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Tournament: 4th Varsity Match • Venue: West End Chess Club, London • Date: Wednesday 5 April 1876
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The 4th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at West End Chess Club, Great Hall, Freemasons' Tavern, London, on Wednesday 5 April 1876 at 1pm with Wilhelm Steinitz adjudicating unfinished games. Oxford won toss, took white on odds in first round of matches.

Bd Oxford University Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Cambridge University
1w Hon. Horace Curzon Plunkett (University) 1-0 0-1 - John Neville Keynes (Pembroke)
2b William Grundy (Worcester) 0-1 1-0 - * Walter William Rouse Ball (Trinity)
3w Samuel Redhead Meredith (Brasenose) 1-0 1-0 1-0 Thomas Hughes Delabere May (Trinity)
4b Campbell Tracey (Lincoln) 1-0 1-0 1-0 James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto (Trinity)
5w Charles Lewis Brook (Trinity) 1-0 1-0 - Reginald Colebrooke Reade (King's)
6b John Oswald (Brasenose) 1-0 0-1 - William Hewison Gunston (St John's)
7w Walter Montague Gattie (Christ Church) 0-1 0-1 0-1 John William Lord (Trinity)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), (compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987); Huddersfield College Magazine, April 1876, p182; BCM; The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, April 09, 1876; pg. 6; Sergeant, Philip W, A Century of Chess (London 1934), p295-296 & 344 (ref'd as PWS); FreeBMD & other statutory records; Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. 8 of the 17 games played are available in the download.

[Huddersfield College Magazine, April 1876, p182 - which has V.Oswald for the Oxford board 6.]

"THE fourth Inter-University Chess match was played at the Freemasons' Tavern, in London, on Wednesday, April 5th [1876]. We think that all lovers of Chess will feel it a matter for congratulation that this contest seems now firmly established as an annual event, for although the standard of Chess attained by the Universities is by no means a high one, yet we believe that these matches tend very much to an increased cultivation of the game both in the Universities and amongst Chess-players in general.

"It will be seen from the score that the result of the match this year was decidedly in favour of Oxford, owing, perhaps, partly to the fact that they had only lost two members of last year's team, while Cambridge had been obliged to supply the places of four; but more, doubtless, to their having been roused to a greater sense of their need of practice by means of their crushing defeats in the two previous years. The result of the matches, so far as they have now been played, has been to give each University two victories, so that the contest next year may be expected to be unusually keen and exciting, since each side will no doubt do its utmost to turn the scale.

"On the three previous occasions the Universities have played under the auspices of the City of London Chess Club, but this year an invitation was sent to and accepted by them from the West End Chess Club, which we believe has only been in existence a few months, but which already numbers amongst its members some of the most eminent players in London. The manner in which the University clubs were received could not possibly have been more hospitable, and the arrangements were as complete as the utmost care could make them. Play commenced at one o'clock in the large hall of the Freemasons' Tavern, which was very tastefully decorated. The combatants were screened off in such a manner that they were not in the least incommoded by the spectators, while the latter had ample facilities for watching any game they pleased. The first game was scored by Cambridge, Mr. Lord's opponent having been complaisant enough, by taking a proffered piece, to render himself liable to an immediate mate. Fortune, however, soon turned, for Messrs. Meredith, Brook, and Tracey each won a game in quick succession, and shortly before the time fixed for adjournment, the Oxford Captain, Mr. Plunkett, succeeded in winning a hard fought game from Mr. Keynes on board No. 1, though on the other hand Mr. Ball won a game for Cambridge against Mr. Grundy.

"After the adjournment, which lasted for an hour, the success of Oxford was still more marked, Mr. Meredith and Mr. Tracey each winning two more games, and Mr. Brook one. Mr. Oswald, also, who was playing in the match for the first time, won, after some careful play, what turned out to be the longest game in the match. Mr. Gattie, who had lost a second game to Mr. Lord, managed at last to show somewhat more of his proper strength, and won a victory for Oxford at the eleventh hour. Mr. Grundy also retrieved his former defeat. Two games were left to be adjudged, and both were given in favour of Cambridge, one of these being between Mr. Plunkett and Mr. Keynes, in which the latter had cleverly contrived to take advantage of two or three weak moves on the part of his opponent. The umpire, as on all previous occasions, was Herr Steinitz, and the greatest confidence was placed not only in his wen known ability, but also in his perfect impartiality. The final result of the play was as follows...

