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John Saunders


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Tournament: 8th Varsity Match • Venue: St. George's Chess Club, 20 King Street, London • Date: Thursday 18 March 1880
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The 8th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St. George's Chess Club, King Street, St. James's, London, on Thursday 18 March 1880 with Wilhelm Steinitz adjudicating unfinished games. Start time: 2pm, end time 6.30pm. Time limit: 20 moves per hour.

1879«     1880 Varsity Chess Match     »1881
Bd Oxford University Game 1 Game 2 Cambridge University
1b Walter Montague Gattie (Christ Church) 0-1 0-1 William Hewison Gunston (St John's)
2w Edward Herring Kinder (Brasenose) 0-1 ½-½ James Fearn Sugden (Trinity Hall)
3b Robert Arthur Germaine (Brasenose) 0-1 0-1 Francis Parker Carr (St Catharine's)
4w Charles Taylor (Christ Church) 0-1 - Frank Morley (King's)
5b Robert George Hunt (Merton) 0-1 0-1 Reginald Colebrooke Reade (King's)
6w Charles Scott Malden (Trinity) 0-1 ½-½ Symons Sympson Tovey (Trinity)
7b Barton Reginald Vaughan Mills (Christ Church) 0-1 0-1 Walter Arthur Atmore (St John'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. 4 of the 13 games played are available in the download.

The Field, 20 March 1880 (probably written by Wilhelm Steinitz): "THE INTER-UNIVERSITY CHESS MATCH. In a modest and unassuming manner, appropriate to the Universities for the ascendancy in the game of chess passed off on Thursday last, in the privacy of the St. George's Chess Club. According to the judgment of connoisseurs, before starting the Cantabs had the best prospects of victory, though the exact organisation of their team was not known until shortly before the commencement of the contest. The members of the Cambridge University Chess Club were known to be much more numerous than their adversaries, and they had the great advantage of having measured their forces against the great winner of the Paris tournament, who recently paid them a visit. The Cantabs had given an excellent account of their talents in their trial against the celebrated blindfold player, who could not obtain more than an even score in his performance at Cambridge. Their representatives included three competitors new to the public, but possessing the fullest confidence of their party, which, as it turned out, was well deserved, though at the outset the new accessions raised some doubt in the opinion of experts, when the Oxonians marshalled to the battle the tried team of last year (only slightly altered in the order of strength), which had on that occasion lost the contest with the honourable minority of only one game.

"Under all the circumstances, the final result of the match—which gave a hollow victory for the Cantabs, who scored eleven won games and two draws, without a single loss—must have taken even the victors themselves by surprise. Small influences often cause great effects, and the superior training of the Cantabs, opposed to the want of practice on the part of their adversaries, may in some measure account for such an extraordinary success. It is also due to state that, with the exception of last year's contest, all the previous Inter-University chess matches were decided by large majorities for the winning party. Nevertheless, such a one-sided issue is likely to remain as singular in the annals of chess contests as it undoubtedly will appear on the present occasion.

"The match commenced a few minutes after two o'clock, under the usual rules, which had only been subjected to slight modifications by consent of the two captains, a time limit of twenty moves per hour was added to the conditions; the maximum number of games to be played between each pair was fixed at two; a quarter of an hour's adjournment was to be allowed at four o’clock, and the termination of the contest to take place at half-past six.

"The toss fell to Cambridge, whose representatives had therefore the first move on four boards in the first round. The two games of Board No. 1 will be found below. The opponents were the same as last year, but the Oxonian did not show good form in the conduct of the defence, while his opponent pursued his attack with steadiness and caution, until at last an opportunity arose for winning a piece, which Gunston promptly seized, and obtained the first victory of the contest about ten minutes to four. The second game, which was commenced after the adjournment, lasted till shortly after six o'clock.

