12 November 2012

Portrait of La Bourdonnais

After the brief interlude for Nothing Much to See Here, I continued with About to Tripod and added Portrait of La Bourdonnais to my page on Chess History. 'Portrait' is one of my favorite player sketches. It starts,

A change comes over the Régence, and the noise reaches its climax, as if the elements of confusion in the caldron had received their final stirabout. What portly form do we see making its way through the crowd, at this, the eleventh hour? Fifty persons accost him at once, all eager to wind up the evening with one more game; -- all shouting, and laughing, and screaming, with the peculiar and prodigious gesticulations of La belle France, rising many octaves above concert pitch. The crash is terrific.

Not to know the potentate who enters with noise exceeding that of drum and trumpet, were indeed to prove yourself unknown. The new-comer is De la Bourdonnais, since the retirement of Deschapelles, the acknowledged first chess-player in the world.

Someone once said it sounds more like a rock star than a chess player. The sketch is the last piece of a series titled Excerpt from The Café de la Régence, by a Chess-player [Part 1/7], from Fraser's Magazine, Vol. XXII, July to December, 1840.

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