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John Saunders


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Tournament: 21st Varsity Match • Venue: British Chess Club, King Street, London • Date: Friday 24 March 1893
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1892 • Forward to 1894 • last edited: Monday December 11, 2023 11:30 PM

The 21st Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London, on Friday 24 March 1893 with Leopold Hoffer adjudicating unfinished games. Start 2.30pm, end 5.45pm. [For the first time in the series only one game per board allowed.]

1892«     1893 Varsity Chess Match     »1894
Bd Oxford University   v.   Cambridge University
1b Robert Garner Lynam (St Catherine's) 0-1 Henry Ernest Atkins (Peterhouse)
2w George Asheton Heginbottom (Pembroke) 0-1 Edward Young (Corpus Christi)
3b Philip Walsingham Sergeant (Trinity) 1-0 John Hope Percival (Trinity Hall)
4w Henry Gosse Winfield Cooper (Oriel) 0-1 Colin Edmund Campbell (Trinity Hall)
5b Rev. Ernest Walter Poynton (Exeter) 0-1 Percyvall Hart-Dyke (King's)
6w Edward Lawton (Corpus Christi) 0-1 Harold John Snowden (Queens')
7b Douglas Liston Secretan (Pembroke) 0-1 Lionel William Pelling Lewis (Peterhouse)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), (compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987); Sergeant, Philip W, A Century of Chess (London 1934, referred to in the text as PWS); BCM, April 1893, ppn 173-179; The Field, 25 March 1893, p431 & 1 April 1893, ppn 495-496; FreeBMD & other statutory records; Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. Four complete games and two part-games of the seven games played are available in the download.

BCM, April 1893, ppn 173-179: "UNIVERSITY CHESS. March has once again brought us “boat-race week,” with its various University chess matches, all of more or less interest.

"The first of these events came off on Tuesday, the 21st March, when the United Universities played their annual match with the second class of the City of London Chess Club, at the headquarters of the club, the Guildhall Tavern. Play took place in a long room, where all the twenty players a side were arranged in one line, thus leaving ample room for the spectators to move freely about. Play was announced to begin at seven o’clock, but it was some little time after that before all the boards were at work, and it then appeared that two members of the University team—Messrs. Gwinner and Newbolt—were absent, and it was arranged that the games of these two gentlemen should be counted as drawn. There was a considerable gathering of spectators, including Mr. J. Kershaw (president), Mr. Gastineau (vice-president), and many well-known City men, such as Messrs. Anger, Cutler, Cunningham, Meller, Mackay, and Wood. Mr. L. Hoffer was also amongst the spectators, as well as Mr. Van Vliet, and Mr. Blackbume was present as umpire. About half-past eight the Lord Mayor of London entered the room, and was received by the president, the vice-president, and the secretary (Mr. Geo. Adamson). His lordship spent sometime in examining the various games then in process, in many of which he seemed much interested.

"Play, in the main, was slow, no clocks being used, and this slow rate of play seems to be gaining ground in the Universities. The first victory was for the City, but matters were soon equalised, and the two teams kept well abreast, the score at one time standing at 3½ each.

"Perhaps the most interesting game was that between Mr. Hart-Dyke and Mr. Rottjer, and it was round this board that the largest number of spectators gathered. One reason for this was the fact that young Mr. Hart-Dyke is blind, but, apart from that, the game itself was full of points right through. The Lord Mayor especially watched this game for some time, and seemed greatly interested in the way that Mr. Hart-Dyke overcame his physical deprivation. I had some little conversation with Mr. Hart-Dyke after the game had ended, and he told me he had no natural aptitude for blindfold chess, but was very fond of the game. He plays from memory, but he assists his memory by the touch. It was really an interesting sight to see him play. Each square of his board is raised a little and has a hole in the centre. The pieces are provided with short pegs, which fit into these holes, and the Black pieces are distinguished from the White by a small piece of tape being attached. Now for the method of play, which is literally by touch. That is, as soon as his opponent announces his move, he lightly touches the moved piece and a piece or two around it. This he does with wonderful lightness and speed, and his long slender fingers, in gently moving over the men, seemed like the fingers of a skilled musician quickly passing over the keys of his instrument. There was no grasping or heavy feeling of the pieces; simply the light quick touch, and the trained finger-tips had done their work. Mr. Hart-Dyke played with great quickness, and his game, though a long one, was over long before many of the games played by gentlemen having their sight. The game is so good that we append it:—

