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John Saunders


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Event: 57th Varsity Match • Venue: City of London Chess Club, Wardrobe Court, London EC • Date: 18 March 1933
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1932 • Forward to 1934 • last edited: Monday March 18, 2024 11:57 AM

The 57th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at City of London Chess Club, Wardrobe Court, London EC, on 18 March 1933. All game scores from this match are available.

1932«     1933 Varsity Chess Match     »1934
Bd Oxford University 1933 Cambridge University
1w * [Alfred] Rupert [Neale] Cross (Worcester) 1-0 Wallace Daykin Ellison (Christ's)
2b John Montgomerie (Corpus Christi) ½-½ James Marston Craddock (Magdalene)
3w James Macrae Aitken (Balliol) ½-½ Ian Murray Ainslie (St Catharine's)
4b Nicholas Anthony Perkins (St John's) 1-0 Kenneth Beaumont (St John's)
5w Graham Powell Britton (Jesus) 1-0 Albert Frederick Devonshire (Trinity Hall)
6b Stephen Hubert Llewellyn-Smith (New) 1-0 Eric Leslie Leese (King's)
7w Joseph Eric Smith (Queen's) 0-1 Leonard Arculus (Trinity)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; BCM, April 1933, p158; The Times, 20 March 1933 (including all game scores); BCM, March 1933, p126

Match notes

* = Oxford club president. Charles Alfred Coulson (Trinity) was non-playing Cambridge president (ineligible as a fifth-year man).
The Gaige booklet gives the Cambridge board one player's middle name as 'Drykin' but in fact it is 'Daykin'.


"Oxford and Cambridge were in London last month for their usual annual chess engagements. Cambridge were not "down" until March 16, so that their undergraduate members of the joint teams were not available for the earlier fixtures; but among the seniors they were strongly represented.

"The opening match was against London University played at Tavistock Square on Saturday afternoon, March 11, when the Combined Universities won by 7-3.

"On Monday evening, March 13 [1933], the opposition was provided by the Insurance C.C., the Combined Universities winning a narrow victory by 7½-6½. An interesting game was that between L. A. Durham and Aleister Crowley, who was Cambridge president in 1897, but has been little seen in London chess for many years until recently. The Insurance player won.

"On Tuesday evening [14 March 1933] the Hampstead C.C. were the hosts, at Stanfield House. Hampstead were weakened on the top boards by the failure of A. T. Stow and W. H. Watts to arrive in time to play, and in consequence were beaten high up, though holding their own fairly well lower down. J. du Mont won for them at No. 1, defeating Rupert Cross; but J. M. Hartnett, J. Montgomerie, J. M. Craddock, and P. W. Sergeant scored for the Universities on the next 4 boards, against R. C. Griffith, A. J. Field, E. M. Jellie, and T. I. Casswell respectively. The total result was: Combined Universities 9½; Hampstead 5½.

"The most important match previous to the Inter-University contest itself was on Wednesday evening [15 March 1933], against the City of London C.C. The Combined Universities, playing 9 seniors in a team of 17, were very strong; and, as the City were weakened by the fact of there being a League match between Brixton and the Stock Exchange the same night, it was expected that Oxford and Cambridge might on this occasion score one of their rare victories against the City.

"They did, in fact, come near doing so, for at adjudication time they were leading by 2 points. The three unfinished games, however, were all somewhat in the City's favour. Two of these were awarded to the City, and the third (on Board 4) was given as a draw, making the result of the match, like last year's, a tie.

"On Thursday [16 March 1933] the Universities split forces, Oxford opposing the Lud-Eagle C.C. in a 5-board consultation match, while Cambridge, with their present players now all down at the end of term, met the Athenaeum Club. " Only three of the consultation games were finished, Oxford drawing one and losing the other two. The match was followed by a supper, given by E. R. Turner. Cambridge, against the Athenaeum, won by 5-2.

"On Friday [17 march 1933] the Universities combined again to meet the West London C.C., the match being played at the St. Bride Institute. West London, as so often of late, were hard put to it to raise a full team. Their champion, W. H. Regan, was unable to turn out for them. In his absence P. W. Sergeant, playing this time against the Universities, took top board, and opposed Rupert Cross. This was a case of an old Oxford president against the present office-holder; and the junior won very prettily, Sergeant resigning on the 18th move. W. Winter drew with F. J. Camm on Board 2, as did R. L. Mitchell with G. S. Fisher on the next board. J. Montgomerie lost to H. J. Myers at 4, but J. M. Aitken made up for this at 5 by beating A. G. Kershaw. The complete result was a win for the Combined Universities by 10-6.

