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John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: 28th Varsity Match • Venue: British Chess Club, 37 King Street, London • Date: Friday 30 March 1900
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1899 • Forward to 1901 • last edited: Friday December 22, 2023 10:53 PM

The 28th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London, on Friday 30 March 1900.

1899«     1900 Varsity Chess Match     »1901
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1w Frederick Soddy (Merton) 0-1 Creassey Edward Cecil Tattersall (Trinity)
2b Arthur Hereford Wykeham George (New) 0-1 Harold Goodlake Softlaw (Trinity Hall)
3w Gerald Edward Harold Ellis (Lincoln) 0-1 Clement Christopher Wiles (St John's)
4b Harold Hilton (Magdalen) 1-0 Eugene Ernest Colman (Trinity)
5w Frederick Augustus Babcock (Wadham) 1-0 (Canon) Ernest William Burnell (Caius)
6b Henry Bartle Compton Arthur (New) 0-1 Joseph Edmund Wright (Trinity)
7w Frederick Waterfield (Christ Church) 0-1 William Scott Ostle (Jesus)

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); Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. All seven games are available in the download.


(1) PW Sergeant gives "H Wilton" and "G Waterfield"
(2) Summary of rules given in BCM: 7 men who must be of not more than 5 years from matriculation and bona fide in residence. Can play no more than 5 times. CU get half blues. Time limit 20/hr.


Saturday 24 March - Combined Universities 4½, Hastings 4½ (played in Hastings)
Monday 26 March - Combined Universities 2, Metropolitan 15 (played in London)
Tuesday 27 March - Combined Universities 7½, British Chess Club 9½
Wednesday 28 March - Combined Universities 3½, City of London 13½

BCM, 1900, p144

Boat-race Chess.—Boat race week is upon us again, but it comes so late in the month that we can only chronicle the results now, leaving any detailed account for next month.

On the 26th, the combined Universities played the Metropolitan, with the following result: Metropolitan 15, United Universities 2. On the 27th, the Universities played the British Chess Club, the result being a win for the British C.C. by 9½ to 7½. On the 28th, the United Universities played their annual match against a mixed team of the City of London Chess Club, the result being City of London C.C. 13½, United Universities 3½.

The great match of the week. Oxford v. Cambridge, was played at the British Chess Club, on Friday, March 30th, and resulted in the victory of Cambridge by 5 games to 2. Play was started at twelve o’clock, Oxford having the move on the odd-numbered boards. At the adjournment (at 2 p m.) matters were fairly equal, but after the resumption the Cantabs forged ahead and won easily. At 7-30 p.m. the teams dined with the members of the British Chess Club, Sir George Newnes in the chair.

BCM, 1900, p196

Match : Oxford v. Cambridge.—The 28th annual match between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, was played at the British Chess Club, and resulted as follows:— [scores]

The scores now stand—Cambridge 18 matches won, with a total score of 157½ points. Oxford 9 matches won, with a total of 130½ points; the remaining match was drawn—4 points each.

As some of our readers may be interested in the conditions under which this classical annual encounter is played, we give the following summary:—

1st, the match is played by 7 men from each ’Varsity, who must be of not more than five years from matriculation and bona-fide in residence (thus a man cannot play in more than 5 matches at most).
2nd.—The teams are arranged in order of merit, and one game only is played at each board.
3rd.—The choice of move is decided each year by lot.
4th.—Time-limit is fixed at 20 moves per hour, duration of play generally about five hours, and unfinished games are adjudicated.

Minor points are that the match is generally played at the British C.C., and on the day before the Boat-race is contested.
The foregoing rules are not in writing, for in chess as in all other Inter ’Varsity matches there is no need for rigid and exhaustive rules, as any small point of difference is invariably settled amicably between the two presidents.

There are a few points on which the Oxford U.C.C. and the Cambridge U.C.C. differ in constitution. In Oxford, for example, the club president is usually one of the strongest players, generally the absolute strongest, and he holds the office as long as he is in residence. He chooses the team, and plays first board. The Cambridge president is one of the strongest players (but not necessarily the absolute strongest), but he retires after one year’s service and consequently does not always play first board. The team is selected by the committee. The Cambridge players have the privilege of wearing the ’Varsity colours, light blue and white, and bear the title "half blues."

The Field, 7 April 1900 (Lepold Hoffer)


All through the matches between tbe Universities, it will be seen from the table below, the victories hae run in breaks of twos
or threes on the Oxford and in larger breaks on the Cambridge side. At the present Cambridge have the run, but the tide may turn judging from the quality of the teams.