"At Board No. 2 Kinder offered the Q gambit, which was declined, and both parties turned their games into a Q fianchetto, the defence for a long time imitating the first player’s moves. About the eleventh move the Oxonian left one of his centre pawns unguarded, which Sugden won, forcing shortly afterwards an exchange of queens. Kinder's game gradually grew worse, until on the twentieth move he was threatened with the unavoidable loss of the clear exchange. The Oxonian elected to give up a B for a P, but without in the least succeeding in altering the unfavourable aspect of his position. He had ultimately to succumb on the forty second move, shortly before the adjournment.

"In the second game, a Sicilian defence, Kinder, by a clever manoeuvre, gained a P from his opponent, who had lost a move in the opening. He simultaneously effected an exchange of queens and doubled two adverse pawns, isolated on the c-file. He, however, did not press his advantage sufficiently, and made some injudicious exchanges which enabled the opponent to come out with a Kt against B in the ending, and subsequently to dissolve the weak doubled pawn. The game lasted till the time fixed for the termination of the match and when the umpire, Mr Steinitz, was called to adjudicate upon it, it presented the position given below on the diagram.

"On Board No. 3 Germaine lost a clear pawn on the fourth move of the defence in the Roy Lope [sic], having overlooked that the opponent had already protected the e-pawn with the N, he played 4.a3 and Carr answered by exchanging knights, thus doubling the adverse pawns besides coming out with a P plus. The Cantab steadily increased his advantage, and compelled his opponent to resign about four o’clock. In the second round the Oxonian played an irregular Giuoco Piano with Qe2 on the 4th move, but allowed his opponent early to take the attack in hand, which the Cantab was not slow to avail himself of. The Oxonian tried to relieve himself by a counter-attack at the sacrifice of some pawns, but failed to make the least impression. His game became gradually worse with four minus, while his opponent pressed upon him with two combined passed pawns which had already crossed the sixth line, and at half-past five o'clock he resigned the hopeless task of further defence. Carr, who had played sixth last year, well deserved his promotion.

"On Board No. 4 the Cantabs had not arrived at the commencement of the match, and, after a quarter of an hour's grace, his sandglass was set running until Morley put in an appearance about ten minutes to three o'clock. Morley is a new competitor, but a player of excellent promise, to judge from his performance in the even tournament of the Cambridge University Chess Club, where he obtained chief honours, after beating every one of his opponents, thirteen in number, without losing or drawing a single game. He declined the Evans Gambit in the defence, but was rather flurried and hasty in the opening, having to make up for lost time and to play twenty moves within half an hour. He acquitted himself of his task, but only at the cost of position and of a clear P. He, however, began to recover towards the middle part of the game, owing to the remissness of his opponent, who did not press the attack with sufficient energy. At the 27th move the Cantab effected the brilliant sacrifice of a R, whereby he was enabled to win the adverse Q for R and B. Taylor after that defended himself very well considering the odds against him, and the Oxonian made the final issue doubtful for some time. The game lasted all through the contest, and had at last to be submitted to the decision of the umpire in the following position.

"On Board No. 5 Hunt, as second player, adopted Philidor's defence, but left himself open to the loss of a piece in two moves, already on the 6th move. He struggled after that with some ingenuity against heavy odds, and actually had an opportunity on the 24th move to recover his piece, but missed it. Reade then played very steadily. and about four o'clock had obtained a decisively winning position. In the second round the Oxonian adopted the Scotch Gambit, but could not recover the P sacrificed, and by some weak play allowed the opponent a strong attack, which the Cantab took vigorously in hand, and ultimately the latter had won a clear K, while Hunt’s pieces on the Q side were all shut up. The game ended at a quarter to six in favour of the Cantab.

"On Board No. 6 Malden, who had opened the Four Kts game, had obtained a slight advantage in the position, but lost his Q clean for a Kt on the 21st move by an oversight. His defeat became soon a certainty, though he struggled on to the 34th move. Tovey mated him at last, shortly after the adjournment. In the second game the Oxonian adopted a Two Kts defence, which was spun out without the least loss on either side until the termination of the match, and the umpire had no hesitation to declare it a draw, as the positions were also quite equal.