"The Inter-University match itself was played at the City of London Chess Club on the afternoon of Saturday, March 18 [1933]. This was the 57th match of the series, which was instituted in 1873 and has been played without a break, except for the War, for 60 years. Up to now Cambridge had won 26 matches to Oxford's 24, while on 6 occasions there had been a tie. As Cambridge had an entirely new team, their president, C. A. Coulson (Trinity) being ineligible to play, as a fifth-year man, it was expected that Oxford, with four old choices, would avenge last year's defeat. And so it turned out. The inexperience of the Light Blues, in a match which is always trying for chess-nerves, told heavily against them. On the top board Rupert Cross (who, by the way, is taking his final Schools in this, his third year) outclassed W. D. Ellison, won two Pawns against him, and forced his resignation in 36 moves.

"The first game finished, however, was on Board 2, where J. Montgomerie and J. M. Craddock (thrice winner of the boys' championship at Hastings) played a correct and somewhat featureless draw in 24 moves. This was the only result before the tea-interval. The next was on Board 6, where the Oxford secretary, S. H. Llewellyn Smith, found E. L. Leese accommodating enough to give him first a Pawn and then the Exchange. Another Oxford victory followed on Board 4, N. A. Perkins, an experienced young player, conducting a Sicilian very skilfully against K. Beaumont and winning in 40 moves. Then came Cross's success, which made Oxford's score 3½, so that they must at least draw the match.

"As a matter of fact there was not the slightest likelihood of a draw; for the fifth-board game was running in Oxford's favour, and ultimately went to G. P. Britton. As this was much the most interesting encounter of the seven, we give the score below.

"Oxford had now won. The only question that remained was how large the margin would be. There was nothing left for adjudication, for L. Arculus "saved the face" of Cambridge by winning an ending, in spite of the handicap of Bishops of opposite colours, against J. E. Smith, while J. M. Aitken and the Cambridge secretary, I. M. Ainslie, finished at last in a draw. The final result, therefore, was a victory for Oxford by 3 points.

"The hospitality of the City of London C.C. was, as usual, much appreciated, and both presidents expressed their thanks to the hon. secretary, J. H. Blake. Sir George Thomas was present as umpire, but his services were not necessary, as there were no adjudications. The number of visitors to the match was smaller than is generally the case, probably because of a fine afternoon for the Inter-University sports - which also yielded Oxford a handsome victory. Perhaps we shall hear now in the Press of an Oxford renaissance! The other note has been too much, and unjustifiably, sounded in Fleet Street."

[BCM, March 1933, p126]
University Chess.—The Oxford University Chess Club is to-day at its normal numerical strength of about 30; though when the club was founded by the Rev. C. E. Ranken and others in April, 1869, no less than 103 names were, according to the old records, entered upon the first list of members! The officers are Rupert Cross (president), S. H. Llewellyn Smith (hon. secretary), and J. M. Aitkin [sic] (hon. treasurer). The president is engaged in reading for his final History Schools, which has somewhat interfered with his chess. But his play in the first match of the term, of which we gave a report last month, was a fine example of end-game chess.

The Cambridge University Chess Club, which has about the same numerical strength as Oxford, though its figures too were formerly much higher, has as officers C. A. Coulson (president), I. M. Ainslie (hon. secretary), A. F. Devenshire [sic] (asst. hon. secretary), and W. D. Ellison (asst. hon. treasurer—there being a permanent treasurer.) The club paid a visit to London on Saturday, February 11, meeting the Birmingham team at the rooms of the City of London Chess Club. Twelve a-side played, Peter Reed [Reid], who is no longer in residence at Cambridge, completing the Cambridge team and scoring a very quick victory for it on the last board. Chiefly through the lower boards, Birmingham obtained a strong lead, the score standing at one time at 5-1 in their favour. In the end, however, Cambridge pulled up, a good win for J. M. Craddock over H. E. Price at the top helping to put them only 2 points behind at the finish. [individual match scores given]

Ian Murray Ainslie in play during the Varsity Match
From the Sunday Mirror, 19 March 1933

