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John Saunders


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Tournament: 32nd Varsity Match • Venue: St George's Chess Club, Victoria Street, London • Date: Monday 28 March 1904
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1903 • Forward to 1905 • last edited: Wednesday March 13, 2024 5:36 PM

The 32nd Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St George's Chess Club, Northumberland Club, St Irmin's Court, Victoria St, London, on Monday 28 March 1904. FJ Lee acted as match umpire.

1903«     1904 Varsity Chess Match     »1905
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1b Henry Delacombe Roome (Merton) ½-½ Bertram Goulding Brown (Trinity)
2w Thomas Herbert Bumpus (St John's) ½-½ Harry Bateman (Trinity)
3b Adolph Christian von Ernsthausen (Balliol) ½-½ George Leathem (St John's)
4w Samuel Nevile Foster (Worcester) ½-½ Rev. John Arthur Horrocks (Selwyn)
5b William Nicolaas Macfarlane (University) 0-1 Thomas Lodge (Trinity)
6w Edward Paice (Merton) 0-1 Rev. William Rawson Greenhalgh (Pembroke)
7b John Rowland Hanning (New) ½-½ William Woodhouse Lane (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. All seven games are available in the download.

(1) C. S. James (Oxford) and Z. V/W. Ahmed (Cambridge) were the reserves. [Cholmondeley Sherwood James, Christ Church, subsequently played in the 1907 Varsity match; unable to find the college of Z V (or Z W) Ahmed]

The Field, 2 April 1904 (Hoffer):"The 35th annual match between the sister Universities was played on Monday at the St George's Chess Club, Northumberland Club, St Ermin's Court, Victoria. These are the new quarters of the St George's, and commodious rooms they are, quite secluded, and appropriate to the cultivation of the game, The match was fixed for an early hour, 12 o'clock noon, the place being then deserted; only two members were present, Dr Dunstan and Mr G Allan Heron, who had the arrangements in hand. Cambridge, having won the toss, took the Surrey side, or rather the first move, which secured them, being uneven numbers, the first move on the four odd-numbered boards. An adjournment for luncheon took place at 1.30, the conversation during this interval being, naturally enough, cricket, and not chess.

"No perceptible advantage was noticeable on any of the boards, except on Board No.1, the Cantab having given up (or lost) a pawn; but he had a compensating attack for it. Very shortly after play being resumed the Oxford men began to waver, especially on Boards 6 and 7, and these were the only games lost eventually, the four top pairs dividing honours by scoring four draws. By six o'clock only one game was in progress, and this was adjudicated a draw by Mr Lee.

"Messrs MacFarlane, Paice and Hanning are new men in the Oxford team, and Messrs Horrocks, Greenhalgh, and Lane in the Cambridge team. There is a decided improvement noticeable in the style of last year's players, and the freshmen have a promising grasp of the game, requiring, however, cultivation as yet. The games are fairly interesting, and decidedly above the average of games which are played, by amateurs of the strength of the University teams, in the regular club matches."

Westminster Gazette - Monday 28 March 1904: "THE UNIVERSITIES CHESS MATCH. The Annual Universities Chess Match commenced at twelve o’clock noon under the auspices of the St. George's Chess Club, Northumberland Club, St Ermin’s-court, Victoria-street. An adjournment took place at half-past one, and play continues till seven o’clock, when unfinished games will be adjudicated upon. The following are the teams in the order of pairing: [team lists] C. S. James and Z. V. Ahmed are the reserves for Oxford and Cambridge respectively.

BCM (1904), p162 Oxford v. Cambridge - The Inter Universities match was played on Monday, March 28th, at the St. George's Chess Club, which is now located at the Northumberland Club, St. Irmin's Court, Victoria Street. Dr. Dunstan and Mr. Heron made the arrangements for the contest and their kindness was greatly appreciated. Play started about mid-day, and proved of very steady order. At the luncheon adjournment neither side had any advantage. Later in the afternoon the Cantabs at boards 5 and 6 succeeded in winning, and these results finally established the victory as all the remaining games were draws. [board scores]

Morning Post - Tuesday 29 March 1904, p. 4 UNIVERSITIES' CHESS MATCH. Fortune continues to favour Cambridge in the chess contests of the universities, though the good form shown by Oxford in the recent trial matches encouraged the hope that the meeting at the St. George's Chess Club, St. Ermin's Court, Victoria-street, yesterday might result in the direction of more even record. This was the thirty-second match, and before its commencement the score stood: Cambridge, twenty; Oxford, nine; drawn, two. Play began at twelve o'clock, and Mr. B. Goulding Brown, of Cambridge, having the first move at board No. 1, opened with the Ruy Lopez against Mr. H. D. Roome; Mr. Bumpus played the English Opening against Mr. Bateman, the Cambridge President, and Mr. von Ernsthausen, the Oxford President, had to meet a Sicilian Defence in his game with Mr. Leatham. The same opening occurred between Mr. Foster (Oxford) and Mr. Horrocks, a French Defence was established by Mr. Macfarlane (Oxford) against Mr. Lodge, and the Scottish Game was selected on the boards of Mr. Paice (Oxford) and Mr. Greenhalgh and Mr. Hamming (Oxford) and Mr. Lane.