"On Board No. 7 Mills defended the Ruy Lopez, and held an even positon after exchanging queens, and up to the ending, in which however he lost first a P by an oversight, which broke up his position and made his pawns untenable. Atmore ultimately forced his opponent to resign at about five minutes to five o'clock. The second game was indifferently opened on both sides. The Oxonian left a P en prise from the fourth move, which his opponent would not take until he was almost forced to it. The Cantab after this played with considerable skill, and augmented his position until his opponent fell into a trap, whereby he lost his Q. The following list contains the detailed final score, and the pairing of this remarkable contest, the result of which leaves Cambridge two matches ahead in the record of annual contest.

"A select number of members and visitors attended the contest, and the company included Gen. Vvall [Vialls], Col. Law, Capt. Beaumont, the Hon. Lindsay, the Revs. Messrs Crichton, Lewis, Ranken, Wayte, Messrs Boursot, Cattley, Foster, Francis, Gumpel, Hoffer, Kunwald, Minchin, W. N. Strode, Thornton, Wyvill, and Zukertort.

"At eight o'clock, the University teams were entertained at dinner at the Criterion by the members of the St. George's Chess Club; and about forty gentlemen sat down, with Mr W. N. Strode in the chair. The toast of the evening—the health of the Cambridge and Oxford University Chess Club, coupled with the names of their respective presidents—Messrs Reade and Taylor, was received with enthusiasm, and the two presidents were warmly greeted before and after their response.

"The Hon. Mr Lindsay proposed the health of the Chess Masters, coupled with the names of Messrs Steinitz and Zukertort, who returned thanks. Mr Minchin proposed the health of the Champion of the St. George's Chess Club, the Rev. W. Wayte. The toast of the Chess Press, proposed by Mr Francis, coupled with the names of the Rev. C. E. Ranken and Herr Zukertort, who severally replied, and other toasts followed. In the various speeches the University guests were welcomed by their hosts, while the University players warmly expressed their thanks for the hospitality bestowed upon them."

[Chess-Monthly, April 1880, p.225-6] THE INTER-UNIVERSITY CHESS MATCH. - The annual contest for supremacy in our intellectual pastime is now a permanent institution with the sister Universities. For many years past Oxford and Cambridge had an annual match which was fought out by correspondence - a lengthy and cumbrous proceeding, To Mr. Steinitz belongs the merit of having suggested (in 1872) to the Presidents of the University Chess Clubs, Messrs, Ed. Anthony and J. de Soyres, the advisability of substituting a match over the board, to be played in London during the University week. The first three matches - '73, '74, and '75 - were played under the auspices of the City of London Chess Club; in 1876 the Universities were the guests of the West-End Chess Club; since 1877 the St. George's Chess Club is the recognised battlefield of these modest duels.

"The last match took place on Thursday, the 18th of March; play commenced at about two o'clock, and proceeded - save a quarter of an hour's interruption at four - until 6.30 p.m. The public at large does not take the same interest in the Chess match as in the other contests of the Universities, the number of Caissa's disciples being limited; but any sport of the two great Universities is always watched with eagerness, as from these two national centres of learning are recruited our future statesmen and generals, legislators and lawyers. Notwithstanding that the match was played in a private club, the attendance of members and visitors was numerous. We noticed Gen. Vialls, Col. Law, Maj. Ross, Capt. Beaumont, Revs. Messrs. Crichton, Lewis, Ranken, and Wayte, Messrs. Boursot, Burroughs, Cattley, Foster, Francis, Gümpel, Hoffer, Kunwald, Lindsay, Minchin, Salter, Simpson, Strode, Wyvill, Zukertort, &c.

"By mutual consent a time-limit of twenty moves an hour was adopted; the toss for the first move was won by the Light Blues. At starting the clocks and sand-glasses seemed to embarrass the players, but they soon became accustomed to a practice which was evidently novel to many of them. The result is so far unsatisfactory, as the Oxonians failed to score a single game.

