Chess November Birthdays

by National Life Master Loal Davis



There are many chess players who are/were born in November but there were two that bubble to the top because of their continued results among the world elite.  One was the Russian born (November 12th, 1850) Mikhail Tchigorin.  You will often see his name spelled “Chigorin”, but Mikhail himself preferred “Tchigorin”.  He played for the World Championship twice against Wilhelm Steinitz.  True – he did lose both matches.  The World Championship match was played at Havana in 1889, but he lost 10½–6½ (+6-10=1).   A second World Championship match was played also at Havana in 1892, but he narrowly lost 12½–10½ (+8-10=5).  Keep in mind the city of Havana – it comes into play later.  He also played a very famous ‘telegraph match’ against Steinitz in 1890, devised to settle a theoretical argument. Tchigorin had the slight advantage of choosing the openings in advance from a list supplied by Steinitz and duly won both games.  Those two games/openings were an Evans Gambit and a Two Knights Defense.



The following game was not particularly famous, but recently struck my “fancy” as a very well played game with Tchigorin conducting the Black pieces.


Russian Championship   –   Kiev 1903

White “Salwe, Georg”
Black “Tchigorin, Mikhail”


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Nc3 d6

The Giuoco Pianissimo – Normally a tranquil/quiet game – and with Tchigorin playing the Black pieces.  Nevertheless we are approximately one third through this extremely short game.  Let’s see what happens.

6. O-O Bg4 7. Bb5

White tries to discourage Nd4 which would compromise the Kingside Pawn structure.

O-O 8. Be3 Nd4 9. Bxd4 Bxd4 10. h3

White now contemplates either the exchange of the pinning Bishop or exchanging the Bishop on d4, perhaps providing a target after the doubling of Pawns.

Bh5 11. g4 Bxc3

Ha – no doubled Pawns – for Black at any rate.

12. bxc3 Nxg4

Mikhail refuses to withdraw.  

13. hxg4 Bxg4

Black has at last two Pawns for the Knight, a strong pin, and of course White’s perforated King position.

14. d4

It is understandable that Salwe (White) wants to alleviate that pin against his Queen.


And now the Rook enters the game.  Black now actually enjoys a material “superiority” if one looks at the pieces who are really engaged in the battle.  Tchigorin has a Queen, Rook, and Bishop against – Whoa – not much resistance on stage right; a pinned Knight, a King who will have difficulty running away, a Queen who is defending a pinned Knight and a Bishop who is striving mightily to return to the scene.

15. Be2 fxe4 16. Nd2 Bxe2 17. Qxe2 Qg5+ 18. Kh1 Rf4 0-1

Final Position – A Beauty


Jose Raul Capablanca was born in Havana (see above) on November 19, 1888.  If you haven’t heard of him, then as a chess player, please do yourself a favor and do some reading before you embarrass yourself.  Capablanca did become World Champion in 1921 by winning the match played in Havana, March–April 1921; Lasker resigned it after fourteen games, having lost four games and winning none. 



Capablanca was renowned for the “simplicity” of his play; his opponents regularly being enveloped in fear as the endgame approached.  This little known game is a case in point.


New York  –  1912

White “Jose Raul Capablanca”
Black “Randolph”

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Bc5 4. Nxe5

A pseudo sacrifice; White will regain the piece with d4 – so – Black tries to alter the situation by preventing White from castling.  White will still have an advantage – the center – which is not to say that Black is losing.

Bxf2+ 5. Kxf2 Nxe5 6. d4 Ng6 7. Bc4 d6 8. Rf1 Be6 9. Bxe6 fxe6 10. Kg1

White has castled “by hand”.

Nf6 11. Bg5 O-O 12. Qd3 Qd7 13. Bxf6 Rxf6 14. Rxf6 gxf6 15. Rf1 Rf8 16. Qb5 c6 17. Qb3 d5 18. exd5 cxd5 19. Ne2 Kg7 20. c3 e5 21. Ng3

Threat – Knight check on h5.

Ne7 22. Nh5+ Kg6 23. Qc2+ e4 24. Qe2 f5 25. g4 h6 26. gxf5+ Rxf5 27. Qg4+

A check and a Rook “pin” against the Black Queen – or is it?  Doesn’t black have a pin of his own?

Rg5 28. Rf6+

Of course this continuation had to be foreseen. 

Kh7 29. Rf7+ Kh8 30. Rf8+

A Knight check on f6 means that Black will interpose with his Knight.


White (Capablanca) To Play

31. Qxg5 hxg5 32. Rxg8+ 1-0

Final Position

And the Knight fork on f6 will spell doom.  Very nice.


Happy Birthday !



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