<<The Great Chess Match.—>
We have received during the course of this memorable contest a number of letters demanding information on various points relative to the play. Some of our correspondents have asked most strange questions, and to such we think it unnecessary to reply ; to the rest, who appear to be actuated by more worthy motives than mere curiosity, the following remarks will probably prove sufficient:—
The play did not take place in the Cafe de la Regence, as many suppose, but at the Chess Club, adjoining the Cafe.
The preparations made for the match were simple.
All the chess-tables, which on ordinary occasions line the room, were removed, and a single card table was placed near the large centre window, bearing a board and men, brought by Mr. Staunton from England, and the use of which he had made one of the conditions of the match.
At each side of the players were seats for the seconds, and around were disposed long benches, covered with crimson, for the spectators.
With one or two exceptions, the members of the club were the only persons permitted to attend.
The temperature of the room never rose to an excessive degree, and all the stories that have appeared in the French and English papers relative to persons being taken out fainting, or of gendarmes being placed at the door to prevent a crush, are ridiculous exaggerations.
During the play not a word was spoken above a whisper, and every precaution was taken to prevent the combatants from being disturbed.
The time taken up in deliberating on the moves of a game was in general about the same on both sides — perhaps, of the two, the English player was a shade longer in studying a difficult or critical position.
Both players appeared much worn out at the termination of a lengthened sitting, and the day's rest which was given between the games seemed absolutely requisite to enable them to recruit their strength ; indeed, it may be remarked, that no brain could resist the influence of a series of protracted sittings, if continued for any length of time.
In the late contest, the effect of intense thinking began to show itself in the players after seven or eight hours' play. Their faces became gradually flushed, and marks of general uneasiness were then visible. If the duration of the play could be restricted in future matches to eight hours at furthest, we conceive that it would be an advantage. Some inconveniences would, no doubt, attend such a decision ; but they would be amply compensated for by the probable superiority of the play.
One point in the late match has excited great surprise, and several of the letters before us refer to it. How does it happen, they ask, that M. Saint Amant, who last year was the victor in his match with Mr. Staunton in England, should here allow his antagonist to ride at first over the lists as he pleased, winning seven frames almost without resistance?
How, also, when the English champion seemed to have the match completely to himself, was he all at once so vigorously arrested in mid-career, the French player getting up to six games, and he himself only winning one game in the last six?
Those terms in the play do at the first glance appear extraordinary, and yet they can be easily accounted for.
Mental training is as requisite for any intellectual contest as bodily preparation is for one of mere corporeal strength and activity. M. St. Amant erred in not subjecting himself to severe practice for at least some weeks previously to the match. His play is acknowledged both by himself and the gentlemen who are aware of his powers to be far below its general average. His mind had, in fact, grown rusty, and it was only after a certain quantity of practice that he again arrived at his usual foree of chess combination, and was able to respond to the fine play of his antagonist.
Dearly did he pay for his neglect. Day after day he sat down to be beaten, and the whole world, except himself, looked on the match as already decided, when at last he won a solitary game. From that time forth the aspect of the contest gradually changed, until at last he won his sixth game, "thereby", as he himself emphatically expressed it, 'sauvant l'honneur!'.
Were the contest to commence again at present, there can be no doubt that the scales of combat would be more equally balanced.
— Galignani's Messenger.>