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John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: 25th Varsity Match • Venue: British Chess Club, 37 King Street, London • Date: Friday 2 April 1897
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1896 • Forward to 1898 • last edited: Monday April 18, 2022 1:25 AM

The 25th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London, on Friday 2 April 1897.

1896«     1897 Varsity Chess Match     »1898
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1w Edward George Spencer-Churchill (Magdalen) 1-0 Edward Alexander (Aleister) Crowley (Trinity)
2b Edward Lawton (Corpus Christi) 1-0 William Vawdrey Naish (Emmanuel)
3w Richard Arthur Jenkins (Brasenose) ½-½ Richard Battersby (St Catherine's)
4b Gilbert Fraser (Corpus Christi) 0-1 Creassey Edward Cecil Tattersall (Trinity)
5w Arthur Hereford Wykeham George (New) 0-1 Lachlan McLean (King's)
6b George Herbert Stoker (Corpus Christi) 1-0 Archibald Leo Stainer (St Catharine's)
7w Robert Hancock (Exeter) ½-½ Alexander Fotheringham (Emmanuel)

Main 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); Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. Four games (boards 1, 2, 3 and 5) are available in the download; other boards, opening moves only.

(1) Club presidents Spencer-Churchill (Oxford) and Crowley (Cambridge)
(2) 2.00pm start
(3) Match umpire ... [will add the name later]

Morning Post - Saturday 3 April 1897: "The annual chess match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities was contested yesterday afternoon at the British Chess Club, King-street, Covent-garden, and excited much interest among a number of members and visitors, who watched the games with close attention. If anything the form shown in the trial matches indicated that Oxford was slightly the superior team, and so the event proved, although the difference in strength between the members of the two Universities was not so marked as to prevent a close competition. Mr. Spencer-Churchill, who led the Oxford men. encountered Mr. Crowley, the Cambridge captain, and obtained a very good position against a Petroff Defence. Mr. Crowley, after the exchange of Queens, somewhat injudiciously took his King out of play by castling on the Queen’s side, and the Oxford man thereupon obtained an opportunity of winning two Pawns. This was of course sufficient to make his victory secure, but Mr. Crowley soon afterwards extinguished his hopes of a draw by allowing his King and Rook to be forked. Oxford thus scored the first victory, and quickly followed it up by another on the second board, where Mr. Lawton, after defending a Queen's Pawn Opening, got into difficulties, but in consequence of his opponent, Mr. Naish, missing the opportunity of playing 24. B x P, which would have won, the Oxford representative was enabled to pull the game out of the fire by a pretty combination. It is to be said, however, in extenuation of Mr. Naish’s oversight, that the move by which he might have won had a dangerous appearance, and would have left his King open to temporary attack, as will be seen on referring to the game, which, together with that on the first board, is printed below. Cambridge now made matters equal by the victories of Mr. Tattersall, who played the Vienna Game, against Mr. Fraser, and of Mr. McLean, who defended the Evans Gambit, against Mr. George. Mr. Stoker soon afterwards won a Scotch Gambit for Oxford against Mr. Stainer, and a draw occurred between Mr. Hancock and Mr. Fotheringham. The game between Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Battersby was protracted and interesting. After playing the Queen's Pawn Opening Mr. Jenkins got into trouble, and therefore gave up his Queen for Rook, Knight, and Pawn. After this he played so effectively that he seemed to have a possibility of winning another game for Oxford, but his opponent secured a draw in the end. Oxford thus won by four games to three, which, by a coincidence, is the same score as that which had given them victories in the two previous years. [match results as above]

File updated

Date Notes
17 April 2022 Original upload. Biographical details and match reports to be added later.
All material © 2022 John Saunders