"Decidedly the best played game in the match was the first one between Mr. Plunkett and Mr. Keynes, but we believe several of the others were not without interesting points, and the opinion was expressed at the time that the games on the whole were more carefully played than in former years. The victory was certainly as unexpected on the part of the Oxford team as it was decisive, for they have been for two years deprived of their strongest player, Mr. Parratt, who has not felt himself able to give the amount of practice to the game necessary to do himself justice. For ourselves we think his decision in this matter is to be regretted, and though it would be too much to say that his absence was the cause of Oxford's defeat last year, yet undoubtedly their work was made much harder, since each player had to contend against a stronger opponent than would otherwise have been the ease. It is curious that had Mr. Parratt played, three of this year's Oxford team would have been present or late inhabitants of Huddersfield or its immediate neighbourhood.

"After the match the two teams were invited to dinner by the West End Chess Club. Not less than fifty sat down to dinner, which was excellently served in the dining-room of the Freemasons' Tavern. We suppose the two London Clubs which have hitherto invited the Universities on these occasions, must have a well grounded conviction of the importance of such contests to Chess in general, for they have certainly displayed their hospitality on a scale which would be ruinous to clubs less enthusiastically supported. The after-dinner speeches this year were better than on previous occasions, Mr. Macdonnell especially exceeding the ordinary measure of even an Irishman's eloquence.
On the whole we think the match may claim to be as great a success as any of its predecessors. Although the number of spectators was less numerous than on other occasions, this was amply accounted for by the fact that the match was chiefly played in the afternoon instead of, as before, at night, and the fact of a smaller attendance was a relief rather than otherwise to the players. In short, the West End Club and the University Clubs have only to offer each other mutual congratulations till the time for next year's match comes round. S. R. M. [presumably SR Meredith]

Westminster Papers, 1 May 1876: "The Fourth Annual Match between the Chess players of Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played at the Freemasons' Tavern, on the 5th ultimo, under the auspices of the West End Chess Club. Each University was represented by seven players, and the conditions of the match were that each competitor should play two games with a time limit of one hour for every twenty moves. Of the Oxford seven, five had taken part in last year's tilt, whilst four new champions appeared to do battle for Cambridge, and the match resulted in a decisive victory for the more experienced team, Oxford winning with a score of eleven to four. Two unfinished games were decided upon theory by Herr Steinitz, who on this, as if we recollect rightly, upon every other occasion when he has had that duty to perform, divided the honours equally between the two Universities. If these decisions of Herr Steinitz's affected the victory one way or the other, there would be very grave objections to the principle involved in them, for practical play is not always conducted in accordance with correct theory, even by the best players. As they do not, and never have affected the victory, the question suggests itself, why should such a ridiculous proceeding be permitted? The players were paired by their respective captains, according to their reputed skill, and the following table shows the pairing and the score.

"After the match the competitors were entertained at a dinner provided by the members of the West End Chess Club, Mr. Eccles, the president of the club, in the chair. The toast of the evening, "Our Guests," proposed in fitting terms by the president, was responded to by the Honourable H. Plunkett on behalf of Oxford, and by Mr. Lord on behalf of Cambridge."

The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, April 09, 1876; pg. 6; "The fourth annual match between the Oxford and Cambridge Chess Clubs took place at the Freemasons' Tavern, under the auspices of the West-end Chess Club, on Wednesday. The following Is the pairing and final score of the teams, commencing at one o’clock, terminating at half-past seven, Stelnltz offlciatlng as umpire.