There was an adjournment at one o'clock, when the teams were entertained at lunch by the St. George's Chess Club. Play was resumed at half-past two, and Oxford's first misfortune occurred through a mistake by which Mr. Paice lost a piece and his game in consequence. Some drawn games were agreed to, and then Mr. Lodge, of Cambridge, won an excellent game of Mr. Macfarlane, the score being: Cambridge 3½, Oxford 1½. There was still a chance for Oxford to draw the match if Mr. Bumpus and Mr. Foster could win, but Mr. Bateman soon afterwards secured a draw against Mr. Bumpus, and this decided the issue in favour of Cambridge. The other game being unfinished at half-past five was drawn by the adjudication of Mr. F. J. Lee, the umpire. Cambridge therefore won by two games, thus increasing the advantage in the record of matches to twelve.

Westminster Gazette - Tuesday 29 March 1904, p. 8 THE UNIVERSITIES' CHESS MATCH. The thirty-first annual match between Oxford and Cambridge, played yesterday under the auspices of the St. George's Chess Club at the Northumberland Club, St. Ermin's Court, Victoria-street, resulted again in favour of Cambridge by 4½ points to 2½.

[board scores]

Cambridge, winning the toss, took the first move on board No. 1 and on the odd-numbered boards, Oxford on the even boards, Cambridge thus having the move four times to their opponents' three—an advantage in so short a match. Play commenced at twelve noon, there was a pause for luncheon at 1.30, and by six o'clock only one game was in progress, which was adjudicated by Mr. Lee as drawn. The following game was played on Board No. 1, a spirited game on the part of the Cantab; the Oxonian defending skilfully a difficult position: [Goulding-Brown - Roome]

London Daily News - Tuesday 29 March 1904, p. 11

CHESS. The Universities Match.
Cambridge yesterday added another to their long list of victories against Oxford in the annual matches over the chess board. Play commenced at noon at the St. George's Chess Club, and continued till five o’clock, with a luncheon interval, when two games had been won by Cambridge and four had resulted in draws. The remaining game was adjudicated a draw by Mr. F. J. Lee, and Cambridge had won the match by 4½ to 2½.

Womanhood. v. 11 (Dec. 1903-May 1904), p. 354


The thirty-fifth annual chess match between Oxford and Cambridge was again played at the St. George's Chess Club (London) this year, when the club extended its usual hospitality to the players by placing its capital rooms at their disposal and entertaining them to luncheon during the interval of rest (?): Oddly enough, when lunch was announced every player had made exactly nine moves. It is a moot point whether, when one is just in the throes of planning a combination, a heavy meal, no matter how delightfully cooked and served, is conducive to its fulfilment; and whether, after all, this kindly-intended hospitality is not a little wrongly timed. It is true that both sides—suffer alike, I had almost written—immensely enjoy it, so that it cuts both ways. But there is always the temptation (if ahead it is known that the rest of the day after play ceases is fully engaged) to bear out that classic (sic), "They called it lunch, but I managed to make a jolly good dinner out of it." And is it likely that any human can, after that, easily pick up the thread of the dropped game? No! He has to sit and study the back of his brain for the missing end. Perhaps he loses it altogether; if so, an entirely different game from the intended one is played. Do the games suffer in quality thereby? I think so, and feel quite sure that we should have better chess played in these matches if the St. George's Club gave instructions for tea or coffee, together with sandwiches, to be handed round during the play, and immediately on cessation of play have an informal dinner (the same menu answering amply) served without ceremony or trouble of dressing. Then those engaged in play would not only do justice to the meal, but would appreciate the nonceremonial part, which would leave them free to enjoy a long evening's recreation after the hard work of the afternoon.

Mr. Heron and Dr. Dunstan received their guests and visitors, the former in his capacity as hon. secretary to St. George's—and a right good secretary too—according a welcome worthy of the oldest chess club in London, with that gentlemanly polish which clubs who close their doors to visitors (ladies especially) would do well to follow. Dr. Dunstan, as one of the best players of to-day, had a cheery word of encouragement for the losers, congratulations for the winners, and generally assisted in looking after the welfare of all present. It was a very enjoyable afternoon, well spent, and I appreciated the kindness shown to the only lady Chess Editor in England.

Some of the games were intensely interesting, and for the benefit of my many Varsity subscribers, I publish the whole series. There was only one game unfinished at the call of time. I give some notes thereon by C. E. C. Tattersall, the clever Cambridge player, and Champion of the Metropolitan Chess Club, showing that it was clearly a win for J. N. Horrocks. But the adjudicator evidently did not see all these variations, and gave it a draw! [Analysis engines corroborate Tattersall's opinion that the game should have been given a win for Black - JS]

File updated

Date Notes
17 April 2022 Original upload. Biographical details and match reports to be added later.
13 March 2024 Michael Kühl kindly collected and contributed most of the above press reports which I have appended to the page. Many thanks, Michael.
All material © 2022 John Saunders