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John Saunders


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Tournament: 22nd Varsity Match • Venue: British Chess Club, King Street, London • Date: Thursday 16 March 1894
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1893 • Forward to 1895 • last edited: Monday December 11, 2023 11:32 PM

The 22nd Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at British Chess Club, King Street, Covent Garden, London, on Friday 16 March 1894 with Leopold Hoffer adjudicating unfinished games. Time limit 20 moves an hour.

1893«     1894 Varsity Chess Match     »1895
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1w George Assheton Heginbottom (Pembroke) 0-1 Henry Ernest Atkins (Peterhouse)
2b Robert Garner Lynam (St Catherine's) ½-½ Percyvall Hart-Dyke (Kings)
3w Philip Walsingham Sergeant (Trinity) ½-½ Harold John Snowden (Queens')
4b Ernest Walter Poynton (Exeter) 0-1 Lionel William Pelling Lewis (Peterhouse)
5w Edward Lawton (Corpus Christi) 1-0 Allen Beville Ramsay (King's)
6b Henry Gosse Winfield Cooper (Oriel) 0-1 William Vawdrey Naish (Emmanuel)
7w John Henry Weatherall (Exeter) 1-0 Gilbert Varley (Christ's)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), (compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987); Sergeant, Philip W, A Century of Chess (London 1934, referred to in the text as PWS); The Morning Post, Sat 17 March 1894; BCM, April 1894, p145; BCM, May 1894, p218 (Past Match); Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. All games are available in the download, though boards 4 and 7 are incomplete.

Notes: Club presidents Heginbottom (Oxford) and Hart-Dyke (Cambridge). Boards 2, 3 and 6 were adjudicated by Hoffer. Sergeant's A Century of Chess, passim (e.g. p16, p299): "E. Lawton, from Manchester... unhappily, died a very premature death ... RG Lynam, who was [in 1890] an unattached student at Oxford, and eventually became a doctor .... brother of CC" ... GA Heginbottom... has played sometimes for Cheshire".

"[in 1894] when I was captain, Lynam was still a member and played with us against Cambridge where, incidentally, I played H. E. Atkins and lost owing to my opponent's subtle and almost ungentlemanly manoeuvres ground-baited with innocent looking and apparently digestible pawns. I happened to meet Mr. Atkins 45 years later when I chanced upon him concentrating on a match game and ventured between moves on a whispered and hurried 'Hello, Atkins,' to which he replied with a brief upward glance, 'Hello, Heginbottom,' and reconcentrated immediately - some memory." (George Heginbottom, Letter to the Editor, BCM, March 1939, p112)

1894 Cambridge team

1894 Oxford team

BCM, April 1894, p145: University Chess.—"Boat-race week" has come and gone, and the "battle of the Blues" has been fought both on land and water, with the result that sometimes the "Dark Blues" and sometimes the "Light" has come to the front. In the aquatic world fortune favoured Oxford, and in the chess world Cambridge.

"Of the chess events of Boat-race week, the first came off on 13th March, when a combined team of University players encountered a mixed team of the British Chess Club, at the rooms of the latter. The "Blues" were captained by the strong Oxonian player, Mr. E. M. Jackson, who was opposed by Mr. F. W. Lord. The game was a Queen’s Opening, in the early moves of which Black said “ditto” to White. Mr. Lord now began to dissolve the centre Pawns, but the operation turned out very unfortunate for him as the sequel showed. On the 9th move the position was as follows:

"Notwithstanding this reverse the British had a slight lead. At board No. 2 Mr. Hart-Dyke (the blind player) made a very stubborn defence against Mr. Guest and drew his game, but the other strong British players proved victorious, though on the bottom boards the British lost ground. After Mr. Hoffer had adjudicated on the unfinished games, the total score was British 10½, Universities 8½.

