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John Saunders


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Tournament: 5th Varsity Match • Venue: St. George's Chess Club, 20 King Street, London • Date: Thursday 22 March 1877
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1876 • Forward to 1878 • last edited: Monday November 16, 2020 0:35 AM

The 5th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St. George's Chess Club, 20 King Street, St. James's, London, on Thursday 22 March 1877 with Wilhelm Steinitz adjudicating unfinished games.

Bd Oxford University Game 1 Game 2 Cambridge University
1b Hon. Horace Curzon Plunkett (University) ½-½ 1-0 John Neville Keynes (Pembroke)
2w William Grundy (Worcester) 1-0 0-1 * Walter William Rouse Ball (Trinity)
3b Campbell Tracey (Lincoln) 1-0 0-1 William Hewison Gunston (St John's)
4w Charles Lewis Brook (Trinity) 1-0 - James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto (Trinity)
5b Walter Montague Gattie (Christ Church) 1-0 ½-½ George Bertram Stocker (King's)
6w Francis Michael Wright (Queen's) 1-0 - Joseph Shield Nicholson (Trinity)
7b Raymond Mortimer Latham (Exeter) 1-0 1-0 Efric Leofwin Kearney (St Catharine's)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), (compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987); ; 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. 2 of the 12 games played are available in the download.

The Field, 24 March 1877: "This match, which has now firmly taken root amongst the annual rivalries of the two Universities, came off on Thursday at the rooms, and under the auspices of the St. George's Chess Club, 20 King St, St. James's, in a quiet manner, and without the ostentation of an exhibition before the general public. The members of the two teams assembled between one and two o'clock, and were paired according to strength as follows: [team lists - note that the top two boards of each side were listed as fellows of their colleges]

"Previous to the commencement of the match, a modification as regards the adjudication of the unfinished games was agreed upon by the two captains, the Hon. H. C. Plunkett and Mr Keynes, and the umpire, Mr Steinitz. It will be remembered that on former occasions the decision upon the games submitted for adjudication was based on the assumption that both sides would make the best moves, and an analysis from that point of view appeared in our columns. This system cannot be regarded in the least unjust in the abstract, as the chances of a deviation from the correct line of play may be considered equal on both sides; nor had any case arisen in former matches which did not admit of a clear demonstration. Nevertheless, and in order to remove all theoretical objections, it was agreed that the umpire should be be bound by strict scientific grounds only on the first two boards, and that he should then award the game if in his opinion an analysis of six moves deep could establish a superiority for either party in all variations. In all other cases the widest discretion was to be left in the hands of the umpire as regards declaring a game drawn, if in his judgment, including the calculation of chances of actual play, the difficulty of the position or the strength of the players were in the way of accomplishing another result for either side.

"The match commenced at ten minutes past two, the Cambridge captain having won the toss for the first move, which was taken in turn on the other boards. The first players commenced with e4 on all the boards, excepting at No. 6 where Mr Wright opened with d4, which his opponent answered with the Q fianchetto, 1...b6; and at board No. 7, where Mr Kearney opened irregularly with 1 f4. On board No. 1 1...e5 was replied by Plunkett, whereupon Keynes proceeded with the KB Opening.

"On board No. 2 Ball answered with the French début 1...e6. On No. 3 Gunston played the Ruy Lopez. On No. 4 Chatto replied with the close opening, 1...e6. No. 5 developed itself into a two knights' defence.

"The Oxonians had the advantage of the latest training in an all-round tournament, and also of having only one entirely new competitor, Mr Latham, as against two on the other side, namely, Messrs Stocker and Kearney. Nevetheless, the play seemed to be quite even up to half past three o'clock; and notably was the play at the rear of the team surprisingly good compared to previous years. About that time the prospects of Cambridge seemed to brighten, for on board No. 5 Gattie had made an unsound sacrifice of a piece for two pawns. Gunston had the best of the opening, having given a doubled pawn to the opponent on each wing of the board, and also shut up the latter's bishops. The other games presented no marked difference; but on board No. 7 some connoisseurs were attracted by an interesting complication, which was fought by both the combatants with a skill quite beyond the expectations which the two last players on the list, who were also entirely new comers, could otherwise have excited.

