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John Saunders


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Tournament: 136th Varsity Match • Venue: RAC Club, Pall Mall, London • Date: 3 March 2018
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John Saunders reports: The 136th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London on 3 March 2018. The match sponsors were the Royal Automobile Club. The chief match arbiter was David Sedgwick, with Matthew Carr arbiting and also operating the live boards. Live transmission.

2017«     2018 Varsity Chess Match     »2019
Bd Oxford University Rating Nat 5-3 Cambridge University Rating Nat
1w David Pires Tavares Martins (Worcester) 2395m POR 1-0 Conor Murphy (Christ's) 2312f IRL
2b Isaac Sanders (Christ Church) 2338f ENG 0-1 Rafe Martyn (Corpus Christi) 2242f ENG
3w Benjamin Foo Zhi Rong (Magdalen) 2254c SGP 0-1 Yita Choong (Hughes Hall) 2211f AUS
4b Lisa Schut (Kellogg) 2259wm NED ½-½ Adam Scibior (Trinity) 2229 POL
5w Gordon Scott (Merton) 2237 ENG ½-½ Gustavo Leon Cazares (Selwyn) 2059 MEX
6b Joris Gerlagh (University) 2217 NED 1-0 James Walsh (Clare, capt) 2065 ENG
7w Aleksandar Monev (Keble) 2224 BUL 1-0 James Cole (Downing) 1899 ENG
8b Jamie Horton (Christ Church) 2189 ENG 1-0 Anna York-Andersen (St John's) 1775 ENG
  Av. Rating = 2264.1     5-3 Av. Rating = 2099.0    

Oxford won the toss and took White on odds. The first game to finish was on board six where the grading difference of 325 points told on the Cambridge player. But at 4.30pm Cambridge hit back to give checkmate on board three. Five minutes later, Oxford regained the lead with a win on top board. Cambridge then levelled again by winning board two but this was followed by a loss on board eight, so the score was now 3-2 to Oxford.

Quite a long hiatus to 5.50pm and the sixth result - a win for Oxford on board six - increased their lead to 4-2 with a very good prospect of securing the half point they need to win the match from the two remaining games. 6.20pm and the Cambridge board five concedes the draw that the opposition needed to win the match. (The computer finds a win for him but many moves deep and very obscure so his decision was understandable.) At this point the Oxford board four sees no reason to play on any further and also agrees a draw. So Oxford won 5-3 - congratulations to them for narrowing the gap between the universities in terms of the overall match score, but also to Cambridge for doing better than ratings would have indicated.

See you all next year, when it is just possible that Oxford will be fielding a very, very strong player indeed. World women's number one Hou Yifan will be starting an Oxford course next autumn...

2018 Varsity Chess Match

© 2018 John Saunders, all photos and text - not to be used without permission