"Mr. Eklund, on board No. 1, won very creditably from Mr. Gunston in a Ruy Lopez. Gunston early changed off B’s and Eklund got his QR into play with a free game. Annexed is a diagram of the game at the 18th move:— [full score from Daily News (London) - Wednesday 22 March 1893]

"When time was called, there were several games left for adjudication by Mr. Blackburne. When he had completed his task, it was found that the City had won, the score being City 11, United Universities 6."

"This is the ninth annual match between the City Seconds and the United Blues, and the City now leads by three matches, having won in 1885, 1886, 1890, 1891, 1892, and 1893; whilst the ’Varsities have won in 1887, 1888, and 1889. The City has now scored a total of 97 games and the United Universities 82.

(From the same match...)

"The following day was “boat-race day” itself, when, of course, all interest is centered on the great aquatic event, and chess, as a rule, is left “severely alone.” This year, however, there was a departure from this custom, for the match, Sussex v. United Universities, had to be played in the evening, and, as the race was not over till five, there was not much time left to get back to town and prepare for play.

"The match was played at the British Chess Club and play commenced at seven o’clock, when a considerable body of spectators was present The teams consisted of fifteen players a-side. From the first, the Sussex men got the lead, which they steadily maintained and increased. After the adjudication of unfinished games by Mr. I. Gunsberg, the full score was Sussex 10, United Universities 5.

"The third match of the week came off on Thursday, 23rd March, when a team of the United Universities encountered a team of the British Chess Club, in the club-rooms, King Street, Covent Garden. There were sixteen players a side and the attendance of spectators was good. The British put a fairly strong team in the field, embracing some of their first-rates, and hence they were heavy metal for the collegians to meet.

"Mr. Hart-Dyke, who had so cleverly won against a City man on Tuesday, again distinguished himself by beating Mr. Hanford in fine style, and this was the first game finished, thus giving the Universities the lead. But this was only for a few minutes, as Mr. Mundell and Mr. Hirsch each scored a victory for the home team, and, soon after, the games between Messrs. Woodgate and Topham, and Latter and Lawton, were drawn.

"The next decided game was one between Messrs. Trenchard and Heginbotham, wherein the latter forced the win in an ending which, at first sight, looked all over a draw. This brought the score level—3 each. Then followed two victories for the British, Mr. Guest scoring against Gunston and Ward-Higgs against Cooper. The adjudication by Messrs. Guest and Gunston (the two captains) raised the British another point ahead, making the final score British 9½, United Universities, 6½."

"The next important event of the week was the Inter-Universities match itself, which came off at the British Chess Club, King Street, on the 24th March. The handsome club-room was adorned with various flags as well as blue drapery of the hues of the two Universities. Owing, doubtless, to the fineness of the weather, there was not such a good attendance as last year, but many well-known chess-players looked in at intervals.

"Oxford was the favourite at starting from the good form the team had shown in various recent matches, and it was thought victory would be with the dark blues, or at any rate that the contest would be a very close one. But this turned out all wrong, for the Cambridge men carried all before them with a rush, and the result was the most crushing defeat ever experienced by the Oxonians, except in 1880, when Cambridge won by 12 to 1. An important innovation was made in this year's match; for the first time in these matches stop-clocks were used, and a time-limit of twenty moves per hour introduced. This had a marked improvement in the speed of the play, and certainly did not detract from the merits of the games, for several of them were really well fought out.

