Prince speaks six modern languages, and is justly considered one of the most cultured Princes of Europe.

In 1873, upon a visit to Paris, he encountered several French amateurs successfully, although he had abandoned Chess whilst at the University. He beat the Prince de Villafranca in a match seven games to two and one draw, defeated Count Casabianca, M. de Vaufrelan, Jean Preti, and Ferry d'Esclande.

In 1874, having commenced his military career as an officer of the Hussars of the Guard, he met at St. Petersburg the best Russian amateurs. He beat W. Liselle in a match five games to one and one draw; of Schoumoff he won the only game they played; he beat Polner one game and a draw out of two games; and won the first prize in two tournaments of the St. Petersburg Chess Club (1881 and 1882) without losing a single game, amongst the competitors being such strong amateurs as Liselle, Bobrichi, and Poushkin. During that period the Prince won also a match of M. de Marcoran [sic], a strong amateur who was then well known in metropolitan Chess circles. All our masters have encountered M. de Marcovan, and we can testify as to his skill from our own experience, yet he lost the match with the Prince, who won four games and drew two ; draws counting one-half, it made up the requisite score of five.

Although endowed with an exceptional memory, and being able to play without sight of men and board, the Prince does not affect this special branch of the game, as he considers it injurious to the mind; but as an example of mental effort, he dictated once at the house of M.A. Vsévolovsky, at Sarskoy Selo, where his regiment was quartered, five celebrated games, and analyzing the positions from memory, whilst freely conversing at the same time with the numerous guests in the saloons. At a banquet given to the players after the Vienna Tournament, 1882, at the Kahlenberg by Baron Kolisch, the Prince, however, did play blindfold, and with such precision and skill that the masters present complimented him highly.

In 1880, in Rome, the Prince contested a large number of games with the well-known Italian Master, Sig. Dubois, making even games. On the occasion of a visit to Paris, in 1882, the Stratégie says: "Nous devons également mentioner la présence de S.A.S. le Prince Dadian de Mingrélie, que nous avons vu au Café de la Régence comme le faisait Paul Morphy, rappeler devant une nombreuse gallérie une grande quantitée de parties de memoire de joueurs célébres, eu expliquant en même temps les notes et démontrant les analyses, effort prodigieux qui a vivement interessé touts les spectateurs." During the above visit he beat M. Goudjou and Count Pernes, and won a series of five games of M.A. Clerc !

In 1888, at Tiflis, he beat M.A. de Smitten in a set match of seven games up, by 7 to 2 and 3 draws, as well as a large majority of off-hand games.

Steinitz speaks in the highest terms of the Prince's talent, whilst the CHESS-MONTHLY said some years ago, "in his games we recognize a bold and subtle genius of the first rank."



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