Three of the games, not being finished at 6.30, were adjudicated by Mr. Steinitz, who acted as umpire, as heretofore. The present victory places Cambridge two matches ahead. It does not require any great perspicacity of mind to find the reason of such a great defeat. We do not think that anyone ever arrived at the position of a first-rate Chess-player, however great his natural capacity may have been, unless backed up by the most persistent industry; nor have we ever heard of a Chess-player being born with a silver Pawn in his mouth. Cambridge's victory was anticipated and predicted as certain by Zukertort, after he had tried conclusions with the Light Blues during his recent visit. A careful perusal of the thirteen games - two will be found in another part of this number - told us plainly the main reason of the complete breakdown of the dark colours; absolute want of practice, as the fact proves that most of the games were conducted fairly up to a certain point and then thrown away by a blunder.

"At eight o'clock the teams of the Universities dined with the members of the St. George's Club in a special room at the Criterion Restaurant. About forty gentlemen sat down to an excellent repast, W. N. Strode, Esq., in the chair. After the usual loyal toast, the welfare of the Cambridge and Oxford Chess Clubs was proposed by the Chairman and responded to by the respective Presidents, Messrs. Reade and Taylor. Their spirited replies were received with general applause. Mr. Lindsay proposed, in a humorous speech, the health of the Masters of the Game, coupled with the names of Messrs. Steinitz and Zukertort who expressed their thanks. The toast of the Press could certainly not have been entrusted to a better advocate than Mr. Francis, who spoke most feelingly and eloquently, showing himself to be perfectly familiar with the subject. Mr. Francis spoke of the CHESS-MONTHLY in terms which are certainly above our deserts, and called finally upon Messrs. Zukertort and Ranken to reply. The former invited his senior literary confrère to take the lead, and Messrs. Ranken and Zukertort returned thanks accordingly. Mr, Minchin proposed the health of the Champion of the St. George's Club (Rev. Mr. Wayte) in flattering terms, and the rev. gentleman returned thanks. Several other toasts followed, in which the members expressed a hope of having the pleasure of entertaining the Universities on future occasions. Mr. Minchin dwelt on the fact that the Universities Chess Clubs were the chief recruiting ground of the St. George's. The company separated, after a very pleasant evening, at 11.30 p.m.

Huddersfield College Magazine, 1880: "OXFORD v. CAMBRIDGE. (FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.) The annual Chess match between the two Universities took place on Thursday, March 18th [1880], being, as usual, on the Thursday before the boat race. The rooms of the St. George's Chess Club in St. James's were the scene of the contest, as that club very kindly invites the members of the University Clubs to contend in its rooms and also invites them to a sumptuous dinner when the match is over.

"The Oxford team was the same as that of 1879, while in the Cambridge team there were a few alterations. Unfortunately for the Dark Blues two or three of their team were not in practice but no one present anticipated such an ending to the match as actually occurred. The Cambridge men on the other hand had been making strenuous exertions to render their players thoroughly efficient, and for that purpose they invited during the past term that celebrated player Dr. Zukertort to come to Cambridge and play blindfold against the members of the club who were about to take part in the University Match. The Cantabs then gave such a good account of themselves against this world-famed player that they were considered by the "Cognoscenti" to have a good chance of success.

"On entering the rooms of the St. George's Club the University men were most kindly received by the members and their courteous secretary, Mr. Minchin. One felt slightly awed at the sight of the large boards with the somewhat huge men set out in readiness, and at the appearance of the hour-glasses, minions of the "common enemy." The members of the respective teams looked anxious but prepared to fight their hardest for their respective colours. The Cambridge men wore in their button-holes a rosette of light blue ribbon with a small medallion in the centre, but the Oxonians were content with a narrow strip of dark blue.

"The following list contains the names of the players, the pairing off, and the final score in this remarkable contest. [see above] The Oxford reserve man was Mr. J. F. Welsh (Ch. Ch.) Cambridge this year brought no reserve man, which was somewhat unwise as their representative at No. 4 board did not put in an appearance until almost an hour late.

