© 1997-2024
John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: 44th Varsity Match • Venue: City of London CC, London • Date: Friday 19 March 1920
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1919 • Forward to 1921 • last edited: Monday March 18, 2024 12:27 PM

The 44th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at City of London Chess Club, London, on Friday 19 March 1920, starting at 2.30pm. Four games of the match are available, plus two part-games.

1919«     1920 Varsity Chess Match     »1921
Bd Oxford University 1920 Cambridge University Opening
1b Theodore Henry Tylor (Balliol) 0-1 Lionel Sharples Penrose (St John's) Ponziani
2w Herbert Gibson Rhodes, M.C. (New) ½-½ Harold Vincent Mallison (Trinity) QP
3b Horace Ransom Bigelow (Balliol) ½-½ James Haydn Barnes (St John's) Irregular
4w Dermot Michael Macgregor Morrah (New) 0-1 Clifford Maxwell Precious (St John's) Caro-Kann
5b Thomas Arthur Staynes, M.C. (Brasenose) ½-½ Neil Henderson Smith (Caius) QP
6w Harold Tetley Burt (Balliol) 1-0 Maxwell Herman Alexander Newman (St John's) Ruy Lopez
7b Edmund Samuel Woodley (St Edmund Hall) 1-0 William John Chalk (Queens') Scotch

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; "Varsity Chess Week", Chess and its Stars by Brian Harley, Whitehead & Miller, 1936; BCM, April 1920, p101; The Times, 20 March 1920; Cambridge Review, 30 April 1920; Ancestry.com; FindMyPast.co.uk; St Edmund Hall Magazine, 1919/20; St Edmund Hall Magazine, 1920/21;

Notes: Board 5 was adjudicated by Sir George Thomas. A detailed account of events leading up to this match may be found in an article called Varsity Chess Week by Brian Harley, available online here.

[BCM, January 1920, p39] "Oxford and Cambridge.—In view of the forthcoming ’Varsity chess match, which is due to be played in March, the prospects of the rival Blues are of interest. The next match, by the way, will be the 44th of the series, the score at present standing : Cambridge, 23 wins: Oxford, 17 wins; drawn 3. Mr. Dermot Morrah (New College), the O.U.Ch.C. hon. sec., informs us that the club was revived last term—it was in a state of suspended animation when the ’Varsity match of March, 1919, was played and Mr. Godfrey Davies, the 1914-15 president, was re-elected. Mr. Davies has since resigned, and his successor had still to be elected at the time of writing. Last term’s matches were against Oxford City (two) and the Imperial Chess Club, all being won. Six members of the University played for the Oxfordshire team in championship matches, four of them being eligible against Cambridge, so that there is a good nucleus for the ’Varsity match. Mr. Morrah adds that it is hoped that the usual tour of London by the combined Universities will be renewed this year. The O.U.Oh.C. is open to receive challenges from any club willing to take a team to Oxford. Return matches will be played during the tour. Mr. J. H. Barnes (St. John’s), the Cambridge hon. sec., writes:—The O.U.Ch.C., though actually revived a year ago, only renewed its full vigour at the beginning of last term, when a record number of new members joined. Most of that term was occupied with the championship tournament, but Mr. W. Winter, the president, gave a simultaneous display of 25 boards, winning 19, and towards the end of the term we played matches with Cambridge Town (won by 4—3*) and Hampstead (won by 6½—1½). At the end of the term the club had to bid farewell to its president, Mr. Winter, whose loss will be keenly felt. Mr. L. S. Penrose (John’s) was elected in his place. Owing to the expense and difficulties of travelling, it has not been found possible to arrange as many matches as before the war, so our chief activity is in tournaments. The championship has yet to be decided, and the Inter-College Shield to be competed for.” * corrected later - the Town won 4-3!

[BCM, February 1920, p70] "Oxford University Chess Club.—The annual election of officers on February 2 resulted as follows:—President, Mr. H. G. Rhodes (New College) ; treasurer, Mr. R. Wormald (Balliol); secretary, Mr. H. R. Bigelow (Balliol). Mr. T. H. Tylor (Balliol) remains match captain. Mr. R. M. Hamilton (Trinity) was elected to the committee, of which Mr. G. Davies (Pembroke), ex-president, who was largely responsible for the re-establishmnt of the Club, and Mr. D. M. Morrah (New College), late secretary, have become ex-officio members. Mr. W. H. Gunston points out that in the match between Cambridge University and Cambridge Town, referred to in our last issue, the Town Club, not the University, won by 4—3.