"The first game to be finished was at board No. 1, where Mr. Atkins represented Cambridge, against Mr. Lynam for Oxford. The latter defended a French badly, got hopelessly involved, lost two Pawns, and finally a piece by an oversight, and at once resigned. First score thus went to Cambridge, but Oxford almost immediately scored a victory at board No. 3. where Mr. Sergeant defeated Mr. Percival. The opening was a Cunningham Gambit, the White K going to B sq in reply to 5 B—K5 ch, but a little later on Mr. Percival got into difficulties; he had not played out his Q P, and his game was greatly constrained. [full score available]

"This victory made the scores level, but it was doomed to be the only one for the dark blues, for all the remaining games fell to Cambridge. The next game finished was at board No. 4, where Mr. Campbell defeated Mr. Cooper, who lost ground in the opening— a French—and in the ending was left with two Knights against two Bishops, and the church was able to take easy tithe of the opponent’s Pawns, and so win.

"Mr. Snowden defeated Mr. Lawton, who lost a piece for two Pawns in the opening, played well in the mid-game, having a draw in view, but overlooked a check at the end, which lost him a Rook and forced him to resign. The last game to be concluded before expiration of time for play was at board No. 2, where Mr. Young defeated Mr. Heginbotham, who in an end-game was left with one Pawn against three, and therefore resigned.

"There remained two unfinished games for adjudication when time was called. Mr. Hoffer, who was umpire, speedily disposed of these, pronouncing both to be wins for Cambridge. At board No. 5, Mr. Hart-Dyke, the blind player, had played with great accuracy against Mr. Poynton, and had ultimately won a Pawn, but to the casual eye the game looked drawish, but closer inspection showed that Mr. Hart-Dyke's game was so superior to that of Mr. Poynton that defeat was not to be staved off.

"At board No. 7 Mr. Secretan early lost a Pawn, but defended very stubbornly, nevertheless he got a very cramped game, and towards the end the position shown above appeared. [full score available] Mr. Hoffer inspecting the game he pointed out that the simple move Kt x P was sufficient to win. This brought the score up to Cambridge 6, Oxford 1."

"This is the twenty-first match between the two Universities, and Cambridge now leads by 14 matches to 6, with 1 drawn. After conclusion of play, the playing teams and friends were entertained at dinner by the members of the British Chess Club."

The Field, 25 March 1893, p431 (by Leopold Hoffer): "THE UNIVERSITIES CHESS MATCH. The twenty-first annual match between the Universities was played yesterday at the British Chess Club. It promised to be of more than usual interest, as the result was to a great extent doubtful. On former occasions the initiated have considered the issue a foregone conclusion for Cambridge, but this time Oxford have shown, during the trial mutches against the City and the British Chess clubs, much improved form.

"For some time there was still no indication as to the ultimate winners, for no sooner had Atkins won his game for Cambridge, than Sergeant scored a victory for Oxford, whilst the other games stood over. Soon afterwards, however, the advantage for Cambridge became more and more accentuated, and Mr Sergeant's proved the isolated victory. When time was called Mr Hoffer adjudicated two unfinished games between Hart-Dyke and Poynton and Lewis and Secretan in favour of Cambridge.

"The conditions this year were somewhat modified. The use of clocks was compulsory, and, instead of two games, only one game per pair was to be played.

"The match commenced at 2.30, and play ceased at 5.45. Cambridge having won the toss, they had the advantage of the first move on four boards, whilst Oxford had it on three boards only."

The Field, 1 April 1893, p495 (by Leopold Hoffer): "THE UNIVERSITIES MATCH. We give three of the games from the annual Universities match in full, and a review of the others, so that an opinion as to the merits of the match may be formed. Cambridge are the victors by an unexpected majority of six games to one, but the intrinsic value of the games they have won does not justify such a result.

"The game won upon its merits is that of Atkins over Lynam. The latter selected a variation of the French Defence, which he would have lost against a much inferior player than Mr Atkins, who is one of the foremost English amateurs.

"Young, the Cantab, on Board No. 2, had the inferior game in the opening, and Heginbottom, the Oxonian, should have won it with ordinary care. In the match against the British, Heginbottom beat Trenchard in good style, and he had an opportunity of scoring a victory for the Dark Blues in the annual match also.

"Sergeant won his game [against Percival], and we have alluded below to the progress he has made since last year’s match.

"Cooper, the Oxonian, on Board No. 4, treated the attack of his opponent’s French Defence on wrong principles, and his was therefore a legitimate loss. But he is, nevertheless, a promising player, for in the match against the City he won his game in fine style of an opponent at least as strong as the Cantab [Campbell].