"The match commenced shortly after two o'clock under the usual rules. This year, however, a time limit of twenty moves per hour was added to the conditions, but at some of the boards this was not strictly adhered to. At one board in particular your correspondent always found both sandglasses lying inactive when he had occasion to pass the board. The maximum number of games to be played was two, and at only one board was the second game not begun. At four there was to be an interval of a quarter-of-an-hour for 'afternoon tea and the contest was fixed to conclude at half-past six punctually. Herr Steinitz, as usual, kindly acted as umpire and he adjudicated upon the games which were unfinished at 6-30. The conditions were that on the first two boards a winning position must be attainable within six moves in order to give the game as a victory to either side. Cambridge won the toss and consequently had first move on four boards, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7.

At Board No. 1, Messrs, Gunston and Gattie began a Four Knights' Game in which White by a steady attack at length won a piece and the game at 3-50, just before the interval. At Board No. 2 Game No. 1 also went against Oxford. Kinder began by offering the Queen s Gambit which Black declined. Shortly afterwards Black secured a centre pawn and forced the exchange of Queens and won the game shortly before the interval. The opening at No. 3 Board was the Ruy Lopez, but the Oxonian made only a weak defence. This was to be accounted for by the fact that he left his bed to play in the match. This game was won by Cambridge before four. The Cantab at No. 4 Board had not arrived at two o'clock. After a quarter-of-an-hour's grace his sand-glass was set running. He eventually arrived at ten minutes to three but was naturally flurried at first as he was compelled to hurry his moves. Taylor played the Evaus Gambit which Morley declined, but he lost a pawn and seemed to have the worse position, but at the 27th move by brilliant play he won White's Queen for Rook and Bishop. The Oxford President now played splendidly and many of the spectators hoped that he might pull off the game for the Dark Blues who had not yet been successful in any. At the adjournment the game was unfinished. The first game at No. 5 was of no striking interest and Cambridge had won her fourth game before four. At No. 6, Malden opened with the Four Knights' game, and had obtained a slight advantage when by an unfortunate mistake he lost his Queen for a Knight and ultimately, of course, the game. At No. 7, Atmore played the Ruy Lopez and at the adjournment the game was still proceeding, as contrary to the agreement these two players agreed to continue.

"When the interval took place the match looked already a victory for Cambridge. The Cantabs had won five games to the Oxonians' none. Several eminent Chess-players were now to be noticed in the room, Revs. C. E. Ranken, and W. Wayte, Messrs. Hoffer, Minchin, Strode, Lindsay and Zukertort amongst others. The exhausted players attacked the tea, coffee and bread and butter with a vigour which augured well for a stout contest in the second round; and, as the writer faintly hoped, a victory even yet for the Dark Blues.

"About 4-15 the players returned to their boards to begin second games or continue games already in progress. At the first board Gattie played the Queen's Gambit which his Cambridge opponent declined. The game was stoutly contested and was finished a short time before the close of the match. Round this board a political discussion promoted by other players whose games were finished was indulged in, and the Oxonian frequently joined in to good purpose. Meanwhile another game had been lost by the Dark Blues at No. 3, where Germaine having opened with an irregular Giuoco Piano soon became four pawns minus and finally resigned at 5-30. At No. 5 Board also, the second game went in favour of Cambridge, making the score Cambridge 8, Oxford 0. By this time Cambridge had won the first game at No. 7. The second game was a ding-dong affair until the Oxonian's Queen was caught in a trap and his game lost. The score now had assumed a remarkable proportion, Cambridge having won ten games and Oxford none. During all this time and right up to the close of the match a magnificent contest was taking place at board No. 4. Taylor, who had Rook, Bishop, and Knight to Queen and Knight, played up with great steadiness and at one time looked like winning, but the odds in the hands of a player like his opponent proved himself to be were too much for him, and when time was called and the game stood in the following position, Steinitz had no difficulty in deciding in favour of the light blue. Of course they played no second game. There now only remain to be noticed the second games at boards 2 and 6 both of which were given by the Umpire as draws; According to the conditions a winning position must be attainable in six moves. This in the opinion of the Umpire was not possible and he rightly gave the game at board 2 as drawn. The following was the position at the close, Kinder having one clear pawn to the good. The second game at No. 6 was a very even affair, the pieces and position being entirely equal and the Umpire directly declared it a draw.