"At a quarter past four the game on board No. 1 was given up as a draw, and a second was soon commenced. But hardly had some of the spectators (who on hearing that a game had been finished had crowded round the table to see the end position) left the players on board No. 1 to open ther second encounter and settled again to watch other games already further developed, when a rumour ran through the room that the second game on board No. 1 was finished. And thus it was; for Mr Keynes, who, as second player, had adopted in the opening the Indian combination of ...g6 and ....d6, noticed in our columns in some of the games between Cochrane and Moheschunder, had by an ill-considered move left himself open to the loss of a clear piece, and, on Mr Plunkett making the right reply, resigned the second game on the eighth move. It is only fair to state that Mr Keynes in 1875 won two games, and last year made even games against the same opponent. [JS note - I should very much like to find this eight-move game Plunkett-Keynes but have so far drawn a blank. Surprising that such a short game should not have been published - any ideas?]

"Shortly after this sudden collapse Oxford scored another victory on board No. 7, which had been fairly gained by Mr Latham. The second game was then commenced on board No. 7, and in answer to Latham's 1.e4 Kearney evaded the open game by the Sicilian opening, 1...c5. Nothing of importance occurred for some time, excepting that Tracey had by a slip of his adversary relieved himself from his depressed position, and was now turning the tables by commencing a strong and well-conducted attack with his doubled rooks against the hostile K side, whereby he ultimately won the game in good style.

"No other game was finished up to 5.20, when again Cambridge had to strike the flag on board No. 2. Ball had commenced an attack, allowing his c-pawn to be captured at c5, and thus leaving the d-pawn isolated. His opponent cleverly held this weakness in sight, and after carefully resisting the pressure of attack, made it contribute to his own advantage, which finally increased to a winning one.

"At a quarter to six Latham added another victory for Oxford on board No. 7. Again no other opportunity arose for a second round on any of the other boards until 6.30, when, on board No. 5, Gattie, for Oxford, obtained a narrow victory. His opponent, with a piece ahead, had directed his attention to exchanging without brining out new pieces; and having thus weakened his prospect of victory, he would up by a mistake which entailed defeat at a time when, after all, he might have won without much exertion.

"Thus far the Cantabs had not scored a single game, but there did not seem to be great danger of Oxford scoring a love match, as the former team had much the best of the struggles on boards No. 4 and 6. On the latter Nicholson missed several opportunities of winning a hard-fought game, but ultimately came out with the exchange ahead. His opponent, however, wriggled out of his difficulties patiently in the ending game, and at last managed to come out with two passed pawns and the B against the R. From this point Wright played remarkably well to queen one of his pawns, and finally gained the R for a P, which left him with an easily winning passed P and a B, after which his opponent resigned at about seven o'clock—the longest game of the match, in point of number of moves, which had, in nearly five hours' play risen up to 79, thus making the score 7 love in favour of Oxford.

"Board No. 4 was destined to the longest in point of time, though only comprising 39 moves, both parties playing slowly. Brook had pushed his pawns on the Q side too far; and Chatto, after breaking through, had forced the gain of the exchange, keeping up his advantage for a long time. However, just at the last, about twelve minutes past seven, he, by an incautious movementallowed his opponent to win a piece with one of his advanced pawns, and Mr Chatto, the president of the Cantabs, chivalrously resigned without waiting for the decision of the umpire, whose turn to decide the pending games had already been announced. However, this consideration was requited almost simultaneously by the president of the Oxonians. Mr Tracey resigned a well-fought game, in which Mr Gunston—who, as second player in the second round, had adopted the French opening—had managed to obtain a winning attack, thus scoring the first game for Cambridge just before the conclusion of the actual play.

"The umpire, Mr Steinitz, then proceeded to adjudicate the two remaining games on boards No. 2 and 5; the former he awarded in favour of Mr Ball, of Cambridge. The game, with the umpire's grounds of decision, will be found below. On board No. 5 the game had not advanced beyond the opening, and the forces and position being equal, the umpire declared the game drawn. Thus ended the fifth annual Inter-University Chess Match decisively in favour of Oxford, by eight games to two and two draws, which gives the Oxonians the supremacy with three victories against two, Cambridge having won in 1874 and 1875.