[BCM, April 1920, p101] INTER-UNIVERSITY MATCH. The forty-fourth match between the chess clubs of Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played at the City of London Chess Club on Friday, March 19. After three and a half hours’ play the score stood at 3 all, with one game unfinished, which was adjudicated by Sir G. A. Thomas as a draw, thus making the fourth drawn match of the series. Cambridge have won 25, Oxford 17. Cambridge had to move on the odd-numbered boards. The first game over was on Board 7, a Scotch game which turned into a Ruy Lopez, exchange variation. White wasted moves in the opening, and got a difficult game. Attempting to attack, he put his Queen in a position where it could be pinned, and resigned. This result was quickly nullified by Mr. Tylor’s resignation on Board 1. The following was the game: — The next game to finish was that on Board 6, a Ruy Lopez, in which Black, Mr. Newman, lost a pawn, and later overlooked the loss of a piece. This was followed by a worse oversight by the Oxford player on Board 4, who, in a fairly level position, left a rook en prise. The game on Board 3 had many vicissitudes. Mr. Bigelow first won the Exchange, but then allowed his Q and a B to be forked by a R. (See Diagram No. 1.) In desperation, he offered a Q sacrifice, which Mr. Barnes unwisely refused, leaving the game to come out level, with a probable draw. The Oxonian, however, tried still to force a win, making an unsound combination, from which he emerged with 6 pawns against bishop and 4 pawns. Mr. Barnes had an easily won ending, but could not see his way, and finally accepted the draw which his opponent astutely offered! The game on board 2, a Queen’s Gambit Declined, was well and steadily fought throughout, and was very properly abandoned as a draw just on the call of time. This was the most scientific of the series, and was free from serious error on either side. At move 14 we think White would have slightly the better game by playing K P x P instead of B P x P (see diagram No. 2). The remaining game, another well-fought Queen’s Gambit Declined, was also drawn."

"The combined Universities played a match with Hampstead on Tuesday evening [16 March 1920], losing by seven games to 13, and another match against the City of London Chess Club on Wednesday [17 March 1920], losing this also by 8½ to 12½. They will play the Metropolitan Chess Club this afternoon [20 March 1920]. [n.b. full results of the Hampstead and City of London matches given in Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette - Friday 26 March 1920, p15]

[The Times, 20 March 1920] "UNIVERSITY CHESS. OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE MATCH DRAWN. By Our Chess Correspondent.

"The 44th annual chess match between the Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played yesterday afternoon at the rooms of the City of London Chess Club, Wardrobe-court, E.C., and ended in a draw.

"The first match in this series, in 1871 [sic - should be 1873 - JS], was also played at the old rooms of the City of London Chess Club in Milk-street, Cheapside. The University players yesterday were much interested in a picture from one of the illustrated papers of that year, showing a crowded room, with the audience in the silk hats of that period. On that occasion the late J. H. Zukertort gave a blindfold display; J. H. Blackburne, who is still with us, gave a simultaneous display; and the late W. Steinitz was the umpire. This was the only occasion on which the late Howard Staunton visited the City of London Chess Club. [He visited the 2nd match in 1874 - JS]

"The University matches were suspended during the war, and revived somewhat hastily last year, Cambridge then winning by seven games to none. The old practice of visiting London was resumed this year. Cambridge won the toss, and took the move on the odd numbered boards; the time-limit was fixed at 20 moves per hour, play beginning at 2.30 p.m.

"Oxford scored the first win on board seven, then Cambridge equalized at board one; Oxford scored at board six and Cambridge scored at board four. On the call of time at 6 o’clock the only unfinished game was adjudicated, by Sir G. A. Thomas, the games on boards two and three having just previously been drawn by mutual agreement. Sir G. A. Thomas decided that the game on board five was also drawn, making the result of the match a draw with three and a half games all.

"Both sides seemed to be suffering from nerves, and oversights in the first two hours’ play accounted for the losses on each side, but Mr. L. S. Penrose deserves credit for the clever way he took advantage of his opponent’s error. Of the 44 matches played Cambridge has won 23, Oxford 17, and four have been drawn."

[Cambridge Review, 30 April 1920, p295] "C.U. vs. OXFORD. The annual Oxford and Cambridge Chess week in London experienced a tardy revival at the end of last term, though the series of University Matches was resumed last year when Cambridge, playing at Oxford, won 7—0. The two Universities (Past and Present) combined to play the chief London Clubs (Hampstead, City of London, Metropolitan, Imperial and Insurance), and created a record by losing to all of them. The matches against the the two first-named clubs preceded the University Match and by their result Oxford seemed the stronger team. However, the match, played at the City of London Club's rooms, proved an even and exciting contest. No. 7 board opened the score with a win for Oxford, which was speedily followed by a win for Cambridge on No. 1. Again a win for Oxford on No. 6 board was followed by a win for Cambridge on No. 4. Draws were agreed to on Nos. 2 and 3, and No. 5 was adjudicated a draw by Sir G. A. Thomas, thus leaving the match drawn. Cambridge were unlucky not to win, as No. 3 had a winning position when his opponent urged him to a draw just before adjudicating time. Of the 44 matches played so far, Oxford has won 17, Cambridge 23 and 4 have been drawn. Cambridge had white on the odd boards."

File updated

Date Notes
19 March 2022 First uploaded.
All material © 2021 John Saunders