The Sands of Time Ever Flow…

Well, one post I made to a forum made the claim that the invention of the chess clock was one of the most revolutionary events in chess history. I actually placed it after the medieval modification of how the queen moves. My comment was in response to someone else’s comment that the invention of tournaments was perhaps the most revolutionary act in chess. The comment struck me as thought provoking, and if I find some time I’ll try to dig out the thread and put in references. (The adoption of hour glasses for chess occurred sometime in the 1860’s).

But for the moment I want to share this historical engraving, I believe made from a photograph, of  Café de la Régence (1874) signed by the engraver, L. Chapon (please click to view enlarged image):


This is a very high quality reproduction of the engraving, found on

There is a painting of this engraving which is featured on Wikipedia. I’ll show it here:


There is an information thread on discussing this work:

It appears the painting is but a drawing made into an engraving. Here is a description of the “masterpiece” and the source of information below:

The main players Chess Cafe de la Regence
The last major tournament
Drawing (by) Mr. Horsin-Deon from photographs
L. Chapon, engraver
Paris, 1874

BNF, Prints and Photography (Kh 449 Fol 3 M.23 T. 192)
Copyright © BNF, Prints & Photography – Artists
Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
(cf. BNF, Prints and Photography – Cafe de la Regence)

SOURCE: (stale link –sorry)


See also

Edward Winter comments on this drawing,

I’ll show his vision of the engraving – it is large but low (scanned(?)) quality:


Which is a shame, for the significance of this engraving goes beyond just the identified participants:

The Café de la Régence, 1874. (Samuel) Rosenthal is second from the right in the bottom right-hand corner.”

Other people/players in the painting: “Ignatz Kolisch stands at the right. He watches a game between Levy and white haired Devinck in the Café de la Régence.”

[ed- see gameknot links]

Only in the first image is the appearance of a hour glass unmistakable – on the second board from the left, just to the left of the player with the bowler hat. It partially obscures the mustached man’s tie who is facing us. In all the other images it is harder to identify, especially if you aren’t looking for it specifically.

In fact, I find it a bit humorous that E. Winter actually publishes an appeal to his readership (wintership?) to help locate pictures of early games using hour glasses:

5912. Sand-glass timers

David Kuhns (St Paul, MN, USA) asks for references to illustrations of players using a sand-glass timer (hour-glass). (~2008)

I wonder if Mr. Winter realized he was in possession of maybe one of the most famous examples of such an illustration? I actually wonder how many other people realized this as well? (It doesn’t seem commented on too frequently, given how often the engraving is reproduced on the web).





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