Oxford had two new men on the last boards, and they only lost their games under the pressure of the time limit, owing to inexperience in economising their time in the opening of the game. The three new Cambridge men are not so good as McLean, Fotheringham and Makower, whom they replaced on this occasion. Therefore, if Oxford continue training, they have fair chanoes of reversing results next year, and as the love of the game seems to be prevalent amongst them—for no sooner was the match concluded than they paired off for "skittles" games—they will continue practising and improving.

At 7.30 the teams were the guests of the members of the British Chess Club at the annual dinner, which is purposely fixed for the day of the match. Sir George Newnes was in the chair, and amongst the guests were Mr Seton-Karr, M.P., and Mr [John] Henniker Heaton1, M.P. The loyal toasts, proposed by the chair, were heartily received, and no less so "The Imperial Forces" (proposed by the chairman), coupled with the name of Mr [Henry] Seton-Karr, M.P, the organiser of a corps of sharpshooters for South Africa. Mr Seton-Karr alluded to the patriotic sentiments expressed by the chairman and re-echoed by the company, remarking incidentally that less patriotic sentiments would not be tolerated anywhere in the United Kingdom except in the House of Commons. Mr W. Ward-Higgs2 was intrusted with "the Houses of Parliament," to which Mr Henniker Heaton replied.
1 John Henniker Heaton, 1st Baronet, 1848-1914. His grand-daughter Mary Araluen Elizabeth Anne Henniker Heaton (1904-72) was a keen chess player who took part in British Women's Championships.
William Ward-Higgs (3 January 1866 - 21 June 1936) was a lawyer and songwriter who wrote "Sussex by the Sea," the unofficial anthem of that county, a regimental march of the Royal Sussex Regiment and the official song of Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. The Counties & District Correspondence Championship trophy is known as the Ward-Higgs Trophy. He was a keen chess player and member of the RAC chess circle.

The toast of the evening, "the Universities," was proposed by Mr [John] Alderson Foote, Q.C. (Recorder of Exeter). Mr Foot [sic] related experiences from his University chess career but, as he said that the duty of his profession is to elicit the truth, the belief was prevalent that the reminiscences could hardly have stood the test of an able cross-examiner, such as the speaker himself. The captains responded.

Mr [Llewellyn] Atherley Jones, Q.C., M.P., in proposing "The Visitors," was in a humorous vein, indulging in some sharply-pointed allusions to the previous speakers and to Mr Frank Newbolt in particular, whose name, whose name was coupled with the toast. The speaker remarked that this gentleman no doubt did not join the British Chess Clnb in order to have an opportunity of replying to this particular toast—a remark which did not remain unchallenged by Mr Newbolt, who gave back "as well as he received." Mr Soddy proposed the chairman, and the latter's reply concluded a pleasant toast. A smoking concert, the best ever held at the club, followed the dinner.

Morning Post, 31 March 1900 [from a poor scan]

The annual chess match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played at thc British Chess Club yesterday and ended in a somewhat easy victory for Cambridge, a result that had been generally anticipated from the superior form shown by that University in the trial matches. Play began at twelve o clock, and up to the luncheon interval no particular advantage was established either way, the opening moves having been made with much caution on both sides. After lunch, however, it soon became evident that the contest was in favour ot Cambridge.

Mr. Soddy, the Oxford captain, having played the Queen's Gambit, got into difficulties chiefly through manoevring his King's Knight to the Queen's side of the board and, as will be seen on examination of the moves which are given below, his opponent, Mr. Tattersall, had not much difficulty in obtaining a winning position. in fact, he might have won still more quickly if he had played 21 Kt—Kt5 [21...Ng4] instead of 21 R-K1 [21...Re8].

This was the first game concluded and it was quickly followed by another Cambridge victory in consequence of Mr. Ostle's counterattack against the Scotch Gambit offered by Mr. Waterfield proving [illegible] to be resisted.

Only on two of the seven boards were the Oxonians able to obtain a decisive advantage. Nr. Hilton having successfully adopted the Greco counter gambit against Mr. Colman, while Mr. Babcock converted the [illegible] looking Petroff opening that he contested against Mr. Burnell into a victory.

On the other boards the Cambridge men [illegible] with confidence and skill had all the best of [illegible]. Mr. Softlaw effected a strong Ruy Lopez attack against Mr. George, and exchanged Queens with an an advantage of two Pawns, which subiced for his purpose.

Mr. Wiles, having defended himself against Mr. Ellis, proceeded to make a telling and successful attack on the King’s side; and the last game concluded, [illegible] , played by Mr. Arthur against Mr. Wright, [illegible] struggle, to a victory for the last-named by virtue of the odd Pawn.

File updated

Date Notes
17 April 2022 Original upload. Biographical details and match reports to be added later.
7 March 2023 The match was played on Friday 30 March 1900, not 28 March as previously given. My thanks to Jason Radley for spotting the error.
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