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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: Sunday July 11, 2021 1:42 PM

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).

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 oy 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."

Biographical Information

John Edward Pike (26 September 1931, London - 23 April 2011 Shorewood, Michigan, USA) Medical doctor. "[Worked for the] Upjohn Company where he significantly contributed in the research of prostaglandins. He received his PhD. in chemistry from Exeter College at Oxford University. He achieved a master's level in chess ranking and won the 1976 American Open Chess Championship." (obituary notice) According to other sources (in particular this one) he was co-winner of the 1976 US Open with Walter Browne and Yasser Seirawan. Leonard Barden comments: "John Pike's victory with Browne and Seirawan was I think the American Open not the US Open. But the important point for you is that the three of them appeared on the front cover of Chess Review or possibly Chess Life or Chess Life & Review in I think the December 1976 issue*. They were standing together on a balcony and I remember my first thought was 'what's John Pike doing there with these two big names? The biog you link to says also that Pike shared a flat with Barden and Yanofsky. That is not quite correct. The address at 8 Abbey Road very near to Oxford station was discovered by Bill Bowen [Alfred William Bowen (1918-2021)] in 1938. Bowen played in the British Championship at Buxton 1950 and also at Felixstowe 1949." * I've not been able to locate that magazine cover - can someone help? JS

André Raymond Rivier (1914-1973) - Swiss classicist. Academic, professor at University of Lausanne, 1957-73. German Wikipedia. Leonard Barden comments: "... the son of the Swiss master Rivier who played inter alia at the elite tournament of Berne 1932." (William Jules Rivier)

Ernst Robert Reifenberg (28 Oct 1928, Berlin - 23 June 1964, Dolomites). [not to be confused with Leonard Richenberg/Reichenberg] Preferred to be called Peter. "He had from a very early age shown a remarkable talent for mathematics and chess—there is a story of him beating a surprised adult at chess on his way to Palestine at the age of five." (JC Shepherdson, Journal of the London Mathematical Society, 40 (1965) pps 370-377) Author of works on mathematics found on the web. German Wikipedia. Died as the result of a rock fall while rock-climbing in the Dolomites in 1964. left Germany for Czechoslovakia in 1933, then moved to Palestine later the same year, Tel Aviv 1934, Berlin in 1937, then UK from August 1938. Attended private school in London, then Bembridge School, Isle of Wight. Major scholarship in mathematics to Trinity, Cambridge, 1946. Prize Fellowship at Trinity in 1951. In 1952 he went to the University of California at Berkeley as a Commonwealth Fellow and in 1954, in the last year of his Trinity Fellowship, came to the University of Bristol as a lecturer. He spent the academic year 1959—1960 on leave of absence at Oregon State Univorsity. He was appointed Reader in Mathematics in the University of Bristol in 1961; he spent the summer of 1963 as a visitor at Brown University. "... main interests were in chess, bridge, mountaineering and motoring. He played chess for Cambridge against Oxford, but he began to feel that chess took too much of his time, and although he continued to play the occasional game for County teams his main game in recent years was bridge, which he played regularly and well. Mountaineering was his chief pleasure." (same source as above)

David John Youston (1 March 1931 - 29 March 2008) [CHESS, Sept 2008, p39] David Youston and The Aston Defence - David Youston was born in Birmingham on March 1st 1931. His father had used some of his demobilisation money after the First World War to buy a chess set and board. He became a member of the Kynoch Chess Club (ICI) and David followed in his footsteps joining the club as a teenager. He also became a subscriber to CHESS and knew BH Wood who founded the magazine and lived in nearby Sutton Coldfield. David played on his School team and for the County. He went up to Oxford in 1949 to study Mathematics at Hertford College and played for the University and in matches in the UK and Europe. Among his team mates were Leonard Barden, chess columnist for The Guardian, and the late Alan Truscott who later became a bridge expert for the New York Times. David won the Oxford University Chess Championship playing against D. Abe Yanofsky, a Rhodes Scholar from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who became a lawyer and was the first Canadian Grandmaster. David also won the City of Oxford Championship in a game played with living chess pieces on the lawn of Balliol College against the city champion Andrew Wyeth on June 7th 1952. While doing his National Service with the Royal Signals in Berlin he played regularly, and was invited to play with a German team. After his National Service he worked as a Systems Analyst and in Operations Research in the UK and Canada where he and his wife Evelyn emigrated to Toronto in 1963. David continued to read CHESS with avid interest and after retirement he often sent comments and viewpoints to the Editor. In August 2007 he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and despite successful treatment on a clinical trial the Leukaemia returned. He died a very peaceful death on March 29th 2008. His two great enthusiasms were Chess and Music. We send our condolences and best wishes to Evelyn and all the Youston family. David was one of our longest running subscribers and a regular and witty correspondent. We think he would approve of the publication of the following original articles in his memory. They relate to a new opening variation he had discovered in the 1950s which he named after the area of Birmingham where he lived. He was under no illusions that his line might one day be busted by either computers or the younger generation - but he just wanted readers to analyse it and give him their conclusions. In celebration of 60 years as a CHESS magazine reader. Anyway, sound or unsound, he felt the Aston [1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Bc4 Nf6 5 0-0 Nxe4 6 Re1 f5] gave Black real winning chances!