Oxford Past vs Cambridge Past, 17 December 1932 at City of London CC

Bd Oxford University Past 1932 Cambridge University Past
1w Theodore Henry Tylor (Balliol) ½-½ William Winter (Clare)
2b Edward Mackenzie Jackson (New) 1-0 Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander (King's)
3w John Harold Morrison (Wadham) 0-1 John Matthias Bee (St Catharine's)
4b George Shorrock Ashcombe Wheatcroft (New) 1-0 (Philip) Stuart Milner-Barry (Trinity)
5w Richard Hilary Newman (Worcester) 1-0 George Ernest Smith (St John's)
6b Philip Walsingham Sergeant (Trinity) 1-0 Eric Augustus Coad-Pryor (Trinity)
7w Harold Talbot Reeve (Oriel) 0-1 Roland Hartnett (Downing)
8b Rev Ernest Walter Poynton (Exeter) ½-½ Leonard Illingworth (Trinity)
9w Charles Wreford-Brown (Oriel) 0-1 Lachlan McLean (King's)
10b Rev Arthur Eric Smith (St Edmund Hall) 0-1 Peter Reid (St Catharine's)
11w William Ernest Baker Pryer (Pembroke) ½-½ Paul Ian Wyndham (Trinity)
12b Alan Hamilton Crothers (Queen's) 0-1 Ronald Langley Mitchell (Trinity)
13w Emanuel Wax (New) 0-1 John Edward Pepper (Trinity)
14b Joseph Francis Palmer Deller (Lincoln) 1-0 Coventry Ernest Woodhouse (Pembroke)

BCM, Jan 1933, p19: "At the City of London Chess Club on the afternoon of December 17 [1932] this annual fixture brought two strong teams into opposition - the strongest, indeed, that have so far figured in the match. The original arrangement was for 12 a-side, but at Oxford's request the number was increased to 14 a-side. As it turned out, the two bottom boards scored 1-1, so not affecting the result. At half-time Oxford led by 4½-2½. Cambridge, however, had the advantage on several boards, and it soon became evident that the final figures would be close. After the tea-interval Cambridge drew level; but C. H. O'D. Alexander, on the second board, made a curious blunder and lost to E. M. Jackson, putting Oxford ahead again. On the three boards where play continued to the end Cambridge were a Pawn to the good in each case. Finally it became evident that the result would hinge on the game between J. H. Morrison and J. M. Bee. Morrison had the better of the opening; but Bee (who has a very fine record in this event) gradually got the upper hand, and in spite of all his opponent's ingenuity forced an isolated passed Pawn down to the 6th square. Morrison resigned without waiting for adjudication. Subsequently C. Wreford Brown pointed out a draw by perpetual check, varied by pinning moves. It is only fair, however, to state that Bee on more than one occasion could have claimed on the time-limit - 24 moves in the first hour and 6 in each succeeding quarter. The final score, therefore, of 7½-6½ in favour of Cambridge was a fair result of the match.

"In the regrettable absence, through illness, of J. H. Blake, hon. secretary of the City of London C.C., and the inability of Sir George Thomas to be present, adjudication on the two unfinished games was made by the top-board players of the two teams.

"The following is believed to be a complete record of these [Oxford Past v Cambridge Past] encounters in the past, except for one earlier match which we have not traced, said to have been won by Cambridge:-

1889 Oxford 4 Cambridge 6
1890 Oxford 2½ Cambridge 7½
1892 Oxford 4½ Cambridge 2½
1922 Oxford 6½ Cambridge 2½
1923 Oxford 3 Cambridge 9
1924 Oxford 4½ Cambridge 6½
1925 Oxford 4 Cambridge 8
1926 (Mar) Oxford 6½ Cambridge 8½
1926 (Dec) Oxford 4½ Cambridge 9½
1927 Oxford 3 Cambridge 7
1928 Oxford 8½ Cambridge 3½
1929 Oxford 5½ Cambridge 10½
1930 Oxford 3½ Cambridge 9½
1931 Oxford 7½ Cambridge 4½

N.b. In fact, there are two missing matches in this sequence: 1891, won 4-2 by Oxford, and 1894, won 7-6 by Cambridge.

File updated

Date Notes
21 December 2021 Original upload.
All material © 2021 John Saunders