"During the progress of the match Mr Zukertort exhibited his wonderful skill in blindfold chess by playing six games simultaneously without seeing the board, and winning them all out of hand. This was a mere pleasant skirmish for Mr Zukertort, who has played as many as fourteen blindfold games at once without incurring any extraordinary fatigue."

Cambridge Independent Press, 8 Apr 1876: "Oxford won toss, white on board 1... Plunkett opened with a Steinitz Gambit (Vienna)... Ball played Ruy Lopez and won ... Meredith's opponent played a French... Chatoo-Tracey Giuoco Piano, won by Black ... one-hour adjournment at 4pm... Mr. Eccles in chair for dinner..."

Bury and Norwich Post, 11 Apr 1876, quotes The Field: "While on the subject of University competitions, we record our objection to the principle of the Universities making any parade of competition in any pursuit in which they cannot rank in the first flight. The fact that there should be any inducement for them to do so shows still more the foolish adulation which attends every University contest. If there were a University hopping or smoking match, we believe the people would crowd to see it, and would crown the winner with bays. In rowing, cricket, rackets, and athletics, the University representatives stand in the first flight, and can always contend against the world without disgrace, even though not always without defeat. But when they parade their billiards, their chess, and such like minor attainments in public, we ask, cui bono? They surely do not think to read a lesson by them, or to set up a standard of amateur merit therein. Half the counter-skippers who look on at their billiards can give them points; scores of those who watch their chess can give them pawn and two, and often a clear piece. Maybe they are promising aspirants for their class in these pursuits; but for public display there should be positive, not merely relative, merit to admire. With these deprecations we qualify the approval which in other respects we do not refuse to concede to the modern furore for University contests."

Cambridge Independent Press, 8 April 1876, p5: "OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE CHESS MATCH. CHESS has within a few years improved so rapidly in popularity that tournaments, national, international, and provincial, and matches between individuals, clubs, and Universities have grown too frequent to excite any extraordinary interest. Nevertheless, the institution of an annual chess contest between the great Universities, whose more generally known combats are rather of an athletic than an intellectual nature, is in the present era of muscle worthy of peculiar attention.

"Correspondence games had frequently been played between the Oxford and Cambridge Chess Clubs, but it was not till the year 1873 that the idea was conceived of "putting them together over the board" at the time of year when people are keenly interested in the inter-University billiard and racquet matches, and, above all, in the great struggle on the Thames. The City of London Chess Club took the matter in hand, and the excitement occasioned in the chess world completely proved the happiness of the conception. A team of seven was chosen from either University, the ties being selected by the captains according to strength and not drawn by lot, and the number of games concluded within a fixed time decided the match.

"At the first meeting Dark Blue achieved a hollow victory—winning nine games to two—but in the lollowing year sustained a terrible reverse, losing thirteen games to three. In the latter match Mr. Plunkett—now captain of the Oxford team—lost two games to Mr. T. H. D. May, of Trinity, and much surprise was exhibited at tbe rapid improvement in Cambridge Chess. In 1875 Cambridge maintained its superiority, winning ten games to five, the quality of the games, however, being hardly up to the level of 1874.

"The match of Wednesday—the fourth of its kind—was arranged under the auspices of the West End Chess Club, who, lacking space to accommodate a large audience at their own rooms, engaged the Great Hall at Freemasons’ Tavern. Many of the great masters of metropolitan chess were present during the match, including the veteran Lowenthal, Messrs Steinitz and Blackburne, the victor and vanquisher in the late great single-handed contest; Mr. Manning, the president, and Mr. F. S. Walker, the hon. secretary of the City of London Chess Club; Mr. J. Eccles, president of the West End Chess Club; Rev. G. A. MacDonnell, Rev. C. E. Ranken, Mr. Leopold Hoffer, secretary pro tem, West End Chess Club: and Lord Dunsany, together with a considerable number of ladies. Play commenced shortly after one o’clock, tbe combatants being completely fenced in from the pressure of the numerous spectators.