"The contest was watched with the greatest attention by a select number of spectators, chiefly members of the St. George's and of the West end Chess Club, the members of the latter having been specially invited. Amongst the gentlemen present were the Rev. Professor Wayte, the Rev. F. Puller, the Rev. C. E. Ranken, Col Stirling, Capt. Hall, Capt. Kennedy, Capt. Ross, Dr Ballard, Messrs Barrington, Cubison, Eccles, Hoffer, Godfrey, Gumpel, Mackern, Minchin, Reid, Rosenbaum, Shaw, Strode, Rimington, Wilson, Wyvill and Zukertort.

"At the conclusion of the match the two teams were entertained by the members of the St. George's with a dinner at the Criterion in a company of about seventy* [* corrected to 'about forty' in the next issue of The Field] gentlemen, the hon. sec. of the St. George's (Mr Minchin) presiding in the unavoidable absence of the president (the Earl of Dartrey). After the meal the chairman, in giving the loyal toasts, coupled "The Health of the Royal Family" with the name of His Royal Highness Prince Leopold, to whose exertions for the promotion of the game amongst the University men at Oxford he paid a high tribute. In proposing the next toast—the health of the University Chess Clubs, coupled with the names of Messrs Tracey and Chatto, in responding, expressed their warmest appreciation of the hospitality shown by the St. George's Chess Club. Professor Wayte, in a humorous and laudatory address, proposed the health of the Chess Masters, coupled with the name of Mr Steinitz whose labours in chess literature and qualities as a player as a player he highly complimented. Mr Steinitz, in returning his warmest thanks for the honour done to him, remarked that the inter-university match was sure to rise in popularity, as it had the advantage over other sports, that the actual contest can be brought before outsiders who are not eye-witnesses, by means of the games being published. Mr Eccles the president of the Western [sic - should probably be West End] Chess Club, next proposed the Chess Press, coupled with the names of the Rev. C. E. Ranken, the editor of the Chess Player's Chronicle, who, in his reply, said that he felt highly gratified in responding for one portion of the periodical chess literature, and regretted the hostile personalities which found expression in another portion, and were totally opposed to the spirit of the game. Other toasts followed, and speeches by Mr. W. W. R. Ball, the Rev. F. Puller, Mr Gumpel, the president of the West-end Chess Club, and Mr Zukertort, brought a most enjoyable evening to a close."

Huddersfield College Magazine, April 1877: "The annual match between Oxford and Cambridge came off on Thursday, March 22nd, at the rooms of the St. George's Chess Club, London. The following score gives the result of the match, the combatants being paired according to their relative strength of play. " [score] "Oxford have now won three out of the five contests played."

Times, Saturday, 24 March 1877: "A marked contrast to many competitions between the rival Universities was afforded by the chess match played on Thursday at the rooms of the St George's Chess Club, King Street, St James's. As usual, six [sic] players represented each University, the gentlemen on this occasion being:- Oxford - Hon. H.C. Plunkett, University; W. Grundy, Worcester; C. Tracey, Lincoln; C.L. Brook, Trinity; W.M. Gattie, Christ Church; F.M. Wright, Queen's; and R.M. Latham, Exeter. Cambridge - J.N. Keynes, Pembroke; W.W. Ball, Trinity; W.H. Gunston, St John's; J.T.C. Chatto, Trinity; G.B. Stocker, King's; J.S. Nicholson, Trinity; and E.L. Kearney, St. Catharine's. Latham was the only new man in the Oxford team this year, while there were three fresh hands for Cambridge - Stocker, Kearney and Nicholson; the last named, however, played two years ago.

"The six [sic] couples were to play two games if possible, the result, of course, being decided by the majority of victories. The Hon. H.C. Plunkett, Oxford, and J.N. Keynes, Cambridge, had a hard struggle for the first game; Keynes commenced with the King's Bishop's opening, and early in the game appeared to have the better of the play; but it afterwards became more even, and Keynes proposed a draw - a perfectly fair proposition, as neither had sufficient advantage to win. The second game collapsed suddenly, Plunkett beating Keynes in eight moves. This is the third year that these gentlemen had been pitted against each other.

"The second table was occupied by W. Grundy (Oxford) and Ball (Cambridge). The first game, a French opening, lasted three hours and twenty minutes, at the end of which Ball had to yield to the superior tactics of his opponent. The second game between these players (a Ruy Lopez) was not completed, and was decided by the umpire in favour of Ball.

