<Shortly after 2 o'clock the contestants entered the room of the Melbourne Chess Club, and Sir Hartley Williams, the president of the club, having taken the chair, the proceedings were commenced by Mr. T. Harlin, who briefly referred to former chess congresses in Australia, and the match between Mr. Wallace and Mr. Crane, which had determined the destination of the chess championship of Australia since Mr. Charlick won it in the first Australian chess congress at Adelaide in 1887.
He alluded to the causes which had prevented Mr. Esling playing for the championship at the Melbourne Centennial Chess Congress of 1888,
Australian Championship (1888)
and adverted to the match, about 18 months ago, when Mr. Wallace in turn took the coveted title from Mr. Crane.
He spoke of the handsome and chivalrous manner in which Mr. Wallace had waived the condition by which he could have insisted on having the match played in Sydney.
Mr. Harlin concluded his remarks by reference to the happy connection between law and chess which had existed in relation to the two most important chess events in Melbourne of late years, the opening of the Melbourne Centennial Chess Congress of 1888, by the late Chief Justice Higinbotham, and the present inauguration presided over by Sir Hartley Williams.
Sir Hartley Williams, who was greeted with warm applause, expressed delight on behalf of all Victorian chess players in meeting Mr. Wallace and also the pleasure felt in the manner in which he had waived the condition he could have imposed, to have the match then about to be proceeded with played in Sydney.
Mr. Wallace was a young man. He trusted his youth would not be urged as a crime against him, for he remembered the time when he himself went upon the bench at the age of 36, and the adverse criticism of friends and others not his friends because of his youth. He had got over that. In common with other Victorian chess players, he hoped Mr. Wallace would not sweep the board here as he had in Queensland and New South Wales.
Mr. Esling, the champion of Victoria, had his sympathies and all his best wishes, and he trusted he would come through the ordeal triumphantly. As this might not prove to be the case, he personally, and on behalf of the Victorian chess players, would be prepared to tender hearty and sympathetic congratulations to Mr. Wallace on his retention of the championship.
Mr. Louis Ellis, as one of the old players, reverted to the old chess times of Melbourne. He recalled the first meeting, held in 1866, to form a chess club in Victoria, which was held in the very building they were then assembled in. He saw a few of those old members present, including Mr. L. Goldsmith, Mr. A. Burns, Mr. P. D. Phillips and others.
After Mr. Harlin had explained the arrangements for the conduct of the match and the attendances of the members of the club and the public, the players tossed for first move, which was won by Mr. Esling.
The first move (P to K 4) was then made on the board by Sir Hartley Williams, and the opening proceedings terminated.
Mr. A Burns, as referee, and Messrs. Harlin and Dunn, the umpires, were in attendance, and the game was watched throughout with great interest by the president and a number of visitors, including Mr. P. B. Walker, of Sydney, a prominent supporter of the game there.
Mr. Wallace defended the opening game of the match with the French Defence, and the game proceeded on the modern lines laid down by Steinitz, Tarrasch and other masters.
White's development appeared to proceed more rapidly than that of his opponent, and, as a result, a very lively game was initiated by White about his 20th move, when he sacrificed a pawn for a strong attacking position, which, at the adjournment, had reached a critical juncture for both players.
The ending will, no doubt, greatly interest the numerous players who, in a room apart from the competitors, followed and analysed the varying features of the contest.
We append the moves of the first game so far as it proceeded to the adjournment at 5 p.m. on Saturday, when Mr. Wallace considered his 28th move, and sealed it at 5.15 p.m.
It will be noticed that the time taken by each player over his moves is about the same, and that this time is a good deal faster than the time limit fixed, 15 moves an hour for each player.
The match will he resumed at 2 p.m. this afternoon (10th June) and continued to 5.15 p.m., and there will be a resumption of play from 7.45 to 11.15 p.m.>