"The pairing of the team was as follows : Oxford —1, Hon. H. C. Plunkett, University; 2, W. Grundy, Worcester; 3. S. R. Meredith, Brasenose; 4, C. Tracy, Lincoln; 5, C. L. Brook, Trinity; 6, J. Oswald, Brasenose; 7, W. Gattie, Christchurch. Cambridge—1, J. N. Keynes, Pembroke; 2, W. W. R. Ball, Trinity ; 3, T. H. T. May, Trinity; 4, J. T. C. Chatto, Trinity; 5, R. C. Reade, King’s; 6, W. H. Gunston, St. John’s; 7, J. W. Lord, Trinity.

"As Oxford won the toss for the first move on board No. 1. they—as in these cases the moves are taken at alternate boards—enjoyed the slight advantage of four first moves to three. Mr. Plunkett opened his game with a Steinitz gambit (a variation of the Vienna opening), and, after outliving a sharp and novel counter-attack from Mr. Keynes, won his game in good style. Mr. Ball adopted the Ruy Lopez game, and won, after a good game. Mr. Meredith did not succeed in getting an open game—his opponent preferring the French defence—but he won nevertheless.

"The game between Messrs. Chatto and Tracy took the shape of the Giuoco Piano, and was won by the second player. At four o’clock, when an adjournment for an hour took place, the Dark Blues had won four games to their opponents’ two. On play being resumed the champions of the Cam failed to improve their position, as at a quarter to seven the Dark Blues had scored seven games, to four won by Cambridge.

"At the conclusion of the match the score stood as follows;
1. Plunkett 1-1 Keynes
2. Grundy 1-1 Ball
3. Meredith 3-0 May
4. Tracy 3-0 Chatto
5. Brook 2-0 Reade
6. Oswald 1-1 Gunston
7. Gattie 1-2 Lord
12 5

During the progress of the University match, Mr. Zukertort exhibited his wonderful skill in blindfold chess by playing six games simultaneously without seeing the board, and winning them all out of hand. This was a mere pleasant skirmish for Mr. Zukertort, who has played as many as fourteen blindfold games at once without incurring any extraordinary fatigue. In another room Mr. Blackburne played simultaneously against all comers, but did not on this occasion display his remarkable powers in blindfold chess. Play being over, the University teams dined with the members of the West End Chess Club, the president, Mr. Eccles, occupying the chair."

Biographical Notes

Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett (24 October 1854 - 26 March 1932), Unionist MP, supporter of Home Rule, Irish senator, agricultural reformer. Wikipedia. Irish Chess History. A relative of Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett, 1878-1957), a noted chess player and writer. President of the Dublin Chess Club (1904-23). Drew with Capablanca in a simul, Dublin 1919. Played in the 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1877 Varsity chess matches.

William Grundy (13 October 1850 - 5 December 1891), priest, schoolmaster. Died in Malvern. Played in the 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1877 Varsity chess matches. Father of William Mitchell Grundy (1880-1961) who played for Oxford in the Varsity matches of 1901, 1902 and 1903.

Samuel Redhead Meredith (5 May 1850 - 3 October 1926). Born 5 May 1850, Meltham Mills, Huddersfield [FreeBMD], married [Sept quarter of] 1880, Goole [FreeBMD] either Janet Elizabeth Clark or Susan Clark, died 3 Oct 1926, Waltham-on-the-Hill, Surrey, Walton-on-the-Hill [BCM] "We regret to record the death of Mr. S. R. Meredith at his residence, Walton-on-the-Hill, in October last. He was once president of the Leeds Chess Club and was a subscriber to the B.C.M. since 1890. His family have presented his complete set of bound volumes from that year to the present time to the London Chess League and they may now be seen at St. Bride's Institute." (BCM, Feb 1927, p69) See also the Yorkshire Chess History website. Played in the 1873, 1874, 1875 and 1876 Varsity chess matches.