"Lawton, on Board No. 5, had also a winning advantage in the opening, the Cantab having given up a pawn unnecessarily; but he failed to take advantage of it.

"Poynton played really a very good game, and the ending was given reluctantly against him in adjudication. Having lost a pawn, he won it back again, and at one stage he was even a pawn ahead, and might have probably secured the game shortly before time was called. In justice to Hart-Dyke, however, it should be mentioned that he is unfortunately compelled to play without sight of board and men, and that is no slight odds to give to a player of his own strength. Mr Hart-Dyke is a talented player, and he won three games for his University in four of the matches he was engaged.

"Secretan and Lewis are about evenly matched, and it is simply a toss-up who should win. Therefore, judging upon the merits of the games, Oxford should have won the match by four games to three, or at least drawn it."

"Review of the Games

"Board No. 1.— [full score given]

"Board No. 2.—This game, opened by G. A. Heginbottom (Oxford) against E. Young (Cambridge), was a Three Knights game. Since the opening moves were not correctly played, we give them in order to point out to the players their omissions:

"White lost a piece on the 16th move, but afterwards he made a sturdy resistance, and the middle game was very interesting; but Mr Young kept the piece, and won the game in fifty moves.

"Mr Heginbottom has not played up to his form by any means, for the previous day, in the match against the British Chess Club, he defeated no less an opponent than Mr Trenchard, and that in first class style.

"Board No. 3.—This game between J. H. Percival (Cambridge) and P. W. Sergeant (Oxford) was a Cunningham Gambit, in which Mr Sergeant got the better game, by reason of knowing tbe opening better than his opponent. Mr Percival, as first player, never moved his QP. Queens were exchanged on the 12th move, and to save a knight which was in danger of being lost. White had to sacrifice his KKtP... [full score available]

"Mr Sergeant has much improved both in knowledge and style since last year.

"Board No. 4.—C. E. Campbell (Cambridge) adopted the French Defence, and in spite of playing after 3 Kt to QB3, 3...PxP, he
managed, not so much through his own exertion, than through the inferior play of his opponent, to remain with two bishops against two knights after about fifteen moves. The Oxonian got also an isolated king's pawn, and these disadvantages were quite enough to lose him the game. On the 24th more he lost the isolated KP; but he fought on bravely, however, for forty-seven moves ere he resigned. After the clever game he played in the match against the City Club, we should have expected Mr G. H. Cooper [sic - should be Henry Gosse Winfield Cooper] to have made a better stand.

"Board No. 5.—[full score given]

"Board No. 6.—[partial score with Hoffer's comments available]

"Board No. 7.—[full score given]

"The Banquet.—The teams dined with the members of the Brltish Chess Club at 8 o’clock. Mr Geo. Newnes, M.P., was in the chair, and amongst the guests were the Marquis of Carmarthen, M.P., the Hon. Arthur Brand, M.P., Sir John Puleston, Mr W[illiam]. J. Ingram, M.P., Mr H[arry]. S. Foster, M.P., Mr H[enry]. W. Lucy ("Toby, M.P.") and others.

"After the loyal toasts, Mr Thos. Hewitt proposed "Both Houses of Parliament," and the Marquis of Carmarthen and the Hon. Arthur Brand replied. Mr Newnes proposed the toast of the evening, “The Universities," and the two captains, Mr Percival for Cambridge and Mr Lynam for Oxford, replied. The Oxonian was warmly applauded for his entertaining speech. Mr W. H. Cubison proposed "The Press," and Mr W. J. Ingram, M.P., replied. Sir John Puleston proposed "The Past Captains ofthe Universities," and Mr [Francis] Newbolt responded. Mr Newbolt, who is well known as an excellent speaker, was in his happiest vein, and conceded by saying that in his time the Oxford captains did not make such good speeches, but they played better chess. A smoking concert concluded the day's proceedings, which passed off more successfully than ever."

