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John Saunders


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Tournament: 12th Varsity Match • Venue: St. George's Chess Club, 47 Albemarle St, Piccadilly • Date: Thursday 3 April 1884
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1883 • Forward to 1885 • last edited: Wednesday September 6, 2023 5:55 PM

The 12th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St. George's Chess Club, 47 Albemarle St, Piccadilly, London, on Thursday 3 April 1884 with HE Bird adjudicating unfinished games. Start time 2.00pm, end time 6.00pm.

1883«     1884 Varsity Chess Match     »1885
Bd Oxford University Game 1 Game 2 Cambridge University Opening
1w Charles Dealtry Locock (University) 1-0   Frank Morley (King's) French Def (adjudicated)
2b George Edward Wainwright (University) 0-1 0-1 George William Kuechler (Sidney Sussex) 2nd game - Vienna Game
3w James Manders Walker (Wadham) ½-½   Edward Lancelot Raymond (Christ's) Giuoco Piano
4b Frederick Tracey (Exeter) ½-½   William Pengelly Buncombe (Non-Coll.) Philidor's Def
5w Harold Seward (Balliol) 0-1 ½-½ Rev. Hugh William Sherrard (Non-Coll.) 2nd game - Ruy Lopez
6b William Alexander Shearer (Exeter) 1-0   James Thornton Gibson (Clare) French def
7w Richard Whieldon Barnett (Wadham) 1-0 0-1 Herman George Gwinner (Trinity)  
    4½-5½ Date: 3 April 1884  

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), (compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987); The Field, 12 April 1884; BCM, 1884, p204ff; Chess-Monthly, Vol.5, May 1884, ppn 261-2; Sergeant, Philip W, A Century of Chess (London 1934), (ref'd as PWS); FreeBMD & other statutory records; Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. Six of the ten games played (and one part-game) are available in the download.

BCM, 1884, p204ff

"The twelfth Inter-University contest took place on Thursday April 3rd at the St. George's Chess Club, play lasting from 2.00 to 6.00p.m. Unusual interest attached itself to this year's contest as the result last year had been a tie, and many confidently predicted a win for the Oxonians, especially after the result of the match with the St. George's Club, in which the Dark Blues defeated a strong third-class team reinforced by two members of the first and second classes respectively. Cambridge had all the members of last year's team playing, the only difference being that Kuchler and Baymond changed places, while Locock, Wainwright, and Walker were the remaining Oxford representatives of last year. The Oxford President had his usual luck in winning the toss, and shortly after 2-0 play began, the Dark Blues having the move in four out of the first seven games.

"The chief interest centred round the first board where Morley (Cambridge) played French Defence to Locock (Oxford). After a bold and vigorous attack on the part of the Oxonian the game was referred to the decision of the Umpire (Mr. H. E. Bird), who gave it in favour of Oxford after 15 minutes consideration. At board No. 2 Wainwright had an advantage of four pawns which he failed to maintain, and the game went to Kuchler. The former played the Vienna opening in his second game and speedily secured a decisive advantage, but afterwards completely threw away a dead won game which again resulted in Kuchler's favour. At No. 3 the Oxford President played the Giuoco Piano with Raymond who gained the exchange at the 20th move, but committing an oversight even at the eleventh hour the game became a draw after a long struggle. At No. 4 Tracey played Philidor's Defence and won a pawn on the 13th move. When time was called both players agreed to a draw without awaiting the Umpire's decision, though the Oxonian appeared to have slightly the advantage. At No. 5 Sherrard (Cambridge) defeated Seward in the first game, of which no score was kept, and the second, a Ruy Lopez, resulted in a draw. At No. 6 Shearer (Oxford) played French Defence, and after a hard fight of 67 moves scored a win. At No. 7 the result was equal, the Cambridge President losing the first and scoring the second game. At 6.15pm the final result was Cambridge 5½, Oxford 4½.

"At eight o'clock both teams were entertained at a dinner given by the members of the St. George's Club at the Criterion. Mr. Minchin took the chair in the absence of the Earl of Dartrey, K.P. After the toast of the Royal Family, given by the chairman, Mr. Francis alluded, in a speech of great feeling, to the loss the Chess world had sustained by the death of the Duke of Albany. A toast to his memory was drunk in solemn silence. The toast of "The Universities" was responded to by the Cambridge President (Mr. H. G. H. Gwinner) and the Oxford President (Mr. J. M. Walker). The latter alluded to the connection of the Duke of Albany with the Oxford University Chess Club of which H.R.H. was President in 1873. Mr. J. H. Warner proposed " The Umpire " and Mr. Bird replied. Mr. W. M. Gattie then proposed " The Chess Press" to which the Rev. W. Wayte and Mr. Hoffer replied. After " The Chairman " had been proposed the proceedings terminated."

