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Event: 50th Varsity Match • Venue: City of London Chess Club, Wardrobe Court, London EC • Date: Friday 19 March 1926
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1925 • Forward to 1927 • last edited: Monday March 7, 2022 6:14 PM

The 50th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at City of London Chess Club, Wardrobe Court, London EC, on Friday 19 March 1926. All game scores from this match are available.

Bd Oxford University 1926 Cambridge University
1w George Shorrock Ashcombe Wheatcroft (New) ½-½ Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas (St John's)
2b Kenneth Humphry Bancroft (Pembroke) 1-0 Herbert John Charles Herrick (St John's)
3w Gerald Abrahams (Wadham) 0-1 (Philip) Stuart Milner-Barry (Trinity)
4b Graham Russell Mitchell (Magdalen) ½-½ Victor Arthur Coates (Sidney Sussex)
5w Alfred William Stonier (Christ Church) 0-1 James Andrew Herrick (Pembroke)
6b Giovanni Marie Denis George Costigan (St John's) 0-1 Philip L Sherman (Trinity)
7w Joseph Irving King (Jesus) ½-½ Ronald Cherry Weaver (Corpus Christi)
    2½-4½  

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; BCM, April 1926, p167; The Times, 20 March 1926 (including all game scores); BCM, Jan 1927, p10 (Past match); A Century of British Chess by PW Sergeant

Notes: Board 7 was adjudicated by RP Michell. Wheatcroft was Oxford president, Thomas the Cambridge president.

[BCM, April 1926, p166] "The fiftieth Inter-University match was played at the City of London Chess Club on Friday, March 19th, Cambridge University securing a splendid victory by 4½ to 2½.

"Both sides were above the average this year and in consequence some fine games were played. Unfortunately for Oxford, H. F. Sutherland (Balliol), board No.6, was summoned home to Scotland owing to the illness of his sister, and in consequence Costigan played in his place, and J. I. King was brought in on board 7.

"The first game to be finished was that on board 3, where the Oxford player, in a more or less even position, overlooked the loss of the exchange. This was followed by a fine win by Sherman on board 6. Costigan had played a Centre Counter and got a cramped game, and Sherman took full advantage of it. This was followed by still another win for Cambridge on board No.5. The Oxford player had got a good attacking position in a Queen's gambit, but at move 22, instead of bringing another piece up to the attack, made a sacrifice which brought in three Pawns for a piece but opened his opponent's Bishops to the long diagonals. In defending a Mate he laid himself open to a pretty sacrifice, by J. A. Herrick, of his Queen, which brought an immediate win.

"Bancroft revenged Stonier by defeating H. J. C. Herrick on board No.2, by a very able play in an Indian defence to a Queen's Pawn.

"The Captains on Board No. 1 shortly afterwards agreed to a draw, the game being very blocked, this was followed by a draw on board No.4, but the Cambridge player later missed an easy win at move 34, where he played Kt-K6 instead of Kt-R5. Even afterwards he probably ought to have won. The game on board No.7 was not finished after fifty moves and was adjudicated a draw by Mr. R. P. Mitchell [sic - Reginald Pryce Michell]. Oxford had the move on the odd-numbered boards."


[The Times, 20 March 1926] "UNIVERSITY CHESS - CAMBRIDGE WIN. (By Our Chess Correspondent.)

"The 50th Inter-University match between Oxford and Cambridge was played at the City of London Chess Club, Wardrobe-court, E.C., yesterday afternoon, Cambridge University securing a well-deserved victory by 4½ games to 2½.

"To some extent the victory was unexpected, as Oxford had done better in their Term matches against the same teams than Cambridge had done, but there can be no doubt that the better team won yesterday. Oxford had to make one change from the list given in The Times of March 1, Mr. H. F. Sutherland (Balliol) having been called away to Scotland. His place was taken by Mr. J. I. King (Jesus) with a consequent slight rearrangement of the order of the Oxford team. The record of the series is now as follows :—Cambridge, 24 wins ; Oxford, 22 wins; four matches have been drawn.

"Oxford had the move on the odd-numbered boards.

"The full scores of the games played are given below and tell their own story, but it may be recorded that Cambridge won on Boards Nos. 3, 6, and 5 before Oxford had scored; V. Coates had practically a certain win in the ending, but allowed the draw by perpetual check. This did not matter, as the draw made his side safe, and the remaining game on Board 7 was adjudicated a draw by Mr. R. P. Michell."

Universities' Week

Mar 13 Combined Univs 9½-7½ University of London
Mar 15 Combined Univs 7-6 Insurance
Mar 16 Combined Univs 11½-8½ Hampstead
Mar 17 Combined Univs 9½-8½ City of London
Mar 17 Cambridge Univ 5-5 United Banks
Mar 20 Combined Univs 10-6 West London
Mar 22 Combined Univs 8½-4½ Athenaeum and Reform Clubs
Mar 23 Cambridge Univ 4-2 North London
Mar 27 Combined Univs 5-3 Northern Universities (at Manchester)

Miscellaneous matches
Feb 20 Cambridge Univ 5½-5½ London Univ
Feb 27 Cambridge Univ 9-5 Northern Univs
Mar 20 Cambridge Past 8½-6½ Oxford Past
Nov 27 Oxford Univ 6-5 London Univ


Oxford Past vs Cambridge Past, 20 March 1926 at the City of London CC (8th match)