(Sidney) Roy Hossell (1921-1960) [BCM, Feb, 1961, p43] obit: "... fine player, brilliant organiser, and a most endearing personality, died after a lingering illness at the age of 38. At Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield, Hossell had shown outstanding academic promise, and was Head Boy in his last term. He was already playing for the Warwickshire County Chess Team. There followed seven years of war-time service in the RAF, spent mainly in India, where he left behind him a trail of newly-founded chess clubs. On release he went to Oxford, played regularly on high boards for the university, and in his econd year became the club secretary, when his driving force and organizing powers came into full play. After Oxford he taught for a time at a Coventry grammar school. Here in Coventry his overflowing chess energies were devoted to work amongst juniors, to initiating a nation-wide Works Teams' Championship, and to membership of the B.C.F. Development Committee. In 1954, he left Coventry to take up a senior position at Taunton Technical College. Alas, he was soon stricken by a most virulent form of poliomyelitis. Months of intense suffering followed, but by great courage and never-failing hope he recovered most of his faculties and reached the stage of making a few halting steps. But life was still a torment, and a final relapse following a severe attack of bronchitis proved too much. During this period of suffering he played successfully on a high board for Somerset, winning four and drawing three without a loss. Correspondence chess also brought him gratifying success. In addition, he was the moving spirit behind the chess section of the Infantile Paralysis Fellowship. But his finest performance was in just failing to beat Haygarth in the penultimate round of the B.C.F. Major Open Tournament at Nottingham, 1954, which decided which of the two was to play in the Championship the following year. But the abiding memory is that of his great courage and enduring faith, facing adversity with an inspiring will to win through. Through it all he had the undying devotion of his wife and four young children. To them, on behalf of all our readers, we extend our deep-felt sympathy. We are grateful to [Yvon] Peter [A G] Keffler, W. H. Cozens, and D. H. Butler for their appreciatory notices which have helped us to give the above brief picture of Roy Hossell. All speak of his sterling qualities and abilities. We end with a short win of his: chess was his great diversion and solace in health and in sickness."

John Frederick Barrett - (dates? b 1928? - alive?). Played in the 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1954 matches. Went to Taunton's Grammar School, Southampton. Grade of 3a (=209-216) in the 1954 BCF Grading List. Worked on non-linear control systems in Engineering Dept at Cambridge (later at Southampton University). Leonard Barden comments: "Cambridge 1950, later Oxford, was fourth in the 1946 British Boys Championship behind John Fuller, Gordon Crown and myself." 1946 British Boys' Championship Final (Hastings, 12-17 April): 1 John A Fuller (Lenton, SCCU nominee) 5/5; 2 Gordon T Crown (Holt High School, Liverpool) 3½; 3 Leonard W Barden (Whitgift School) 3 (drew with Crown and Barrett); 4 John F Barrett (Taunton's School, Southampton) 2½; 5 E Houghton (Shipley) 1; 6 E A Goodman (Worcester RGS) 0.

[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. The individual results, Oxford names first, were: —

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

Thomas Ivor Casswell (1902-1989). Did not play in a Varsity chess match. Was a legal assistant in the Land Registry. Chessgames.com has a game played by him against RD Keene from the 1962 London League. Seems to have been an active correspondence player.

Sir John Charles Walton (b 14 March 1885, d 1957). Did not play in a Varsity chess match. K.C.I.E., cr. 1942, C.B., 1930, M.C.,educ. Tonbridge, Brasenose, 1st Greats, entered Admiralty, 1908. India Office, 1909. Secretary, Political dept, 1930. Asst. Under-Sec of State for India, 1936. Deputy Under-Sec of State for Burma, 1942. Retired, 1946. Military service with RA, 1916-18.

John David Solomon. Did not play in a Varsity match. Member of Hampstead CC and very active as a player with some extant games.. Born in 1906 and died in 1998. According to the 1939 census, he was resident in Hampstead and a music student / research geologist. Referred to in BCM (Jan 1943) as representing the Musicians' Union. Taught Geography at Wandsworth School. [Richard James commented at the Streatham & Brixton blog, 2015] "... played for Richmond. Rejoined Richmond & Twickenham CC briefly possibly late 70s/early 80s. Also a strong bridge player." In the 1954 BCF Grading List listed as affiliated to Battersea CC and graded 3b (201-208).

All material © 2019 John Saunders