"The result as given out by the Secretary, Mr. Minchin, was CAMBRIDGE, 11; OXFORD, 0; DRAWN, 2. It is to be hoped that next year a more equal contest may be witnessed as in 1879 when Cambridge won by only one game. The result of this year's match makes Cambridge two matches ahead.

"At eight o'clock the annual dinner of the St. George's, to which the united teams and reserve were hospitably invited, took place at the Criterion, Mr. W. N. Strode, of Chislehurst, in the chair, having the victorious President Mr. Reade on his right, and the Dark Blue President on his left. About forty gentlemen sat down to the dinner, which was an excellent one in every respect. The usual loyal toasts having been heartily received the Chairman proposed the toast of the evening, " The Oxford and Cambridge Universities' Chess Clubs," coupled with the names of Messrs. Reade and Taylor. The Presidents were loudly cheered when they replied and they both spoke well. Mr. Reade touched upon the question of Chess being made too much of and ended by expressing disbelief in such an idea. Mr. Taylor, in the course. of an able speech, humorously compared the training of the Cantabs for the Chess match to the trial of the 'Varsity eight with a scratch crew. The Hon. Mr. Lindsay* proposed the health of the "Chess Masters" coupled with the names of Messrs. Steinitz and Zukertort who suitably responded. Mr. Francis proposed the "Chess Press" coupled with the names of Messrs. Zukertort and Ranken who in their replies described some of the difficulties which Chess Editors had to encounter. Mr. Minchin proposed the health of the Rev. W. Wayte, champion of the St. George's, which was well received. The last toast was the health of Mr. Minchin, the courteous secretary of the St. George's, proposed by Mr. Mills (Oxford), who expressed the thanks of the University teams for the warmth of their reception.
Thus ended the Inter-Universities' Chess Match of 1880. That of 1881 cannot be more pleasant but may it be better contested! J. F. W. [presumably John Francis Welsh, Huddersfield born, who played in the 1881 match and later become Bishop of Trinidad, dying in 1916]

* This gentleman [William Alexander Lindsay (1846-1926), barrister and would-be MP] is now gallantly contesting the borough of Huddersfield against heavy odds. We have had the pleasure of witnessing his play, which is of a very high order, with some of the leading Huddersfield amateurs. Mr. Lindsay has very kindly promised us some of his best London games for the HCM - EDITOR.

Other Information

George Courtney Vialls (26 February 1824 - 10 November 1893), spectator at match. Alumni Cantabrigienses: "Adm. pens. (age 17) at Trinity [Cambridge], May 22, 1841. [Youngest] s. of [the Rev.] Thomas [Vialls]. B. [Feb. 26, 1824], at Twickenham, Middlesex. School, Westminster. Matric. Michs. 1841. Ensign, 95th Foot (the Derbyshire Regt.), 1843; Lieut., 1846; Captain, 1853; Brevet Major, 1856; Brevet Lieut.-Colonel, 1858; Brevet Colonel, 1865; Major-General, 1870. C.B., 1877. Served in the Crimea (severely wounded at the battle of Inkerman), and in the Indian Mutiny. Retired, 1882. Married, June 8, 1850, Sophie Louisa, dau. of Sir Henry Thomas Oakes, Bart. Died Nov. 10, 1893, at Teddington; buried there... (Record of Old Westminsters; Boase, III. 1094; Army Lists.)"

Nathaniel William John Strode (1816 - 26 February 1889) was a wealthy financier and patron of chess. He provided a link between the chess world and the French royal family when Napoleon III went into exile after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, giving them use of his erstwhile home, Camden Place in Chislehurst. See Kings, Commoners and Knaves by Edward Winter, Russell Enterprises 1999), ppn 325-327; and Winter's (online) J. H. Zukertort's Alleged Accomplishments article. Strode played in consultation with Prince Louis Napoleon and Baron Corvisart against Zukertort in Chislehurst in 1878. Strode's forenames and forename initials are given in a variety of orders in different sources, e.g. J. N., N. W. J., W. N. J., etc.

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Date Notes
23 July 2020 Original upload.


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