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John Saunders


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Tournament: 33rd Varsity Match • Venue: St George's Chess Club, Piccadilly, London • Date: Monday 27 March 1905
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1904 • Forward to 1906 • last edited: Monday December 11, 2023 11:43 PM

The 33rd Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St George's Chess Club, 24 Grafton Street, Piccadilly, London, on Monday 27 March 1905. Adjudicator was Isidor Gunsberg.

1904«     1905 Varsity Chess Match     »1906
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University
1b Henry Delacombe Roome (Merton) 0-1 George Leathem (St John's)
2w Thomas Herbert Bumpus (St John's) 1-0 Thomas Lodge (Trinity)
3b Herbert Jennings Rose (Balliol) ½-½ John Arthur Horrocks (Selwyn)
4w William Nicolaas Macfarlane (University) 0-1 William Rawson Greenhalgh (Pembroke)
5b Edward Paice (Merton) 1-0 Kanwar Dalip Singh (Pembroke)
6w John Rowland Hanning (New) 1-0 William Woodhouse Lane (Emmanuel)
7b Noel James Roughton (New) 1-0 Arthur Cousen Bottomley (Clare)

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); BCM, April 1905, p151; The Field, 1 April 1905; Womanhood, May 1905, Vol.13, No.78, p364; Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.com; Who Was Who 1897-2007; Wikipedia. All seven games are available in the download.


(1) BCM mistakenly gives the Oxford top board as 'HD Brown (Merton)
(2) Start shortly after 12.00 (and included a lunch break) - ended 6.00pm
(3) Board 5 adjudicated by Isidor Gunsberg

BCM, April 1905, p151: "The most interesting event of the past month in London chess circles was the match between Oxford and Cambridge, and the contests, with combined teams representing both Universities, played against some of the leading Metropolitan Clubs. On Friday, March 24th, the United ’Varsities visited the West London Club, and after a most enjoyable match, in which twenty-one players were engaged on each side, West London was defeated by 11½ games to 9½. On Saturday. March 25th, a combined team of twenty-three players encountered the City of London Chess Club, and after a gallant fight the score was: Combined Universities 12½, City Club 11½, but victory in the match was credited to the home club owing to two of the visitors failing to keep their engagement. The contest was arranged for 25 boards on each side.

"The annual match between Oxford and Cambridge, the thirty fourth of the series, was played at the St. George's Chess Club, 24, Grafton Street, on Monday, March 27th, and resulted in favour of Oxford by 4½ games to 2½. Play started shortly after noon, and during the course of the match the players took luncheon with the officials of the St George's Club. The match was finished shortly before six o'clock, Mr. Gunsberg adjudicating the only unfinished game, board 5, a win for Oxford. Since 1872, the year in which the contest was instituted, Cambridge has won 22 matches, Oxford 10, and 2 have been drawn."

The Field, 1 April 1905 (Leopold Hoffer): "The Universities played, according to custom, several preliminary matches against good teams of the leading metropolitan clubs, and on this occasion with commendable efficiency, considering the players opposed to them. On Friday the combined Universities defeated West London by 10½ games to 9½. On Saturday they lost against the City of London by a small majority only—11½ games to the City's 13½; and on Tuesday the Metropolitan won by 11½ to 8½ games.

"The annual match of the Universities against each other was played on Monday at the St. George's Chess Club, 24, Grafton-street, Piccadilly. Cambridge having won the toss took the first move on the odd numbered boards, giving them the advantage of the first move on four boards to their opponents' three. Play commenced about twelve o'clock noon, was interrupted for luncheon—provided by the St. George's, Dr Dunstan in the chair—at 1.15, and time was called shortly before six o'clock, when only one game was in progress, Board No. 5, an easy win for Oxford, adjudicated upon by Mr Gunsberg. The result of the match could not be anticipated at the adjournment, but it .accentuated itself soon afterwards. Although the scores were even for some time, 2½ points each, a survey of the remaining boards showed that Oxford would gain the day after a series of successive defeats, relieved only by a drawn match in 1902. The average of the games is of a higher order of excellence than generally in these matches, except the one on Board No. 6, in which both players have shown a lack of familiarity with the opening. Mr George Edwardes invited both teams to the Gaiety Theatre, as on former occasions."