Morning Post, 27 March 1893: "The new policy adopted by the University players during their Metropolitan campaign of playing in combination against such strong societies as the City and the British Chess Clubs and the Sussex Association is a great improvement on the previous custom by which Oxford was playing a match with one club, while Cambridge was encountering another. The allied Universities make a formidable combination, which renders it necessary for their competitors to put a strong team into the field. Although the Universities did not succeed in defeating any of the great organisations that they met last week, the form that they displayed was highly creditable. A score of 9 to 11 aginst the City Club was a good performance, although the London Club did not play its leading representatives. With Sussex the Universities were not so successful, being defeated by 10 to 5, but some allowance must be made for a team that played immediately after returning from the Boat Race. The match against the British Chess Club next day was very well fought, the Universities only being defeated by 9½ to 6½.

"Cambridge gained an easy victory by six games to one in the inter-University match, although the form previously displayed by the Oxonians had led to the expectation of a much closer contest. The Cantabs undoubtedly have in Mr. Atkins a player of first-class amateur strength, as well as two representatives of very high promise in Mr. Young and Mr. Hart Dyke. The ability of the latter is the more remarkable on account of his affliction, and it is likely enough that if he pursues the practice of chess he may develop into a simultaneous blindfold player of great skill. Oxford has three very capable and promising players in Mr. Lynam, Mr. Higginbottom, and Mr. Sergeant. There is no reason, indeed, to doubt that the University Chess Clubs will, as heretofore, continue to supply many of our strongest amateurs."

1893 Universities Trial Matches

Tuesday 21 March - Combined Universities 6, City of London 2nds 11
Wednesday 22 March - Combined Universities 5, Sussex 10
Thursday 23 March - Combined Universities 6½, British CC 9½

N.B. There was no Oxford Past v. Cambridge Past match in 1893. This series of matches resumed in 1894. However, there was the following match between Past and Present Oxford players...

Past Oxonians v Oxford University, Wednesday 6 December 1893, Oxford

Bd Past Oxonians   v.   Oxford University
1 Rev. Charles Edward Ranken (Wadham) ½-½ Dr Robert Garner Lynam (St Catherine's)
2 Rev. Francis John Eld (St John's) ½-½ George Asheton Heginbottom (Pembroke)
  Rev. Francis John Eld (St John's) ½-½ Philip Walsingham Sergeant (Trinity)
3 Rev. William Ernest Bolland (Merton) ½-1½ John Henry Weatherall (Exeter)
4 Arthur Schomberg (Oriel) 0-1 Edward Lawton (Corpus Christi)
5 Charles Cotterill Lynam (Hertford) 1-0 Henry Gosse Winfield Cooper (Oriel)
6 Rev. Edward Ilbert Crosse (Exeter) 1-1 Harold Northway Robbins (Corpus Christi)
7 Kirsopp Lake (Lincoln) 1-0 T W Wilson (Keble, matric. 1893)

London Evening Standard - Monday 11 December 1893, page 6: "A match was played on Wednesday between Past Oxonians and Oxford University, and resulted in a draw, each side scoring five points."

1893 Oxford Past v Oxford Present
London Evening Standard - Monday 11 December 1893, page 6

1893 Oxford Past v Oxford Present
BCM, January 1894, p7

Source: London Evening Standard - Monday 11 December 1893, page 6; BCM, January 1894, p7. I have had to interpret some of the data so have included scans of the originals for reference. Note, two games were played on three of the boards. The Field, 16 December 1893, makes it clear that Rev. F J Eld (BCM has correct spelling) played against both Higinbottom and Sergeant on board two. "Worcester" after Rev. F J Eld's name indicates his place of residence (he was headmaster of King's School, Worcester) rather than the Oxford college. "Melksham" after Schomberg's name clearly indicates he was Somerset-dwelling Arthur and not his London resident brother Reginald. The bottom board remains a puzzle as to why Lake, a current Oxford player—he played in the 1895 Varsity match—should have turned out for the Past team; and I've yet to find more details for T W Wilson (Keble, matr.1893). Perhaps there was a mix-up and Wilson was the Past player who defeated current player Lake? However, The Field, Evening Standard and BCM all have the result as given here. Perhaps Lake was making up the numbers for the Past team.

File updated

Date Notes
7 April 2021 Original upload.


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