Wallace v Esling.>
The great chess battle so anxiously looked forward to by all players commenced at the Athenaeum on Saturday last (8th June), the champion of Australia, Mr. Wallace, meeting the champion of Victoria, Mr. Esling.
The weapons for a chess duel are very simple. A big board, 2 feet square, and men, a tell-tale clock, and an umpire. In one of the small rooms of the Athenaeum these things were found ready at 2 o'clock, and at that time Sir Hartley Williams, the president of the Melbourne Chess Club, having made the first move and given the word "go," play commenced.
The principal condition of the match is that 15 moves must be made within the hour. They can be divided just as the player thinks fit. For example, he can make 10 moves in five minutes, and extend the other five over the remainder of his hour, and so on.
The tell-tale clock has two dials, or rather there are two separate pendulum clocks fastened together in a V-shaped case, working on a pivot at the base of the letter. The player whose move it is has his clock going against him, the column of the V containing it standing upright. When he has made his move he presses his end of the V downwards, thus bringing his opponent's clock into a vertical position, a movement which starts it going and stops his own.
The two champions are very disappointing outwardly. They are quite young men, without any of the legendary characteristics one has always associated with great chess players.
Mr. Wallace would be taken for a youthful Lord Hopetoun at the period when our late Governor grew his moustache. Sometimes after he has made a move he will rise quickly from the table and walk about the room, looking at the pictures, or will fill his pipe. Again, when contemplating the battle-field he has a habit of folding his arms and rocking himself to and fro; suddenly he will stop and close his eyes for some minutes. When he has decided on a move he makes it in a most decisive manner, lifting the piece and placing it again with a thump. He is a nervous man, and has the lithe pointed fingers of the artist.
Mr. Esling is not as restless as his opponent. The only outward sign of the working of his brain is an almost incessant twirl of his moustache. He smokes his cigar methodically from start to finish, without once letting it go out. Mr. Wallace had to relight his pipe once or twice.
Silence is imperative, and no sound is heard in the room but the ticking of the clock, the occasional striking of a match, or a subdued cough. The two young men sitting at the table are in marked contrast to the dozen or so grizzly, spectacled, massive-headed onlookers around, amongst whom is Sir Hartley Williams, sitting close to the combatants, watching the play so intently that for hours he hardly once changed his position, and never lit the cigar he held in his hand.
In a long room full of smoke upstairs there are a dozen tables, each with its two players and their admirers — in football, barrackers. At a board in the centre of the room the play of the champions below is being followed, each change in the game being brought by a messenger on a slip of paper as soon as made. The position of the champions is thoroughly discussed by those standing round, and schemes suggested apparently advantageous to either side until demonstrated by others how they could be effectively met.>