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John Saunders


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Event: (unofficial) Varsity Match • Venue: St John's, Cambridge • Date: 16 March 1940 • last edited: Monday March 18, 2024 11:39 AM
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This unofficial Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St John's College, Cambridge on 16 March 1940. One game score from this match is available.

1939«     1940 (Unofficial) Varsity Chess Match     »1941 (Unofficial) 1946 (Official)
Bd Oxford University  1940 Cambridge University
1w Alfred William Bowen (Oriel) 1-0 Irving John Good (Jesus)
2b Clifford Leak (Corpus Christi) 1-0 Arthur Pollitt (Clare)
3w John Hull Dunkle (Hertford) 1-0 Kenneth Preston Charlesworth (Emmanuel)
4b Thomas Frank Brenchley (Merton) 0-1 Geoffrey Irving Rhodes (Selwyn)
5w Michael James Steuart Dewar (Balliol) 0-1 Louis Goodman (Corpus Christi)
6b Basil Thomas Wigoder (Oriel) ½-½ Basil Rose (Jesus)
7w default 0def1 Christopher Thurston Rivington (Trinity)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; BCM, May 1940, p161; The Times, 15 March 1940, p6; The Times, 26 March 1940, p6


[The Times, 15 March 1940] "CHESS - OXFORD TO PLAY AT CAMBRIDGE - FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT - An informal chess match has been arranged between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and will take place at Cambridge to-morrow. It will not rank in the series of inter-University matches.

"Most of the Cambridge University matches this term have been scratched because of the inability of the opposition to raise a team. A match, however, was played against Cambridge Town, and this was lost by six games to two."

[The Times, 26 March 1940, p6] "INFORMAL MATCH DRAWN - FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT - An informal chess match was played recently at St. John’s College, Cambridge, between Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The Oxford seventh board unfortunately did not arrive, and Cambridge thus won one game by default. In spite of this, however, Oxford managed to draw the match, each side scoring points.

"There was a very lively game on the top board between Bowen and Good. Bowen had the better of the opening, and in trying to escape from his difficulties Good lost a piece for a pawn. He built up a promising counter-attack, however, and to break it Bowen returned the piece. A series of complications ensued, in the course of which Good gave up his rook and minor piece, and Bowen once more returned the exchange. Finally Bowen emerged with queen and two extra pawns against two rooks, and by giving up his queen for the rooks at the right moment obtained a winning king and pawn ending. My impression is that Bowen, who is, of course, a first-class player, was winning comfortably all along, but it was good fun all the same. Dunkle broke through in the centre against Charlesworth, and soon afterwards obtained a winning attack; he won in good style by a temporary rook sacrifice.

"Rhodes had the better of the games [sic] all through against Brenchley; but the latter defended himself stoutly, and was still full of fight when he made an unfortunate blunder. There were some exciting complications between Dewar and Goodman, in the course of which Goodman won two pawns. Dewar obtained some attacking chances, but ran very short of time and lost more material. I think Goodman would have won in any case.

"The game on the sixth board was rather dull, and after a series of exchanges Rose, with rather the better end game, offered his opponent a draw."


"The match now depended on the game between the Cambridge president and Leak, Of Corpus. This was a hard-fought affair. In the eariy stages Pollitt established a knight at Q6, and Leak gave up the exchange, obtaining two pawns as compensation. Subsequently he recovered the exchange and reached an end game two pawns to the good but with bishops of opposite colours. Pollitt made a great struggle after this and appeared at one time actually to have winning chances, but finally, after some 80 moves and 7½ hours’ play, he had to admit defeat. An enjoyable match, with some lively games, thus ended in a draw."

[BCM, May 1940, p161] "No official match was held this year between Oxford and Cambridge Universities; instead an informal encounter took place on March 16th at St John's College, Cambridge. Oxford were unfortunate in losing on the last board by default but nevertheless managed to draw 3½-3½... There was a very lively and complicated game on the top board; Bowen was eventually left with a queen and two extra pawns against two rooks. He was able to exchange his queen for the rooks to bring about a won pawn ending. The game on the third board has a good finish."

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