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John Saunders


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Event: 68th Varsity Match • Venue: West London CC • Date: 25 March 1950
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1949 • Forward to 1951 • last edited: Monday March 18, 2024 11:00 AM

The 68th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at West London Chess Club on 25 March 1950. Three game scores from this match are available (boards 1, 2 - incomplete - and 4).

1949«     1950 Varsity Chess Match     »1951
Bd Oxford University 1950 Cambridge University Opening, No. of Moves
1b Leonard William Barden (Balliol) 0-1 Oliver Penrose (King's) Ruy Lopez
2w Alan Fraser Truscott (Magdalen) 0-1 Ernst Robert Reifenberg (Trinity) King's Gambit
3b John Edward Pike (Exeter) ½-½ Basil Tomlinson (Queens') English
4w André Raymond Rivier (St Peter's Hall) 0-1 Denis Victor Mardle (Christ's) Dutch
5b David John Youston (Hertford) 1-0 John Frederick Barrett (Pembroke) Ruy Lopez
6w John Bradbury Sykes (Balliol) 1-0 George Spencer Brown (Trinity) Ruy Lopez
7b Sidney Roy Hossell (St Catherine's) 0-1 John Rycroft Coward (Caius) French

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; The Times, 27 March 1950; BCM, May 1950, p150.


Venue: West London CC, 23 Stratford Road, W8.

[The Times, 27 March 1950, p8] "UNIVERSITY CHESS - CAMBRIDGE VICTORY AFTER HARD STRUGGLE - FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT - Cambridge and Oxford Universities played their annual chess match on Saturday morning and afternoon at the West London Chess Club. There were few spectators since both university secretaries, with becoming modesty, had failed to make public the time, date, and place of the match. Anyway, some excellent chess was played and the standard seemed higher than last year. After a hard struggle Cambridge took revenge for their overwhelming 1—6 defeat in the previous encounter by scoring the ample victory of 4½—2½. At one time it looked as though Cambridge might win by an even greater margin, since their fifth board, Barrett, was a piece to the good. However, as compensation for the lost piece the Oxford player had some menacing passed pawns, and in an endeavour to deal with these Barrett consumed too much time, losing the game by exceeding the time-limit. The best game of the match, and indeed the best game I remember seeing in this series for some years, was that played on the top board between two of the better known of our young strong players. Here Barden tried an early advance of his Queen side pawns in defence of a Ruy Lopez, but only succeeded in weakening his own Queen wing. From then on Penrose gave him no chance of recovery. He fastened down on this weakness and, at the correct moment, transferred his attack to the other side to win by a neat mating combination. Similarly the fate of the game on the next board was decided in the opening. Here Truscott got into serious trouble through loose play, lost the exchange, and might well have lost much earlier had not his opponent chosen to fianchetto his rook, a manoeuvre which most players usually reserve for the bishop. Early exchanges on board three left the Cambridge player in full command of the Q. file, and eventually gave him a pawn, but this proved insufficient to win. On the next board Mardle completely outplayed Rivier, won a couple of pawns, and scored an early and good win. On board five the Cambridge player was a victim of time trouble. Oxford’s other victory was on board six, where Sykes won a pawn and held on to this to secure a win ending. On the bottom board the Oxford player fell into a not very deep trap that cost him a piece. Cambridge had white on the odd-numbered boards, and the detailed results were [as above]."

[BCM, May 1950, p150 by Harry Golombek] "UNIVERSITY CHESS WEEK The annual visit of the Oxford and Cambridge University chess teams to London, culminating in their own match on Saturday, took place with almost furtive secrecy from March 20th to 25th. What useful purpose is served by this lack of publicity it is hard to conceive. It is true that by failing to inform the unfortunate chess reporters of the date or place of the final match the university secretaries may have thought they were setting the press a pretty detective problem and so sharpening their inquisitive instincts. But there are already a sufficient number of hindrances in our way as regards reporting chess events in the daily press without having the task made more difficult by those who should facilitate matters.

"As it was, I managed to discover the date and place (but not the time - for this I was given three alternative hours, none of them right) some two days before the match. None of my colleagues were so fortunate; though the Manchester Guardian chess correspondent was informed by phone by a friendly onlooker during the course of the match. Only three causes can be responsible for this obdurate silence by the secretaries, and these are increasingly uncomplimentary, viz. ignorance, stupidity and laziness. I do hope that in future the secretaries will announce the dates and places of such matches well in advance. It is to them that the above passage is addressed and the ordinary reader can and probably will skip what I have just written.