"The next encounter was between the United Universities and the City of London (second team), which took place on the 14th March, at the rooms of the latter. There were only 19 University players present, instead of the expected 20, and the match was played with this number, no forfeit being claimed. The Universities were strengthened by the presence of Messrs. Jackson (Oxford) and Gunston (Cambridge), and against these the City put in two reliable men, Messrs. H. Jones and C. G. Cutler. From the first the fight went very evenly, though the City early got a lead of one, which the Universities were never able to reduce. Great interest was centred on board No. 1, where Mr. Jackson was gradually forcing the fighting against Mr. Jones, until the latter was compelled to yield to the brilliant Oxford player. The game was a French Defence, and after a series of exchanges it presented a somewhat ragged appearance.

"Mr. Cutler made a stubborn defence against Mr. Gunston, and succeeded in drawing, and Mr. Peachey won for the City on the 3rd board. On the lower boards the Universities showed a marked improvement on their play of earlier years, and it took all that the City seconds knew to enable them to fairly hold their own. After adjudication by Mr. A. Guest, the final score was City 10½, United Universities 8½, or exactly the same as in the match of the previous night."

"This is the tenth annual match between the City Seconds and the United Blues, and the City now leads by four matches, having won in 1885-86, 1890-1-2-3-4, whilst the Varsities have won in 1887-8-9. The City men have scored a total of 107½, and the United Universities 90½.

"The third event of the week was the match between the United Universities and the Metropolitan, which was played at the rooms of the latter, on the 15th March. The Metropolitan put a really strong team in the field, of which Mr. J. T. Heppell was captain, whilst the Universities were deprived of the services of Mr. E. M. Jackson—who was fighting for the Metropolitan against the City—and his place as captain was taken by Mr. Gunston. Like the other two matches the contest was a very close one, the “Blues” playing in fine form, and at one time it looked as if they would draw the match at the very least, for at 10.30 p.m. the score stood 5 all. At 11.00p.m. “cease play” was called, and after the adjudication of unfinished games the Metropolitan proved the winner by two games, with the score: Metropolitan 11, United Universities 9.

"The Inter-University match itself was played at the British Chess Club, on the 16th March, and this was the last event of the week. The club-room, as usual, was adorned with festoons of light and dark blue, and there was a considerable gathering of spectators. Each University was represented by seven players, Mr. H. E. Atkins being the captain of the Cantabs and Mr. J. H. Higginbothom [sic] of the Oxonians. There was a time-limit of 20 moves an hour; but in spite of this three games had to be left for adjudication. The game at board No. 1 was a Four Knights Opening and was the first one decided, thereby giving “first blood” to Cambridge. After the opening moves Mr. Atkins soon got the attack into his hands and elegantly forced the game. [full score available]

"At board No. 2 Mr. Hart-Dyke (the clever Cambridge blind player) played in good style right through against Mr. Lynam’s French Defence, and in the mid-game he had a pretty attack, and won a piece in the position as shown on the above diagram. [full score available] and the game was adjudicated a draw, for Black can obtain an equivalent in Pawns against the minus piece.

"Mr. Sergeant, at board No. 3, opened with a Ruy Lopez, in which pieces were exchanged early, and some brisk play ensued when he lost a piece, leaving the following position for adjudication :— [full score available]

"Black’s last move was 28...RxKt [28...Rxc5], thereby gaining a clear piece, but an absolute win is not easily to be demonstrated, and Mr. Hoffer gave it in as drawn." [So says BCM, but the full score as given by Chess Monthly runs to 47 moves - BCM is surely in error]

"At board No. 4 Mr. Lewis opened with a Centre Gambit [actually a Centre Game rather than a Centre Gambit, which is 1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 Bc4 according to an article in BCM, August 1898, p324], and on the 11th move gained a piece in the position shown on the above diagram. Mr. Poynton now played 11...d5 (a bad move which costs a piece), and the game went on [partial score available] and White ultimately won.