Campbell Tracey (1855 - 3 October 1911), 2nd son of John Tracey, of Dartmouth, Devon, cler. Lincoln College, matric. 25 Oct 1873, aged 18; scholar 1874-7, B.A. 1878, M.A. 1880. b (Jun) 1855, Dartmouth/Totnes, Devon, d. 3 Oct 1911, St Thomas, Devonshire (retired schoolmaster), m. 1885 Amelia Ellis [surname unknown] (born Barbados), no children, lived in Exmouth in 1911. Played in the 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1877 Varsity chess matches.

[BCM, January 1892, p16] OBITUARY "The news of the almost sudden death of the Rev. W. Grundy, headmaster of Malvern College, will be received with much regret by a large circle of chess players. As an undergraduate of Worcester College, Oxford, Mr. Grundy joined the University Chess Club, and made his first appearance as one of its champions in the annual match with Cambridge, in 1877. Being soon after elected fellow and lecturer of his college, he was unable to give much time to chess, and in 1878 he left the University to take a mastership at his old school, Rossall. Here he remained till 1881, when he was elected head master of the King's School, Warwick, which he succeeded in raising from a low ebb to great prosperity. At this period his former passion for chess seems to have revived, so that in 1883 he held at the school, during the Christmas holidays, a large meeting of amateurs of the game, and in the chief tourney he tied with Mr. Aspa, of Leamington, for the first prize. In 1885 he obtained the headmastership of Malvern College, and the same excellent judgment and administrative powers which had served him at Warwick, were employed in the new sphere to raise the number of boys from under two hundred to three hundred and thirty, and also greatly to improve the achievements and moral tone of the school. Although now unable to give much time to chess, Mr. Grundy occasionally took part in the matches of the Worcester Club, of which he was a member, and in the holidays he was a frequent visitor to the Divan, in London, where he invariably chose the strongest player present as his opponent. His death was caused by a chill, which he caught after playing a game of fives on December 1st [1891], and his illness lasted only four days. [... later in same issue... ] ["... Mr Grundy was a frequent visitor at the Divan when in town, and the foregoing is a fair specimen of his style. Besides being a good player he was a true gentleman, and, so far as I could judge, in every sense one of the best men I ever encountered over the board." (See also BCM, p 353, July 1891)" (Tinsley, p34)]

Charles Lewis Brook (12 June 1855 - 9 May 1939), sewing thread manufacturer. BCM, Sept 1939, p396 mentions the death of C.L. Brook in connection with Huddersfield Chess Club. He was a vice-president of the Yorkshire Chess Association. The Huddersfield College Magazine of April 1875 says he was of a family of Meltham, near Huddersfield. Brook, Charles Lewis, o.s. Charles John, of Grieve, Yorks., arm. Trinity College, matric. 19 Oct 1874, aged 19, B.A. 1878 (Alumni); sewing thread manuf'r, didn't marry (Census 1911). Played in the 1875, 1876 and 1877 Varsity chess matches. Further info, Yorkshire Chess History website.

John Oswald (12 June 1856 - 1 May 1917) Brasenose Coll. matric. 19 Oct 1875. 1901 Census, living on own means, Westminster, b. Shirehampton, Gloucs. Diplomatic Service, Foreign Off (census 1881, at Eton, also in 1891, when listed as 'retired official, Foreign Office'). Unmarried. 1st son of James Townsend Oswald (1820-1893) and Ellen Octavia Miles (1821-1907). In 1875 played various cricket matches for Eton. Played in the 1876 Varsity chess match.

Walter Montagu(e) Gattie (21 July 1854 - 17 November 1907), author of papers and books (What English People Read, 1889). Grade 1 clerk/surveyor, GPO. "Gattie, Walter Montague, 1s. William, of London, gent. Christ Church, matric 16 Oct., 1874, aged 20; exhibitioner 1876-8, B.A. 1878." (Alumni Oxoniensis). (BCM, Dec 1907, p542): "It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Mr. W. M. Gattie, of London, who died at Bournemouth on November 17th [1907], in his fifty-second year. Mr. Gattie was a graduate of Oxford, and represented his University no less than five times in the annual matches with Cambridge. The last occasion was in 1881, when he headed the Oxford team and defeated Mr. J.F. Sugden. During the eighties Mr. Gattie was recognised as one of the strongest of Metropolitan amateur players, and he rendered excellent service in matches for the St. George's Chess Club, of which he was a leading member, contemporary with the late Rev. W.W. Wayte, Rev. A.B. Skipworth, and Mr. J.I. Minchin. Mr. Gattie was a close student of the theory of chess, and possessed a wide knowledge of the openings, which enabled him to render valuable help in assisting to prepare for publication the Book of the London International Tournament of 1883. During recent years indifferent health prevented his indulging in hard play, but he competed in the recent amateur tournament at Ostend." Won the first British Amateur Chess Championship in 1886. Played in the 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880 and 1881 Varsity chess matches. President of OUCC, 1878-9.

