from an article published in the June 20, 1997 issue of
Zerkalo Nedeli (A Ukrainian newspaper published
weekly in Kiev)
KNIGHT OF THE GAME OF CHESS
by Ippolit Gamsakhurdia
In 1903 in Kiev there appeared a collection by the well-known Petersburg
chessmaster E. Schiffers; "The Endgames of Prince Dadian of Mingrelia”.
The compiler included two beautifully won consultation games of Andrei
Dadian and Mikhail Chigorin, played by them against the well-known French
chess-player Arnous de Rivière.
But who exactly was this Prince Dadian, to whom the Petersburg master had
paid such attention? And why precisely was the book issued in Kiev?
Here is the story behind this. After the final subjugation of the
Caucasus, Russia took the families of the former local tsars and
landowners to Petersburg for a "proper" education. And so, it is a widely
known fact that in 1859 the family of rebellious
Chechen-Daghestan Imam Shamil was brought to Petersburg. Therefore it is
not surprising that the family of the deceased landowner the Megreli
Prince David Dadian was also to be found in Petersburg. The wife of David,
Ekaterina Chavchavadze-Dadian, the daughter of the Lieutenant General and
romantic poet Aleksandr Chavchavadze, sent their young son Andrei to
Heidelberg University (in Germany), where he graduated from the Faculty of
Law in 1874. Then Andrei entered into the service of the Russian army.
There he himself rose to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Andrei Dadian had an interest in chess in his blood, since in Tbilisi at
the house of Aleksandr Chavchavadze (Andrei’s grandfather) gathered the
progressive intelligentsia of Europe, who entertained themselves with
playing chess. Furthermore, David Dadian (Andrei’s father) himself, having
received his upbringing in Europe, knew this ancient game well.
In 1895, the 45-year old Lieutenant-General retired and left Petersburg.
In the same year he moved to Kiev, and settled in one of the local private
residences and occupied himself with playing chess.
It has been recorded in a mass of publications that in his retirement the
Lieutenant General Dadian invited chess players to his home. Furthermore,
it was frequently possible to see him playing at the then well-known
gathering place of amateur chess amateurs, - "the Warsaw Cafe", where, by
the way, the prominent Ukrainian dramatist Mikhaylo Staritzky loved to
A. Dadian left a significant mark on the history of game of chess. It is
sufficient to say that in 1982 the English journal "Chess
Monthly", completely dedicated its June-July number to Andrei Dadian's
biography. The periodical printed his photograph, several games and even
For the purpose of the study of the biography of my renowned compatriot I
began to search for documents about him, and my efforts did not prove to
be futile. In 1950, ¹11 of the journal "Chess in the USSR" was completely
dedicated to the century after the birth of Mikhail Chigorin, a
contemporary of A. Dadian. In this number of the periodical there was
included the recollections of Master Fedor Duz-Chotimirsky about Chigorin,
where we read:
"In 1902[sic] the III All-Russian Championship of Chessplayers took
place in Kiev. At that time in Kiev resided the Prince Dadian of
Mingrelia. Before the arrival of Chigorin here, there was a small
incident between the Chessplayers' Club and the Mingrelian Prince.
Representatives of the club had published in one of the Kiev newspapers
a game won by them. Dadian perceived this as a big insult and challenged
all the managers of the club to a duel, which, however, did not take
place. Two days after this incident Mikhail Chigorin arrived in Kiev.
Prince Dadian invited the honoured guest to his home. Frightened by the
rumours about the incident, Chigorin did not visit the Georgian
lieutenant-general and well-known chess player. According to Georgian
custom, the refusal of an invitation is perceived as a great insult. The
proud Prince decided to stand up for his honour. And here there arose a
convenient opportunity. In 1903 in Monte Carlo there was set an
international tournament, at which Andrei Dadian himself presided. He
also financed the committee that conducted the tournament. At the
meeting of the participants A. Dadian came forward with the demand that
Chigorin be excluded. If this did not occur, he would refuse the
presidency and would take back his money. The committee was compelled to
agree with the president. M. Chigorin was excluded from tournament ."
These actions may look unjustified from our position today, but it is
necessary to discount historical realities and national customs.