"At board No. 5 Mr. Lawton played a Scotch Game, and Black got a somewhat broken up game, of which the following is a position on move 26:— [full score available]

"At board No. 6 Mr. Naish adopted a Ruy Lopez, and Mr. Cooper sacrificed a Pawn, and subsequently a piece, for an attack which he pushed vigorously, getting a Pawn down to the 7th square, as shown in above diagram. He had spent his strength in vain however, for the game went on [full score available], and Mr. Hoffer adjudicated the game as a win lor White.

"The game on board No. 7 was a very empty affair, for Mr. Varley in defending a Scotch game got his Kt embayed on K’s 6, and having no road open to escape it was lost on the 12th move, and with this advantage winning was easy for Mr. Weatherall. [partial score available]

"At the call of time the scores were even—2 all—with three games for adjudication, and of these Mr. Hoffer gave 1 win to Cambridge and 2 draws; making the final score Cambridge 4, Oxford 3.

"This is the twenty-second match between the two Universities, and Cambridge now leads by 15 matches to 6, with one drawn."

"In the evening the two teams and friends dined with the British Chess Club, Mr. Geo. Newnes, M.P., being in the chair. After the usual loyal toasts, the chairman gave the toast of the evening, "Both Universities," which was acknowledged by Mr. P. Hart-Dyke (Cambridge U.C.C.) and Mr. Higginbotham (President Oxford U.C.C.). A smoking concert followed.

"Arrangements are being made for a match between Past Oxford and Past Cambridge, which will be played at the British C.C., on April 6th."

Universities Trial Matches

Tuesday 13 March - Combined Universities 8½, British CC 10½
Wednesday 14 March - Combined Universities 8½, City of London 2nds 10½
Thursday 15 March - Combined Universities 9, Metropolitan 11
Friday 6 April - Oxford Past 6, Cambridge Past 7

1894 Oxford Past v Cambridge Past Match, Friday 6 April, at British Chess Club (5th Match) (7.30-11.30pm)

1894 Oxford Past v Cambridge Past Match
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1 Charles Dealtry Locock (University) ½-½ Rev. John Owen (Trinity)
2 Edward Mackenzie Jackson (New) ½-½ William Hewison Gunston (St John's)
3 Rev. Charles Edward Ranken (Wadham) ½-½ Wordsworth Donisthorpe (Trinity)
4 George Edward Wainwright (University) 1-0 Francis Parker Carr (St Catharine's)
5 Alexander George Gordon Ross (New) 0-1 Herman George Gwinner (Trinity)
6 Rev. Lewis Woodward Lewis (Lincoln) 1-0 John Neville Keynes (Pembroke)
7 Hubert Foster Lowe (Balliol) ½-½ George Adolphus Schott (Trinity)
8 Rev. John Francis Welsh (Christ Church) ½-½ Dr Frederick Deighton (Peterhouse)
9 Wallace Mackenzie Le Patourel (Balliol) ½-½ Rev. James Fearn Sugden (Trinity Hall) §
10 Rev. Robert George Hunt (Merton) ½-½ William Rogers Fisher (St John's)
11 Rev. Edward Ilbert Crosse (Exeter) 0-1 Efric Leofwin Kearney (St Catharine's)
12 John Frederick Francis Whall Ure (Christ Church) 0-1 Edward Young (Corpus Christi)
13 Arthur Schomberg * (Oriel) ½-½ Rev. James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto (Trinity)

Sources: The Field, 14 April 1894, p514; BCM, May 1894, p218: "University Chess.—What may be considered the “finish” of the University chess season was reached on 6th April, when a match was played between Past Oxonians and Past Cantabs, at the British Chess Club. The match was a very close one, but in the end Cambridge won by 7 to Oxford 6. Mr. L. Hoffer acted as adjudicator."
Board 1 was adjudicated. "Mr Locock had somewhat the best of it, but Mr Hoffer, who had to adjudicate the game, gave it as a draw, as an absolute win could not have been demonstrated within the next few moves."

