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John Saunders


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Tournament: 37th Varsity Match • Venue: St George's Chess Club, Savile Row, London • Date: Monday 22 March 1909
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1908 • Forward to 1910 • last edited: Monday December 11, 2023 11:48 PM

The 37th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St George's Chess Club, Savile Row, London, on Monday 22 March 1909.

1908«     1909 Varsity Chess Match     »1910
Bd Oxford University   vs   Cambridge University Opening
1w Reuben Lob (Worcester) 0-1 William Herbert Humphreys (Christ's) Giuoco Piano (Möller)
2b Alexander Percival Waterfield (Christ Church) 1-0 John Brown (Sidney Sussex) Caro Kann
3w John George Rennie (New) 1-0 John Matthias Bee (St Catharine's) Dutch Def 2 e4
4b Herbert Neville Bewley (Wadham) 1-0 William Arthur Cooper (King's) Two Knights-> Giuoco
5w Robert Wilbur Burgess1 (Lincoln) 1-0 Frederick Russell Hoare (Trinity) Dutch Def
6b Edward Henry McGrath (Christ Church) 0-1 Henry Evans Foster (Trinity)  
7w Roman Leon Biske (Wadham) ½-½ Frederick James Saunders (Christ's) French Def

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. Two games available in the download (boards 1 and 2).


1 Oxford board 4 was Robert Wilbur Burgess according to The Field and The Sportsman but W L Mackie (Christ Church) according to the Westminster Gazette, 23 March 1909.

BCM, April 1909, p176: "Oxford v. Cambridge.—The inter-’Varsities match was contested on March 22nd [1909], at the St. George’s Chess Club, Saviile Row, Piccadilly. Play commenced at 12.15, and all games were finished before the time (6-30 p.m.) for ceasing play. Oxford won the toss, and played the White forces on the odd-numbered boards. The Cantabs never showed to advantage on the score sheet, and finally suffered defeat by 4½ points to 2½. Oxford has now won 13 matches, Cambridge 21, and three matches have been drawn. During the interval the teams and other visitors were entertained to luncheon by the St. George’s Chess Club, Major-General McGuire presiding."

1909 Varsity chess match
1909 Varsity chess match showing W H Humphreys (left) v R Lob. Photo: Daily Mirror, 23 March 1909

BCM, p172ff:
"'Varsities Chess Week in London.—The matches arranged this year by the Combined Universities comprised the following events :—
March 15—West London Chess Club, at Brook Green Hotel.
,, 16—Metropolitan, at Mecca Cafe, Watling Street, E.C.
,, 17—City of London, at Grocers’ Hall Court, Poultry, E.C.
,, 18—St. George’s, at St. George’s Chess Club, Saville Row, W.
„ 18—Insurance, at Cabin Restaurant, Old Jewry, E.C.
March 19—Imperial Colonial, at 89, Piccadilly.
„ 19—London University, at University College, Gower Street.
„ 20—Cable Match : v. American Universities, at First Avenue Hotel, Holborn.
„ 22—'Varsity Match, at the St. George’s Club, Saville Row.
,, 23—House of Commons.

For the foregoing particulars and the following detailed results we are indebted to the kindness of Mr. A. P. Waterfield, hon. secretary Oxford University Chess Club, and Mr. R. A. Hayes, vice-president Cambridge University Chess Club. We are also under obligation to Mr. Waterfield for the full scores of all the games played in the ’Varsity match. We regret that heavy pressure upon our space prevents publication at present, but we hope next month to have the pleasure of presenting to our readers some examples of the play. The match results may be regarded as fairly successful, as the Combined ’Varsities won three contests, drew one, and lost by one point only against the Metropolitan, and the Imperial Colonial. The great disappointment was the poor score made in the Cable Match, which was contested under a time-limit of 24 moves in the first hour and 12 moves in every subsequent half-hour ; this accelerated rate being adopted in order to finish the contest in one day. The veteran Mr. James Mortimer acted as umpire on this side for the Americans, and the London arrangements for the match were under the control of Mr. J. W. Wright, hon. secretary of the Metropolitan Chess Club.

File updated

Date Notes
17 April 2022 Original upload. Biographical details and match reports to be added later.
27 June 2022 Added one more game – J.Brown 0-1 A.P.Waterfield, board 2 – and a photo.
All material © 2022 John Saunders