John Neville Keynes (31 August 1852 - 15 November 1949), economist and father of John Maynard Keynes (whom he outlived). Educated at Amersham Hall School, University College London and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1876. Lectureship, Moral Sciences (1883-1911). Played in the 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877 and 1878 Varsity chess matches. Wikipedia.

Walter William Rouse Ball (14 August 1850 - 4 April 1925), mathematician, lawyer, magician. Fellow, Trinity, Cambridge (1878-1905). Founding president of the Cambridge University Pentacle Club in 1919. Played in the 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1877 Varsity chess matches. Wikipedia.

Thomas Hughes Delabere May (8 March 1852 - 5 December 1942) Entered: Michs. 1870, pens. at Trinity, July 9, 1870. S. of Thomas, of Grove House, Durdham Down, Clifton, near Bristol. B. Mar. 8, 1852, at Sonning, Berks. School, Clifton College. Matric. Michs. 1870; B.A. 1875; M.A. 1879. Of Somerset Place, Bath. Translated Virgil's Aeneid, 1902. Died Dec. 5, 1942. (The Times, Dec. 12, 1942; Clifton Coll. Reg.) Played in the 1874, 1875 and 1876 Varsity chess matches.

James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto (30 April 1854 - 11 February 1907). Clergyman. "The West London Chess Club was founded in 1893 by the Reverend James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto... J.T.C. Chatto also produced the Amateur Chess Magazine from 1872* onwards - nearly 10 years before the arrival of the BCM. He left the [West London] club at the end of May 1897 to become the Vicar of East Kennett in Wiltshire, then in 1900 he became the rector of Blunston St. Andrew (slightly further north) until his death in 1907. He retained the [club] presidency until 1898, when it was taken over by Mr Atherley-Jones QC MP." [https://www.westlondonchess.com/history]. (* "The Amateur Chess Magazine was first issued on June 1st, 1872. the last number on June 1st, 1874. The editor was J. C. T. [sic] Chatto." (BCM, Quotes & Queries, Feb 1954, p54)). Alumni Cantabrigienses: "Adm. pens. at TRINITY, Oct. 7, 1874. Of 7, Granville Square, London. S. of Robert [V. of Rockfield, Monm., 1845; died Feb. 9, 1867, in London]. B. Apr. 30, 1854, in London. [School, Wellington College.] Matric. Michs. 1874; B.A. 1878; M.A. 1881. Ord. deacon, 1875; priest (York) 1879; C. of Coatham, 1878-81. Assistant Master of Coatham High School, 1879-81. V. of Caundle Stourton, Dorset, 1880-6. C. of St Columb Major, Cornwall, 1884-5. V. of Ramsgill, Yorks., 1886-7. V. of St Cuthbert's, Thetford, Norfolk, 1888. R. of Kirklington, Cumberland, 1889-91. V. of East Kennett, Wilts., 1896-1900. R. of Blunden St Andrew, 1900-7. Resided latterly at Swindon. Editor of several Chess Magazines. Died Feb. 11, 1907, aged 51. (Crockford; The Times, Feb. 13, 1907; Wellington Coll. Reg.)" No BCM obit. Played in the 1876, 1877 and 1878 Varsity chess matches.