"During the week's play it became evident that the standard of university chess was higher than it had been for some years; strong teams were encountered and, in some cases, beaten, in others given a very hard fight. In especial the Oxford top board, Barden, distinguished himself by scoring 4½ points out of 5.

"On Monday the Combined Universities met and heavily defeated the Metropolitan club by 11-4, Barden beating D. Miller on top board. The next day they were beaten by the strong Hampstead team by 11½-7½. On Board 1 O. Penrose lost to A. W. Bowen, Barden taking a fraternal revenge by winning against J. Penrose on Board 2. On Wednesday the West London club was beaten by 11½-8½, a past member, C. H. O'D. Alexander, beating F. J. Camm on top board. The Insurance club won against them on Thursday by 11½-8½, another past member, Dr. J. M. Aitken, drawing with W. Veitch on the first board. On Friday a narrow victory was scored over the Civil Service by 9-8; here Barden beat the ex-British champion, Broadbent.

"The University match itself was played on Saturday morning and afternoon at the West London Chess Club. On the whole the games were of high quality; but there was little doubt which was the better side and at one moment it looked as though Cambridge were going to win by an even bigger score. This was a striking reversal of last year's result when Oxford won by 6-1.

"The outstanding game was that played on the top board. This, one of the best I remember seeing in such a contest, was both worthy of the occasion and truly representative of the powers of two of our leading younger players. I give the score below and readers will agree with me, on playing it over, that it reflects great credit on the winner, whilst the loser made a brave attempt to recover from his bad opening.

[Game No. 10,508. -White: O. Penrose. Black: L. W. Barden. Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defence]

"On Board 2 Truscott went badly astray with his King's Gambit, as follows

[Truscott v Reifenberg: score given]

"The win of the exchange is decisive, though it is true that against a somewhat inexact handling of this advantage White managed to struggle on to move 60 when the game was adjudicated in Black's favour.

"On Board 3 White won a pawn after many exchanges but the resulting Queen and pawn ending proved impossible to win. Board 4 was another fine game by a Cambridge player. Mardle is a rapidly improving player with a good style as the following game shows [score given]

"On the next board Barrett and Youston had a hard and complicated struggle that ended in the Cambridge player exceeding the time limit. On Board 6 Sykes won a pawn and obtained a won ending, which, with more discretion than valour, he carefully refrained from winning, leaving this not very difficult task to the adjudicator.

"A trap cost the Oxford bottom board a whole piece after which his game was past saving. Cambridge had White on the odd-numbered boards... H. G."

Oxford Past v Cambridge Past, 25 March 1950, St Bride's, London

Bd Oxford University Past 1950 Cambridge University Past
1b Alfred William Bowen (Oriel) 1-0 William Winter (Clare)
2w Dr James Macrae Aitken (Balliol) ½-½ C Hugh O'D Alexander (King's)
3b Richard Hilary Newman (Worcester) 0-1 P Stuart Milner-Barry (Trinity)
4w John Warcup Cornforth (St Catherine's) 1-0 John Matthias Bee (St Catharine's)
5b Nicholas Anthony Perkins (St John's) 0-1 Roland Hartnett (Downing)
6w William Ernest Baker Pryer (Pembroke) ½-½ Eugene Ernest Colman (Trinity)
7b Dermot Michael Macgregor Morrah (New) 0-1 John David Solomon (Downing)
8w John Montgomerie (Corpus Christi) 1-0 Leonard Illingworth (Trinity)
9b Thomas Ivor Casswell (Pembroke) ½-½ John Dean (St Catharine's)
10w Michael James Albery (Exeter) ½-½ John Robert Gilbert (St Catharine's)
11b Sir John Walton (Brasenose) 0-1 Eric Augustus Coad-Pryor (Trinity)
12w Napier Baliol-Scott (Christ Church) ½-½ John Brown (Sidney Sussex)

The Times, 27 March 1950, p8: "UNIVERSITY PAST - On the same day [as the Varsity Match] teams representing Oxford University Past and Cambridge University Past played their annual match at St. Bride’s Institute in London and Cambridge scored a narrow victory by 6½ to 5½."

File Updated

Date Notes
2020 First uploaded
23 June 2022 Added the game Milner-Barry 1-0 R.Newman from the Oxford Past v Cambridge Past match, which is well worth playing through.



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