<MR. BLACKBURNE IN ADELAIDE.
BLINDFOLD CHESS EXHIBITION.
The announcement that Mr. J. H. Blackburne, the champion English chessplayer, was to give a blindfold exhibition in Adelaide, naturally caused quite a stir among the chess playing community of the colony.
Few men have ever achieved the chess fame of Mr. Blackburne. Though now but 42 years of age, he has been for 20 years continuously before the public as a great chess-player.
Unlike most professional chess-players, Mr. Blackburne is exceedingly popular on account of his personal qualities. He never mixes himself up in the squabbles which some professionals are everlastingly thrusting upon the public, and throughout his whole career he has never lost a fraction of the popularity which he gained soon after he entered the chess arena.
Mr. Blackburne consented to cope with eight players simultaneously, and he was not averse to the cream of South Australian chessists being chosen as his adversaries. It turned out, however, that two or three of the principal players were unable to take part in the contest, but a good team was eventually organised of the following:-
Messrs. G. Chamier, H. Charlick. H. B. Funnell, E. Govett, <J. Mann>, and W. D. Scott, of the Adelaide Chess Club, Mr. A. Holloway of Angaston, and Mr. G. Wilson of Daveyston.
His Excellency the Governor (patron of the club) kindly consented to attend, and soon after the doors of the Exchange-room were opened on Tuesday evening quite a muster of chess-players and their friends, including a few ladies, put in an appearance, the number present throughout the evening comprising over two hundred.
The boards were arranged each on separate tables down the length of the hall, four on each side, the numbers being given to the players as they ranged alphabetically.
Mr. Blackburne was seated upon a platform at the extreme end of the hall, not actually blindfolded, but having his face turned away from the direction of the boards. As the moves were called out by Mr. Blackburne, Mr. Barrett, who acted as teller, saw that they were made on the respective boards, and called out the answering moves to the blindfold player.
The champion started with the orthodox P to K 4 at each board.
At No. 1 board Mr. Chamier replied with the Greco Counter Gambit, Mr. Charlick and his neighbour Mr. Funnell each adopted the French Defence of P to K 3, while Mr. Govett took up the Sicilian Defence of P to Q B 4 and P to K 3. At No. 4 board Mr. Holloway replied with P to K 4, and accepted the dashing Allgaier-Kieseritzky variation of the King's Gambit - a very plucky thing for him to attempt. <Mr. Mann at No. 5 board also played P to K 4, and had to meet the Danish Gambit>, and the other two players adopted the French Defence.
Play started at about half-past 7 o'clock, when Mr. Blackburne ascended the platform amidst loud cheers from the assemblage.
His Excellency the Governor came in and had a look round, being apparently much interested in the proceedings.
Expressions of great surprise at Mr. Blackburne's wonderful skill were frequent throughout the evening, and it was indeed wonderful to see him calmly sitting down with a cigar in his mouth calling out telling moves in positions of deep intricacy in the most intricate of games.
Some of the games required the most careful analysis, and could only be successfully conducted at all by examining perhaps six or ten moves, with as many variations of each.
In several instances he attempted brilliant strategic movements, and though, of course, his play was not so accurate as in general practice, yet it was quite as interesting.
For fully three hours no game was actually completed, but <at a quarter to 11 Mr. Mann announced that he would resign.>
A little later on Mr. Govett, having lost the exchange, and with a bad position, also resigned.
Great interest was centred round Mr. Holloway's game. For a long time it seemed as if the Angaston player was going to win, but Mr. Blackburne cleverly succeeded in wriggling out of his unsuccessful Allgaier and preventing his adversary obtaining any other advantage than a draw.
The other games were unfinished.>