§ BCM gives "Rev. J. F. Engden" but The Field gives "Rev. J. F. Sugden."
* BCM gives "A. F. Schomberg" but The Field gives "A. Schomberg" (note, neither source gives college affiliations). My first thought was that this must be Reginald Brodrick Schomberg (New College, 1849-1932) who took part in the 1873 match, but on reflection I see no reason not to believe it was his elder brother Arthur Schomberg (4 October 1847 – 7 March 1924), who was at Oriel College from 1867 and was very active in Wiltshire and SCCU chess around this time.

Gareth Williams, in CHESS, May 2004, p32-33: "A hundred and ten years ago, in 1894, the varsity match was treated as an annual chess festival. During 'The University Week' matches were arranged between a combined Oxford and Cambridge team to play against three leading London clubs. These were played over twenty boards. The first was played on the evening of the 13th March against the British Chess Club. On the 14th the Universities played the City of London, followed by the Metropolitan on the 15th. The results were narrow defeats in each match for the young scholarly gentlemen. As reported, "The Universities were opposed by strong teams, they acquitted themselves creditably to their difficult task. In all these matches the Universities were deprived of the powerful aid which Mr. Atkins might have given them had he been able to fight in their ranks." HJ Snowden, like Sergeant, went to St Paul's School.

"As the inclusion of Luke McShane, with his potential to become one of Britain's greatest Grandmasters, has enhanced the interest in this year's varsity match, so it was in 1894, when Henry Ernest Atkins (1872-1955) represented Cambridge, who won that year by the closest margin of 4-3. This was the twenty-second varsity match, after which the overall result stood at 15 to Cambridge, 6 to Oxford with one drawn.

"Atkins defeated his opponent G.H.Higginbotham [sic], 'brilliantly with the sacrifice of both rooks, leading to a forced mate'.

"Harry Golombek thought highly of Atkins and in 1966 gave his opinion as to who was the strongest British chessplayer? - 'Blackburne certainly achieved the most in the way of tournament successes; and if tournament success is the criterion, then one must award the palm to him. I entertain the hope that one day Jonathan Penrose will rival him in tournament triumphs-but that is yet to come. Meanwhile I am convinced that the strongest player was none of these, but that the Yorkshire schoolmaster, H.E. Atkins, was our best player. Of him alone in British chess could it be truly said that he had the makings of a world champion.'

"Atkins was a schoolmaster who devoted only sporadic time to chess, yet because of his natural talent became known on the Continent as 'the little Steinitz'. He won the British Championship nine times, (Penrose is the only one to surpass this achievement, with one extra title). Atkins competed only infrequently in major international tournaments, his most notable result coming at Hanover, 1902, where he finished third after Pillsbury and Janowsky. His other major tournament was London 1922, where he came 10th. The new world champion Capablanca came first but Atkins had the consolation of having defeated Rubinstein and Tartakower.

"Another player in this match, Philip Walsingham Sergeant (1871-1952) was to make a significant contribution to chess history. He drew his game, playing on board three for Oxford. However it is as a chess author that he is best known, having written a number of significant books. Probably the best known of these are Morphy's Games of Chess, 1917, and A Century of British Chess, 1934.

"The University Week concluded after the match with a 'Grand Banquet' held by the British Chess Club. Among the team players representing the London clubs and Universities were also many V. I. P.s from both Houses of Parliament. The Banquet was finished by a smoking concert, which concluded earlier than usual, as the teams and members were invited, as the guests of Mr. Newnes, to witness the Boat Race on the following morning. Ah for the good old days!" (CHESS, May 2004, p32-33)

File updated

Date Notes
11 April 2021 Original upload.
7 April 2022 Made various amendments. Apologies for the state of the original upload: I had not meant to make it live.
8 April 2022 Added details of the 1894 Oxford Past v Cambridge Past match.


All material © 2020 John Saunders