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John Saunders


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Tournament: 26th Varsity Match • Venue: British Chess Club, 37 King Street, London • Date: Friday 25 March 1898
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1897 • Forward to 1899 • last edited: Monday September 4, 2023 7:25 PM

The 26th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London, on Friday 25 March 1898.

1897«     1898 Varsity Chess Match     »1899
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1b Edward George Spencer-Churchill (Magdalen) 0-1 Creassey Edward Cecil Tattersall (Trinity)
2w Arthur Hereford Wykeham George (New) 0-1 Lachlan McLean (King's)
3b Arthur Percival Lacy Hulbert (Keble) 1-0 Harold Goodlake Softlaw (Trinity Hall)
4w Arthur Henry Augustus Currie (Brasenose) 1-0 Alexander Fotheringham (Emmanuel)
5b Frederick Soddy (Merton) ½-½ Alfred William Foster (St John's)
6w Frederick Augustus Babcock (Wadham) ½-½ Richard Samuel Makower (Trinity)
7b Llewellyn Theodore Dodd (Merton) 0-1 Harold Rigby Cullen (Caius)
  Venue: British Chess Club 3-4 Date: Friday 25 March 1898

Main 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); BCM, April 1898, ppn 174-175 & May 1898, p204; Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. All seven games are available in the download.

(1) Club presidents Spencer-Churchill (Oxford) and Tattersall (Cambridge)
(2) [start time]
(3) Match umpire was Leopold Hoffer

BCM, April 1898, ppn 174-175: "Boat-race Week Chess.—Boat-race week has come and gone, bringing with it its usual crop of 'Varsity matches. The principal event of the week, however, occurs so late in the month that we can only give the briefest details now, leaving fuller reports for our next issue.

"On 21st March, the United Universities (past and present) played the Metropolitan Club, the match resulting in a draw, 9½ each.

"On 22nd, the United Universities (past and present) played a very strong combination of players from the British Chess Club, headed by Messrs. A. Burn and C. D. Locock, the British winning by 11½ to 10½.

"On the 23rd, the United Universities (past and present), headed by Mr. E. M. Jackson, played a combined team of City of London players, with Mr. T. F. Lawrence at their head. The City players were in great form and achieved a sweeping victory, the final score being City 16½, United Universities 3½, the latter being made up of 1 win and 5 draws.

"The Inter-University match itself was played on the 25th, the result being a win for Cambridge by 4 to 3 This is the 26th annual match of its kind, and the result now is that Cambridge has won 16 matches, Oxford 9 matches, and that 1 match has been drawn."

BCM, May 1898, p204: "The Inter-University Match.—In the April number of the B.C.M. we were only able to give the bare result of the Inter-University match, which was played on the 25th March. We now append the full score:—"

"The Oxford team was unfortunate on the top two boards, for both Mr. Churchill and Mr. George broke down in their respective openings, and it really looked at first as if the result would be entirely one-sided; but in the centre of the team the Oxford men made a good fight, and though they could not avert defeat they certainly saved a rout.

"We append diagrams of interesling positions on the various boards."

"On the 18th March, the Cambridge University C.C. (present members only) defeated St. George’s by 5½ to 1½."

"Mr. Tattersall, president Cambridge U.C.C., asks us to correct the statement that it was a United team of Cambridge and Oxford players that defeated the Ladies on the 19th March. The victorious team was entirely made up of Cambridge men.

"On the 28th March, a team consisting of eleven Cambridge men and two Oxford men played Hastings, the University men winning by 7½ to 5½."

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Saturday 02 April 1898: "CHESS CHAT. On the whole the campaign of the University Chess players in London must be regarded as satisfactory and successful. That the play of the undergraduates reached a remarkably high standard is proved by their encounters with the Metropolitan and British Clubs. Oxford and Cambridge played these matches in combination, and, it is true, had the assistance of some of their old members ; but some very experienced players represented the London Clubs, and the results attained were a tie with the Metropolitan, each side scoring 9½ and an almost similar termination with the British, which could only win by the odd game, viz., 11½ to 10½. After these events, and also bearing in mind some recent experiences of their own, it was natural that the City Club should make a special effort to avert disaster, and this they did so effectively that they entirely over-matched the Universities, and won by 16½ to 3½. It was certainly something of an achievement on the part of the Universities to induce such a strong company of City men to take the field.

"In these contests there was not much to choose between the form of Oxford and that of Cambridge, and they cannot be said to have given much indication of the probable result of the annual University contest. The Cambridge men had, however, proved themselves rather more keen than their opponents by making additional fixtures for the Saturday before the campaign with the Ladies’ Chess Club, and for last Monday, after their week of strife, with the enterprising Chess Club of Hastings, to take place in the Queen’s Hotel at that pleasant holiday resort. It suffices here to mention that Cambridge succeeded in making scores of 11 to 7 against the Ladies, and to against Hastings.

"In regard to the match between the two Universities it is to be noted that there have been many changes in the teams of both sides since last year, and this circumstance added to the element of uncertainty that attached to the contest. Out of the twenty-five annual matches that had been played before that of last week Cambridge had won fifteen and Oxford nine, while one had resulted in a tie; but the last three contests had been won by Oxford, so that the opinion was rife that the standard of play in that University had greatly improved. Oxford, moreover, retained the assistance of their accomplished captain Mr. E. G. Spencer Churchill, who had defeated the Cambridge captain Mr. Crowley last year, and had distinguished himself in the trial matches by beating Mr. Leonard of the Metropolitan Club, and drawing with Mr. Wagner of the City Club. The Cambridge representatives were led by Mr. C. E. C. Tattersall, who had on previous occasions distinguished himself in the University team.

"The match was played at the British Chess Club on Friday, March 25th, each University being, as usual, represented by seven players. The encounter between Mr. Churchill and Mr. Tattersall naturally occasioned a great deal of interest among the members and visitors, and it was observed with some surprise that so able an amateur as the Oxford captain had committed an error in conducting the French defence. As the result of this he was obliged to lose the exchange; and Mr. Tattersall, though he had to contend against the majority of pawns, found this advantage sufficient to enable him to win the game. On the second board, also, Oxford met with disaster, for Mr. McLean obtained so telling a counter attack against the Bishop’s gambit played by Mr. George as to easily score another victory. The games on the next two boards, however, made matters even, and both the fifth and sixth encounters led to draws; but a win on the last board of all gave the victory to Cambridge by the odd game."


Friday 18 March - Cambridge University 5½, St George's 1½
Saturday 19 March - Cambridge University 7, Ladies 4 [BCM, April 1898, p173 says "Combined Universities" but later corrected - May 1898, p207]
Monday 21 March - Combined Universities 9½, Metropolitan 9½
Tuesday 22 March - Combined Universities 10½, British CC 11½
Wednesday 23 March - Combined Universities 3½, City of London 16½
Monday 28 March - Combined Universities 7½, Hastings 5½

(earlier match) 5 March - Cambridge University v St George's (played at Cambridge)

File updated

Date Notes
17 April 2022 Original upload. Biographical details and match reports to be added later.
All material © 2022 John Saunders