John Sharples
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‘A quiet game of chess?’
Respectability in urban and literary space
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The idea of chess as urban, respectable, and rational had become a possible image of the game by the late Victorian period, signalled by the attention given to the 1851 inaugural International Chess Tournament in London. This chapter offers a sense of the chess-player as a figure woven around themes of presence, absence, and excess. George Walker was uniquely well placed to reveal the everyday experience of the chess-player within the context of the game's growth as a literary topic and as a physical feature of the Victorian city. By acknowledging the exterior Café de la Régence (the physical building) as a practised space, somewhere where one goes as someone, one acknowledges the physical experience of interior chess-play. Moving inwards to the café's interior, disreputable behaviour is expressed through a number of behavioural and associational modes.

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A cultural history of chess-players

Minds, machines, and monsters


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