"C.Tracey, Oxford, and W.H. Gunston, Cambridge won a game each. Gunston adopted the Ruy Lopez opening and at first had the better of it, but let his advantage slip, and Tracey won in nice style; the second game, a French opening, resulted in a victory for Gunston.

"C.L. Brook (Oxford) and J.T.C. Chatto (Cambridge) took a little over five hours to decide their only game, in which were 39 moves. Chatto, who went in the for the French opening, had the exchange ahead up to the last few moves, but then lost his advantage, and Brook won the game.

"W.M. Gattie (Oxford) and G.B. Stocker (Cambridge) were three hours and a quarter deciding their first game. Gattie played the two knights defence and made an unsound sacrifice of a piece; Stocker kept exchanging without bringing new pieces to the front, and eventually making a mistake enabled his opponent to win. The second game between these gentlemen did not get much beyond the opening, and as the forces were even the umpires gave it as a draw.

"F.M. Wright (Oxford) and J.S. Nicholson (Cambridge) occupied 4 hours 50 minutes with their only game. Nicholson, who played a Queen's fianchetto, had the advantage for some time, but then made a weak move, and, after a long-ending game, Wright won on the 79th move - the greatest number of any in the match.

"R.M. Latham, Oxford, won two games against E.L. Kearney, Cambridge. The first, an irregular opening, which lasted a little more than three hours and a half, was a good game, but the second proved rather indifferent.

"From the foregoing it will be gathered that Oxford won the match by eight games to two, while two games were left drawn. The play showed, on the whole, an improvement on that of last year, and although there were no gambits, some of the games were interesting. Herr Steinitz was again requested by both Universities to adjudicate on the unfinished games. The teams were afterwards the guests of the St. George's Club at a dinner at the Criterion."

Westminster Papers, 2 Apr 1877: "There has been no lack of either incident or gossip in London Chess circles during the past month. It opened with the annual festival of the City Club, always the event of the Chess season ; that was followed by the publication of the long-deferred award of the prizes in the problem tourney of the late City Magazine, and dire rumours of impending battle between Mr. Blackburne and Herr Zukertort. To these succeeded much mental speculation in reference to the University match, anil finally, as a pleasant surprise, that interesting joust itself, while the Chess community was lost in wonder as to when and where it would be played this year. The uncertainty that existed, on that point, one so vital to the popularity and therefore the usefulness of the match, is much to be regretted. The interest of the public in the sports and pastimes of the Universities is widespread and genuine, and that feeling should be considered in the arrangements for the Chess match as it is in the case of the other games in which the undergraduates engage at this season. No doubt there were this year causes which in their operation made the provision for a suitable place of meeting in London troublesome ; although, with two important Chess clubs in the metropolis, there ought to be no difficulty in getting one or other of them to grant a favour that should involve no responsibility to the members beyond the use of their rooms and the necessary Chess-boards and pieces. These, we hope, would satisfy all the requirements of the University players; and that there should have been any obstacles in the way of providing them is perplexing, to say the least of it. The match, which was the fifth of the series, was played at the St. George's Chess Club on the 22nd ult., and, as on former occasions, fourteen players, seven on each side, paired according to their reputed skill, took part in it. Each pair was required by the conditions to play two games, but in any case the play was to be ended and the score to be taken at half-past seven in the evening. As might be expected in the circumstances, there were very few spectators, although the club was for that day thrown open to any person desirous of witnessing the play. That, we may observe, was remarkably slow, only three of the pairs succeeding in completing two games within the period fixed for the duration of the match ; and when, at half-past seven," time " was called, it was found that Oxford had achieved a hollow victory, with a score of eight to one and one game drawn."

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.

[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)]

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.

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.

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.

Francis Michael Wright (1856 - ?). 1st son of William, of Doncaster, Yorks, gent. Queen's College, matric. 28 May 1874, aged 18; exhibitioner 1874-9, B.A. (1st class, maths & physics) 1877, M.A. 1883 (Alumni). In 1881 he was an assistant master at Tonbridge Grammar School, Kent. Later taught for a year at Haileybury College, from where he emigrated to the USA in 1885, naturalised in 1890, eventually became a patent lawyer and author, based in San Francisco, California. Married Bertha Tracy Bennett (1872-1945) in abt 1895. Played in the 1875, 1877 and 1878 Varsity chess matches.