Womanhood, May 1905, Vol.13, No.78, p364, by Rhoda A Bowles: "Oxford and Cambridge. The 'Varsity Week was an unusually busy one this year, the chief event naturally being the match between the sister Universities, which, as usual, took place at the St. George's Chess Club, where the two teams were entertained to luncheon, as upon former occasions. Dr. Dunstan. in his newly-appointed capacity as hon. sec., occupied the chair. An hour’s play had taken place before the adjournment for lunch, which in many ways is not the most desirable interruption in the middle of a hard game of chess. I was assured by one of the players that he attributed his loss entirely to the ceasing of play at a critical juncture, when he had quite the best of the game, and was in the throes of forming his plans to win. Unfortunately for him, upon his return to the board he found the "connection broken." And, alas! the clock waits for no man; so, before he could begin where he—so to speak—left off, a hasty move or two plunged him into difficulties from which he never again extricated himself. This is an example of misplaced kindness. Had the St. George’s taken the advice I gave it in this column last year, when I pointed out the danger of this very thing happening, it would not have had this poor fellow’s loss lying at its door. He might have lost in any event, but had the meal been postponed until the close of play no blame could have been attached thereto. Look to it in future, St. George’s, if you want the best men to win. How, I wonder, would the Boat Race finish, if just as highest speed was attained time was called for a halt, and refreshments administered?

"On the whole, the games this year were much better than usual, and after experiencing defeat for seven years, Oxford emerged victorious by the capital score of 4½ to 2½. [full board results - list of previous match results]

"Mr. George Edwardes, who is an excellent chessplayer and follows these matches with great interest, invited both teams to the Gaiety Theatre in the evening. Combined Universities. In the combined matches the strength of the teams was well maintained, for against a first-class team of the West London the Universities won by 10½ to 9½. Against the City of London Chess Club they won an even number on the boards played, but owing to an unfortunate circumstance two of their men failed to turn up, and these two boards the City claimed by default! Thus the City counted 13½, 'Varsities 11½. In the match versus the Champion Club of London, the Metropolitan, they very naturally experienced defeat, but not a bad beating, for they won 8½ out of 20 games. The greatest victory they achieved, however, was—I grieve to have to write it—against my own team. Had I adopted the City tactics I should have won hands down. It happened in this wise. The match was arranged for twenty boards, and owing to unavoidable circumstances they came six men short, which, according to the City arrangements, would have given me six games. However, out of the fulness of my heart I lent them three men, and agreed to play seventeen a-side. These three, all old Oxonians—the Hon. Victor A. Parnell. P. W. Sergeant, and L. James—each won against my own players! and the result of the match was 12½ to Oxford and Cambridge, and 4½ to Rhoda A. Bowles’ team. The match was a very enjoyable one, and being of a social character, attracted a large number of visitors, both ladies and gentlemen, to the delightful Marble Hall of the Criterion, where play took place. I had the honour of playing Herr Mieses on my top board. His game, with notes by himself, is given in the Game Department. [At first I misunderstood what the writer was saying here: by "I had the honour of playing Herr Mieses" she means that she had the honour of Mieses taking the top board in her team - he played top board for the Rhoda Bowles' team versus Bateman of the Oxford/Cambridge team]


Friday 24 March - Combined Universities 10½, West London 9½
Saturday 25 March - Combined Universities 11½, City of London 13½
Tuesday 28 March - Combined Universities 8½, Metropolitan 11½
Wednesday 29 March - Combined Universities 6½, Hampstead 12½
(I've not been able to find a date for the Combined Universities v Rhoda Bowles' Team match which seems to have gone unreported in the press at large - JS)

1905 Roome v Emery - faulty score
Score of Roome-Emery as given in BCM, July 1905, p280

File updated

Date Notes
17 April 2022 Original upload. Biographical details and match reports to be added later.
21 April 2022 Further textual additions made, plus the Mieses-Bateman game score added.
All material © 2022 John Saunders