The match was to last twenty games; the first player to score 10½ points or win ten games would be the champion. In the event of a 10–10 tie after 20 games the players would continue until one of them had won ten games. If it reached a score of nine games each, the match would end in a draw and the defending champion Steinitz would retain the title. After twenty games the score was 10–10 with each player having eight wins, so the players continued until one had won ten games. Game 21 was drawn, but Steinitz won games 22 and 23 to win the match and retain the title.
In game 22 Chigorin blundered on move 9 losing a pawn and ultimately the game. (See diagram 1.) Playing black, Chigorin adopted the variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined later known as the Tartakower Defense. 9. cxd5 Nxd5? An elementary error that loses a pawn.10. Nxd5 Bxd5 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. Rxc7 Qd6 13. Rc3 Bxa2? When making his 9th move Chigorin may have expected this capture would regain the pawn, but the bishop will be trapped.14. e4 Qb4 15. Qa1 Bb3 16. Nd2 Bc2 17. Rc4 Qd6 18. Rxc2 Qxd4 19. O-O Down a piece, Chigorin resigned after White's 49th move.
As White in game 23 Chigorin was behind eight wins to nine and played the aggressive King's Gambit. Steinitz defended poorly and was in a hopeless endgame (see diagram 2). A piece up, Chigorin should have won after 32. Rxb7 (32...Rxd5? 33. Nf4 forks the black rooks). Instead the game and match ended suddenly when Chigorin blundered with 32. Bb4?? Rxh2+ White resigns, as Black will mate on the next move.