Raymond Mortimer Latham (18 June 1857 - 28 November 1939), schoolmaster. Alumni Cantabrigienses: "LATHAM, Raymond Mortimer, 1s. Mortimer Thomas [LATHAM] of Coningsby, co. Lincoln - Exeter College, matric. 15 May 1875, aged 17; B.A. & M.A. 1882. See Coll. Reg. 168." Census 1911, 2 Princes Road, Wimbledon, assistant master in public school, married Elizabeth [1887], four chn. all alive 1911 and living with him. Played in the 1877 Varsity chess match. Member of Battersea CC, 1890s, played for Surrey county.

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.

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.

Gunston,W - Louis,A [C48] BCF Major Open Richmond, 1912 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 0-0 Be7 5 Nc3 Nd4 6 Nxd4 exd4 7 e5 dxc3 8 exf6 cxb2 9 Bxb2 Bxf6 10 Re1+ Kf8 11 Ba3+ Kg8 12 Re3 h6 13 Qe2 Kh7 14 Bd3+ g6 15 Re1 d5 16 Be7 Bxe7 17 Rxe7 Rf8 18 Qh5 Qd6 19 h4 Kg7 20 Qf3 h5 21 R1e5 c6 22 Bxg6 Bg4 23 Qf4 Be6 24 Qg5 Rg8 25 R5xe6 Qxe6 26 Bxf7+ Kf8 27 Qxg8+ Kxe7 28 Bxe6 Rxg8 29 Bxg8 1-0 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.

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.

George Bertram Stocker (19 March 1856 - 9 October 1913), founder and Director of the Scholastic, Clerical, and Medical Association, Limited, 1884-1913. Alumni Cantabrigienses: "Adm. at King's, Oct. 8, 1875. S. of James, of Burnham, Bucks., and Guy's Hospital. School, Felsted. Matric. Michs. 1875; exhibitioner. Assistant Master at Mr Nash's School, Nice, France, 1877-8; at the Wick School, Brighton, 1878-80. Founder and Director of the Scholastic, Clerical, and Medical Association, Limited, 1884-1913. Married, June 2, 1887, Alice Mary, eldest dau. of Lieut.-Col. Cadman Hodgkinson. Died Oct. 9, 1913, aged 57. (Al. Felsted.)" Composed a chess problem published in the Huddersfield College Magazine (1874/5, page 60). Played in the 1877 Varsity chess match.

Joseph Shield Nicholson (9 November 1850 - 12 May 1927), economist. Professor, Political Economy, University of Edinburgh (1880-1925). Wikipedia. Biography at Edinburgh University website. "Of chess he was very fond, and he was a successful solver of the problems in the Times Literary Supplement." (Times, obit, 13 May 1927). Played in the 1874 and 1877 Varsity chess matches.

Efric Leofwin Kearney (31 August 1856 - 29 November 1913), schoolmaster, educational administrator & examiner, Esperantist. Alumni Cantabrigienses: "Adm. scholar at St. Catharine's, July 10, 1875. S. of the Rev. John Batchelor [and Ellen Wells]. B. Aug. 31, 1856, at Wimbledon, Surrey. School, Christ's Hospital. Matric. Michs. 1875; B.A. 1879; M.A. 1882. Clerk in the Civil Service Commission, 1878-81. Assistant Master at Melbourne Grammar School, Australia; at the Scotch College, Melbourne; at Ballarat Grammar School, 1882-8. Examiner for the Civil Service Commission and Scotch Education Dept., 1888-1904. Greatly interested in Esperanto, and author of a number of translations into that language [including Alice in Wonderland - JS]. Resided latterly at Putney. Died suddenly Nov. 29, 1913. (Christ's Hospital Exhibitioners; The Times, Dec. 3, 1913.)" Played in the 1877 Varsity chess match.


Not directly related to this match but of interest: from Sir Horace Plunkett's diary for Saturday 29 March 1890: "Had my massage man in the morning. In afternoon played chess match - old Oxonians vs old Cantabs. Played 2nd in team versus J.N. Keynes, whom I had played in 3 inter-university matches 12 to 14 years ago. Got a draw."

File updated

Date Notes
21 July 2020 Original upload.


All material © 2020 John Saunders