Reginald Colebrooke Reade (25 August 1853 - 29 June 1891), architect & surveyor. Entered King's, Michaelmas 1873. Adm. at King's, a scholar from Eton, Oct. 11, 1873. 4th s. of Alfred (1832), Esq., of Datchet, Bucks. B. Aug. 25, 1853. Matric. Michs. 1873; B.A. 1877; M.A. 1880. An architect. Of Torquay, Devon. Surveyor of ecclesiastical dilapidations in the diocese of Exeter for the Archdeaconry of Totnes. Secretary and Manager of St John's National School, Braddon Street, Torquay. An active member of the Torquay chess club. Author, A Mexican Mystery (1888); Wreck of a World (1889), written under the nom de plume of W. Grove. Died June 29, 1891, from injuries received falling from a cliff at Willow Cove, near Dartmouth. (Torquay Directory, July, 1891; King's Coll. Reg.) Monument erected where he fell from the cliff. President of CUCC, 1876-7. Played in the 1876, 1879 and 1880 Varsity chess matches.

William Hewison Gunston (9 September 1856 - 25 January 1941), Cambridge don & auditor. Obituary [BCM, June 1941, p164] "William Hewison Gunston, elder son of Robert and Mary Gunston of Loughborough Park, Brixton, was born on September 9th, 1856. He was educated at Danehill House, Margate, and St Olave's, Southwark. In 1871 he did such remarkable papers in the Oxford Local Examination that he was offered a scholarship at Oxford when too young (15!) to accept it. Later, at the ordinary age, he went up to Cambridge with a scholarship at St John's. He was fourth wrangler in 1879: a fellowship followed in due course. He was also M.A. and mathematical gold medallist of London University. He played five times for Cambridge against Oxford: 1876 (one win, one loss at board 6, 1877 (one win, one loss at board 3), 1878 (two wins at board 2), 1879 and 1880 (three wins, one draw v. W. M. Gattie at board 1). He was President of the University Chess Club in the Michaelmas Term, 1877. Later in life he was for many years President of the Cambridge Town Chess Club. Till 1890 Gunston had not much more than a local reputation. The British Chess Magazine says in that year: "he is the acknowledged strongest player in Cambridge; he was fancied by his friends, before play commenced, for first prize". He had married in 1883 Letitia Dougan (sister of the Professor of Latin, Queen's University, Belfast) and settled down to a severe life's work of teaching and examining. His fellowship lapsed, but he was for many years auditor to his college. No doubt by 1890 he had thoroughly established his professional position. Anyhow in that year, with a double illumination, he began a triumphant procession of successes.

1890 - C.C.A. at Cambridge: 1st without a loss. Of his game with Skipworth the British Chess Magazine says: "he made one of the most brilliant combinations of which the chess board is capable, surprising and outplaying his veteran opponent."
1890 - Manchester International Tournament. Frankenstein brilliancy prize for game v. Gunsberg.
1893 - Cambridge, unofficial National Tournament at St Catharine's College, 2nd.
1893 - Match, North v. South (106 boards): draw with C. E. Ranken at board 5.
1894 - Match, North v, South (108 boards): draw with T. B. Wilson at board 12.
1896 - S.C.C.U. at Clifton: 3rd and 4th equal, and brilliancy prize for game v. C. J. Lambert.
1897 - S.C.C.U. at Southampton: 4th.
1898 - S.C.CU. at Salisbury: 3rd.
1903 - Cable match, Great Britain v U.S.A. won v. C S. Howell at board 9.
1903 - S.C.CU. at Plymouth: 2nd and 3rd equal.
1904 - B.C.F. Hastings: 1st in First Class Amateur Section A.
1909 - B.C.F., Scarborough: 3rd in First Class Amateur Section B, and brilliancy prize for game v. P. Wenman.
1910 - B.C.F., Oxford: 1st in Major Open (the first year of these tournaments), and brilliancy prize for game v G. Shories.
1912 - B.C.F., Richmond: 1st equal (with A. Speyer) in Major Open, and brilliancy prize for game v. J. C. Waterman.