In 1953 Duz-Chotimirsky published his memoirs "Selected Games" where he
again speaks negatively about Dadian:
" Dadian as a general, - writes the author of the memoirs, - could
not participate in official games, therefore he invited strong players
to his home and played with them there. Personally I, a 23-year old
fellow, was often there, and stayed to have dinner. Once we played a
match, - he continues the narration, - of 12 games from which Dadian won
only 3, losing the rest. In one game, it is true, he won beautifully.
Dadian had the habit of sending a good game with his own notes to Paris,
to the journal "La Strategie", where he had many friends. This game he
won was, of course, immediately sent there. The magazine soon published
it. I was outraged. The
Mingrelian Prince himself was also dissatisfied. " I did not send it in
this form ", - he said. Friends did not give me any rest, - further
writes Duz-Chotimirsky, - insisting that I also have published the most
beautiful game won by me from the Prince in the newspaper. And so that
game appeared in the press … "
Investigating the different kinds of evidence of people who knew A.
Dadian, I was convinced, that Duz-Chotimirsky somewhat preconceivedly
describes the Prince's nature.
Andrei Dadian was frequently selected as President of large tournaments.
He knew personally many outstanding chess players; he corresponded with
the world champions W. Steinitz and E. Lasker. Periodicals, especially "La
Stratégie" (France), frequently published games with the annotations of
the Georgian Prince. Andrei Dadian highly valued combinations; therefore
he had a habit of offering prizes for beautiful games. It must be noted
that Prince himself did not participate in official tournaments, since it
was not acceptable at that time for such high ranking people to do this.
Several periodicals and the newspapers wrote about Prince Andrei Dadian's
personality, although this did not greatly please some Russian
journalists. Thus, the International Arbiter Tengiz Georgadze published an
article about Andrei Dadian in the special bulletin dedicated to the
Tbilisi semi-final (1956, 24th All-Union Championship), which became the
cause for attacks on its author. In particular, Georgadze underwent
criticism in the journal "Chess in the USSR" ("Shakhmatny
in the USSR") [#7, 1957]. Also sharply
opposed to it was the International Master V. Panov, who in "Chess in the
USSR" [#11, 1962] wrote an article by the name of "Attention! Prince!” The
well-known historian of chess and the first Soviet Master, Peter Romanovsky, gave an answer to Panov, and supported T. Georgadze with the
words: "Do not pay attention, they do not know history, continue your
In 1972 the publishing house "Soviet Georgia" released Tengiz Georgadze's
book "Play Andrei Dadian", which became an
adornment of the home libraries of many amateurs of the game of chess.
In this book we find much interesting information about Prince Dadian. The
author writes that contemporary publishers frequently printed the
combinations of Prince Dadian, sometimes even without mentioning their
author. So, for example, in 1955 the well-known chess player Alexander
Koblenz in his book included a beautiful game, without knowing, between
whom it was played. When he was asked about its "authors", he answered: "I
do not know, it took it from some German periodical". A. Dadian played
this game in West Georgia in 1887 at the house of a local priest, Fedor
Khoshtari. Alexander Koblenz corrected his "error" in 1962, when he
republished the book.
Of course, Dadian's circle of the acquaintances was not limited only to
chess players. The Prince had close relations with many representatives of
the progressive intelligentsia; in particular with the writer Turgenev, he
was friends with the cultural figures of Kiev of those days. Thus, he had
friendly relations with the sugar-refinery owner Lazarus Brodsky, and with
Kiev's provincial architect Gennadi Antonovsky, whom he knew from
Petersburg. A. Dadian frequently invited them to his home or to the
In 1898 Dadian together with his compatriot, the merchant and folklorist,
Peter Anchabadze, were present at a solemn opening ceremony of a choral
synagogue of Lazarus Brodsky at what is presently Shota Rustavelli Street.
A puzzled question is possible - What did this, seemingly, single-faith
event have to do with the Georgian prince? But Dadian participated in the
opening the synagogue because he deeply respected Lazarus Brodsky whose
philanthropy and charity were not limited to one nation.
In 1910 Andrei Dadian died, not having left any descendants.
Andrei's sister, Salome Dadian, the wife of a descendant of Napoleon
Bonaparte, Achille Murat, placed on the epitaph of her
brother a piece of marble with the inscription: "This marble gravestone was
put here by me, the sister of Andrei, Princess Salome Murat."
The services this knight of the game of chess rendered to his native land
and a wide circle of amateurs of the sport have been
preserved only in memoirs, which it would be desirable to see republished