Bd Oxford University Past 1926 Cambridge University Past
1 Theodore Henry Tylor (Balliol) 0-1 Henry Ernest Atkins (Peterhouse)
2 Herbert Gibson Rhodes, M.C. (New) 1-0 William Hewison Gunston (St John's)
3 Thomas Arthur Staynes, M.C. (Brasenose) 0-1 (Creassey Edward) Cecil Tattersall (Trinity)
4 Alexander Oppenheim (Balliol) 0-1 John Matthias Bee (St Catharine's)
5 John Harold Morrison (Wadham) 0-1 John Elliott West (Downing)
6 Dermot Michael Macgregor Morrah (New) 1-0 John Brown (Sidney Sussex)
7 Alan Hamilton Crothers (Queen's) ½-½ Harold John Snowden (Queens')
8 Henry Delacombe Roome (Merton) ½-½ Bertram Goulding Brown (Trinity)
9 Sir Richard Barnett (Wadham) ½-½ Sir Edgar Wigram (Trinity Hall)
10 Edward Algernon Michell (Queen's) 1-0 Frederick Russell Hoare (Trinity)
11 Arthur Rutherford (Brasenose) 0-1 Paul Ian Wyndham (Trinity)
12 Gilbert Hollinshead Blomfield Jackson (Merton) 0-1 Dr Vickerman Henzell Rutherford (Sidney Sussex)
13 L James (Trinity) ½-½ Alan Maurice Ewbank (St John's)
14 Philip Wilson (Balliol) 1-0 Kenneth Frederick Thomas Mills (St John's)
15 Hon. Frederick Gustavus Hamilton-Russell (Christ Church) ½-½ Roland Melville Dowdeswell (Emmanuel)
    6½-8½  

Source: The Times, 22 March 1926.

"UNIVERSITY CHESS - OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE CLUBS’ DINNER. (By Our Chess Correspondent.) The Jubilee Dinner of the Oxford and Cambridge Universities Chess Clubs was held at the Trocadero Restaurant on Saturday evening [20 March 1926], Mr. G. S. A. Wheatcroft, President of the Oxford University Chess Club, presiding.

"The guests of the evening were Mr. H. E. Atkins (Cambridge), British Champion, and Mr. J. Walter Russell, hon. secretary of the City of London Chess Club.

"The Chairman mentioned the receipt of a letter from Canon Gordon Ross, president of the British Chess Federation, regretting that parochial duties prevented him being present at the dinner. Mr. Wheatcroft also mentioned the loss the Universities had sustained through the death of Mr. Amos Burn, whose sage counsel had always been placed at their service.

"After the loyal toast had been given by the Chairman, Mr. D. M. Morrah (Oxford), in the absence of Mr. H. F. Sutherland, proposed the toast of “The Guests.” He compared Mr. Atkins to Achilles, the mighty warrior, for the British champion had been for many years the strongest active British player. This was no disparagement of the former masters, Messrs. Blackbume and Burn, who had long retired from the active list. Mr. Atkins had received his training in the school of the University match, the latest specimen of which had come to such a lamentable conclusion on Friday. Their other guest, Mr. J. Walter Russell, had been for many years the presiding genius of the Inter-University match, besides taking a large share in the arrangements of the annual match, Oxford "Past" v. Cambridge "Past," where again there had been a lamentable conclusion that afternoon. He would add to the names of the guests that of the Chess Correspondent of The Times. For years their match was played in gloomy silence. Now not only their match but chess events generally were regularly chronicled in the Press, and in that revival The Times had taken the foremost place.

"Mr. H. E. Atkins, replying to the toast, said he always felt it to be a chance when he was competing in the British Championship against Sir George Thomas and Messrs. R. P. Michell and F. D. Yates. University chess had gone ahead by leaps and bounds, and the increase in the number of tournaments and matches must have a great effect on English play, especially when they could meet some of the best foreign masters over the board. He then gave some instances of remarkable chess blunders he had seen, and in some cases profited by—things that required to be seen to be believed. He recommended the young players of the present day not to specialize too much in one or two openings, but to make themselves familiar with the routine of all the openings and not to be afraid to play a combination that appeared to be profitable.

"Mr. J. Walter Russell also replied.

"Mr. A. R. B. Thomas (Cambridge) proposed the toast of "The Clubs," recalling that of all University contests chess was one of the oldest. Oxford could boast of a long line of distinguished players, but Cambridge could boast of their distinguished guest that evening.

"Sir Richard Barnett, M.P. (Oxford), referred to the mention in The Times last Thursday morning of the Rev. A. Howell Smith as the first President, in 1871, of the Cambridge University Chess Club, and also to Mr. Winston’s Churchill’s biography of his father, the late Lord Randolph Churchill. They would find Lord Randolph to have been a keen chess player, and that, with others, he helped to found the Oxford University Chess Club in 1868, three years before the date mentioned by Mr. Howell Smith. For one person interested in chess 20 years ago, there were now a hundred, and he would pray that the University clubs might live and prosper, and lead this great national movement.

"Mr. Falconer Madan, speaking as one who played for Oxford in the first match on March 28, 1873, gave some amusing reminisscences of that match, with its trying atmosphere, and the "Permeate yourselves, gentlemen, if you please," from one of the distinguished masters present, when there was undue crowding round some of the boards.

"Those present included :—Lieutenant-Commander W. D. Bayne, R.N.R., Messrs. T. R. Batten, T. H. Tylor, H. G. Rhodes, C. F. Gatti, J. I. King, A. W. Stonier, Macrae Moir, J. G. Archibald, G. R. Mitchell, K. H. Bancroft, A. Rutherford, T. A. Staynes, R. C. Weaver, J. Pepper, G. Abrahams, M. A. Vernon, B. Goulding Brown, P. S. Milner-Barry, A. M. Ewbank, A. Oppenheim, G. Costigan, P. Sherman, and A. H. Crothers.

"The annual match, Oxford "Past" v. Cambridge "Past," was played at the City of London Chess Club on Saturday afternoon [20 March 1926], Cambridge winning by 8½ games to 6½. The following is the full score..."


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Date Notes
7 March 2022 Original upload.
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