[Chess-Monthly, Vol.5, May 1884, p.260-2]


"After the practice against the several provincial Clubs, reported in our last issue, the Universities commenced their annual trial matches against the metropolitan players previous to their combat against each other. The following is the result of the matches with the City Club:—

"Oxford University v. City of London.—On the 1st ult. [April 1884] a large concourse of members and visitors assembled to witness the match arranged for that evening. Oxford was again opposed, as on previous occasions, by the fourth class of the City. The Oxford team may be considered fairly representative, although Mr. Wainwright was an absentee. As soon as tho games were well in progress it was evident that the players were evenly matched, and at ten o’clock, whon play ceased, the score stood 3$ each. Only one game remained unfinished, and this was adjudicated by the umpire, Mr. Horwitz, as drawn. Appended is the full score:— [full individual scores given: Oxford University 4, City of London 4]

"Cambridge University v. City of London.—This match was played simultaneously with the above; but Cambridge had to contend against the third class of the City. From the list below it will be seen that the City brought the best players of that class in the field, and so did Cambridge. We should have thought, however, that Cambridge ought to have emerged from the struggle with a better proportion than they actually obtained, especially with Messrs. Keynes, Gunston, and Carr among them. When time was called the score was Cambridge 3½ to the City's 5½. Two unfiuished games were adjudicated by Mr. Horwitz as drawn, which brought the total as under:— [full individual scores given: Cambridge 4½, City of London 6½]

"Oxford University v. St. George’s Chess Club.—Elated with their partial success against the City, the Oxonians were eager to try conclusions with the third class of the St. George’s, on the 2nd ult. [April 1884]. Of the opposing team Mr. Warner belongs to a class above; but Mr. Boursot, who was unavoidably absent, had to be replaced, and Mr. Warner volunteered to complete the team. The opponents were well paired, and the result ought to have been a drawn match. The balance was in the hands of General Pearse, who consented to draw his game, when he might have succeeded in scoring it in favour of his side. It was pointed out by Mr. H. C. Malkin that General Pearse could have won if Mr. Tracey had exchanged Queens, which the latter candidly admitted to have been his intention. The following is the full score:— [full individual scores given: Oxford 4½, St Georges 3½]

"The Universities v. Brighton.—On the 5th ult. [April 1884] the representatives of both Universities concluded their week of contests by fighting side by side against a strong team of Brighton representatives. The match came off in the rooms of the City Club. Mr. Blackburne acted as umpire. The Universities were represented by four players from Oxford and four from Cambridge, while Brighton brought a picked eight to oppose them. Play commenced at 5 and ended at 9 p.m., when the Universities were victorious by seven games to six. Oxford contributed four and Cambridge three games to the score. Mr. Blackburne adjudicated an unfinished game between Messrs. Morley and Pierce as drawn. The following is the score:— [full individual scores given: Universities 7, Brighton 6]


"The twelfth annual match between the two Universities took place on the 3rd ult. [April] at the St. George's Chess Club. The conditions remained the same as on former occasions - viz., play to begin at 2 o'clock and to last until 6; no second game to be commenced after 5 o'clock ; the unfinished games to be adjudicated by the umpire. This year the honour of umpireship was conferred upon Mr. H. E. Bird. The question here arises as to the advisability of having unfinished games adjudicated upon. Might it not be suggested that play should commence rather earlier ? - say twelve o'clock instead of two hours or even more later. Six hours would be ample to finish one game between slow players, and two games could be easily got through by the faster players. A great responsibility rests with the umpire. The result of the contest might depend upon his decision, and we all know that complicated positions may present themselves requiring a careful analysis, and this could certainly not be done in the space of a few minutes which the umpire has at his disposal. Besides there might be several unfinished games with difficult positions, when the task of arriving at a fair decision could not possibly be accomplished by the umpire at the spur of the moment. It is, therefore, an important matter of consideration for the Universities whether it were not better to begin two hours earlier than hitherto.

"The combatants were assembled and ready a little after 2 o'clock. Oxford won the toss for first move, and play commenced. Oxford had four new players, whereas Cambridge opposed them with exactly the same seven as last year; it is, therefore, not surprising that the latter were the favourites.

"The Dinner took place at 8 o'clock at the Criterion, Mr. Minchin, in the absence of the Earl of Dartrey, in the Chair. One of our contemporaries took umbrage at this hospitable entertainment, owing to the melancholy death of H.R.H. Prince Leopold. If the writer, however, had been present and listened to the eloquent tribute paid by Mr. Francis, Mr. Minchin, and Mr. Walker, the President of the Oxford University Chess Club, to the memory of the late Duke of Albany, he probably would have agreed with ourselves, that in the present instance the Dinner seemed to have been held for the special purpose of giving Chess-players at a Chess gathering an opportunity of expressing publicly their regret at the untimely loss. Besides the gentlemen mentioned above, Mr. Warner proposed "The Umpire," and Mr. Bird replied; Mr. Gattie brought out "The Press," coupled with the names of the Rev. Mr. Wayte and Mr. Hoffer, and both responded. Mr. Gattie related a short reminiscence of a visit to Oxford, and the proceedings terminated at an unusually early hour.

"Cambridge, therefore, holds the palm with five won matches and nineteen games to their credit.

"With a technical review of the play we may dispense, as the reader will be able to form his own opinion in reading the games. Six of them we publish in full, besides a position of Board No. 6. Ten games have been played altogether; but some were imperfectly recorded, and one or two not at all.

File updated

Date Notes
28 March 2022 Original upload.
6 September 2023 Some more paragraphs of the Chess-Monthly report added and game sources corrected. My thanks to Jason Radley for drawing my attention to this.


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