During the Great War, Gunston, as were other mathematicians, was entrusted by the Admiralty with the task of working out the trajectories of anti-aircraft projectiles. After the war, except for a few appearances in matches, mostly local, Gunston gave up serious play over the board, and devoted himself to correspondence chess. He was an honorary member of the London Four-Handed Chess Club, and was exceedingly fond of, and clever at, both that game and Kriegspiel. Gunston played a hard-hitting, sensible, logical game. He once said to R.P. Michell, "I would rather be known as a sound than as a brilliant player": but if a bird of brilliant hue crossed his path, he could usually put salt on its tail. Did any other English amateur ever win five brilliancy prizes in international and national tournaments? He was a master of the Ruy Lopez, and very successful with it. At Richmond in 1912 after winning his tournament game v. Speyer (who was White in a Q.G.D.) in the morning, he successfully defended a Lopez v. Yates in the match, Championship v. Major Open, the same evening: a remarkable double event. He got good results against the Petroff with the old continuation 3 P-Q4, PxP (long thought better than 3...KtxP). In his later years when close defences reigned, he seemed completely at home against the Caro-Kann, usually adopting the exchange variation. He had the strong player's preference for Bishop as against Knight - "I am a convinced Episcopalian, as far as chess is concerned, at any rate" - and considered two Bishops, well posted, as strong as Rook and Knight. Gunston was a man of genial habit and manner. He could take care of himself, but was essentially modest. He did not overvalue chess or his own strength at it. He did not keep the scores of his games, and many most striking correspondence games, unless preserved by his opponents, are lost. Once he showed a final position, in which his three last moves were Q-R4, Q-R4, Q-R4; but the full score of the game was not forthcoming. He had many other interests. He was musical, and used to say that all chess-players were so. He retired from professional life in 1926. He died at King's Lynn on January 25th, 1941. His wife, four sons, and three daughters survive him.


If Gunston had sent this game in for the brilliancy prize, instead of his game with Waterman, he might well have been equally successful." B.G.B. [Bertram Goulding Brown]. Alumni Cantabrigienses: " Adm. pens. at ST JOHN'S, Apr. 27, 1875. Of Middlesex. [Elder] s. of Robert, 'porkman' [and Mary]. B. Sept. 9, 1856, at St Peter's, Saffron Hill. Bapt. Oct. 5, 1856. [Schools, Danehill House, Margate, and St Olave's, Southwark.] Matric. Michs. 1875; Scholar, 1877; B.A. (4th Wrangler) 1879; M.A. 1882. Fellow, 1879-85. Mathematical 'coach' and well known as a chess player. Of 26, Station Road, Cambridge, in 1939. Died Jan. 25, 1941, at King's Lynn. (The Times, Jan. 29, 1941; British Chess Magazine, LXI [1941]. 164-5.)" Played in the 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879 and 1880 Varsity chess matches.

John William Lord (27 July 1851 - 4 September 1883), Fellow Of Trinity College, Cambridge. Gold Medalist of London University, Fellow Of University College, London. Alumni Cantabrigienses: "Adm. pens. at Trinity, Jan. 23, 1871. S. of Isaac, of Trinity Road, Birmingham. B. 1851, at Ipswich. [Schools, Cambridge House, Birmingham and Amersham, Reading]; and at University College, London. (B.A. 1870; M.A. 1874). Matric. Michs. 1871; Scholar, 1872-6; B.A. (Senior Wrangler) 1875; M.A. 1878. Fellow, 1876-81. Lived at Davos. Died Sept. 4, 1883, at Clarens (Switzerland) (Boase, II. 496; Cambridge Review, v.3; The Guardian, Sept. 12, 1883.)" Buried at Ipswich. Father Isaac was a baptist minister, Handsworth, Staffs, in 1871.

File updated

Date Notes
21 July 2020 Original upload.
21 December 2020 The results table has been corrected. (I had the Oxford boards 2-4 in the wrong order. The game file was correct and unaffected.) My thanks to Jason Radley for drawing my attention to the error.


All material © 2020 John Saunders