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Event: (unofficial) Varsity Match • Venue: [unknown] • Date: 18 March 1941 • last edited: Friday November 20, 2020 5:11 PM
List of Varsity MatchesBack to 1940 (Unofficial), 1939 (official) • Forward to 1942 (unofficial), 1946 (official)

This unofficial Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at Balliol College, Oxford on 18 March 1941. No game scores from this match are available.

Bd Oxford University 1941 Cambridge University
1 Clifford Leak (Corpus Christi) 1-0 Geoffrey Irving Rhodes (Selwyn)
2 John Warcup Cornforth (St Catherine's) 0-1 John Edward Richardson (Jesus)
3 Leonard Judah Richenberg (Corpus Christi) 1-0 Arthur Leslie Roy Perry (St John's)
4 Michael Justin Aylmer Spears (Magdalen) 1-0 Christopher Thurston Rivington (Trinity)
5 Peter Fairbairn Copping (St Catherine's) 0-1 Hugh Desmond Bullock (Pembroke)
6 Peter William Reginald Summerson (Exeter) 0-1 John Harley-Mason (Corpus Christi)
7 Laurence Jonathan Cohen (Balliol) 1def0 Guy Edgar Schubert (Trinity)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; BCM, May 1941, p138; BCM, Jan 1942, p8.


Colours not known. BCM, May 1941, p138, gives the individual results but no mention of venue or date. It gives the result of the bottom board game as "by default". No other details. BCM, Jan 1942, p8, gives date and venue but doesn't mention that the bottom board was by default. "In the academic year 1940-41 the Oxford University Chess Club played five matches. Of the two against Oxford City Club the first was won 8½-7½ and the second 10-5. The two against an Army team from Didcot were both won 5-0 and 5½-1½. The Cambridge match, played at Balliol in Oxford on March 18th, was very closely fought." Then scores as given above (with various misspellings). "An inter-college tournament was also run, which was won by Balliol: St. Catherine's were runners-up. Sir George Thomas gave a much-appreciated simultaneous display in Hilary term. This year so far two matches have been played. The first, against Nottingham University, was drawn 4-4. In the second Oxford City revenged their double defeat of last year by winning 7-5: they had a very strong team including Dr. Fazekas and Dr. Schenck [sic - Hans Georg Schenk]. Though war conditions mean that many members are only up for a year the University Club is now on a firmer footing than it has been for some years, and is glad to be able to keep chess alive in the University."

Clifford Leak (1921-1987) Also played in the 1939 and 1947 matches. Attended Liverpool Institute in the 1930s (captain of their chess team), won an open scholarship in Classics to Corpus Christi and was with Intelligence Corps during WW2. Played on a high board for Lancashire in the early 1950s.

Sir John Warcup Cornforth (1917-2013), AC, CBE, FRS, FAA. Wikipedia. Chessgames.com. Australian–British chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1975. Completely deaf by the age of 20. Gave a blindfold simul against 12 players whilst still an undegraduate in Australia in 1937. Played in the 1936 Australian Championship in Perth and the inaugural (1937) Australian Correspondence Chess Championship. Member of Hampstead CC in the 1950s, winning their club championship in 1953, 1956 and 1957. Played on a high board for Sussex for many years, with a playing strength equivalent to 2300 at his best. Was a student and academic colleague of Sir Robert Robinson, also a Nobel laureate and chess player.

Leonard Judah Richenberg (1922-2000) (Gaige gives spelling as 'Reichenberg' but this is definitely wrong.) Company Director, Pan Polychord Ltd and others. Referred to as an "economics professor (sic) at Oxford and a former adviser to the MacMillan government" in the book "Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America" by Jonathan Gould, and managing director of the Triumph Investment Group which at one time owned 25% of the Beatles' business. Former member of the RAC Club chess circle. Schoolfriend of Kingsley Amis at City of London School: quote from Life of Kingsley Amis by Zachary Leader: "Richenberg and Amis had been friends and desk-mates since the third form and were stars of the Classical side. But both came to question the utility of a Classical education. Richenberg was good at maths and wanted to become a mathematician; Amis wanted to be a writer and was keen on studying English. In the end, only Amis made the switch. At Oxford, Richenberg read PPE at Corpus Christi, was awarded a double First, took a B.Litt. in economics, and became an economics don at Jesus College, though only for a year. He then moved to the Treasury as an economic adviser and eventually went into business, where he made and lost a great deal of money. He and Amis remained friends even after a misunderstanding over Amis’s novel I Want It Now (1968), in the first chapter of which a party is held at the home of a rich, celebrity-seeking couple named Reichenberg. Len Dowsett, Richenberg’s successor as School Captain, remembers him as brilliant, on one occasion playing and winning three simultaneous games of chess while blindfolded. [Denis] Norden describes him as ‘dazzling, the one we thought would leave a mark’." See also Quotes & Queries entries 5819, 5827 and 5833 in the 2007 BCM.

Michael Justin Aylmer Spears (1921-1969). His mother, the novelist Mary Spears (née Borden), was a close friend of Winston Churchill and the future PM attended his christening in 1921. "The Spears’ only child, Michael Justin Aylmer Spears, born in 1921, would not have a pleasant life. As an adolescent, he contracted osteomyelitis and would continue to be in poor health from then until his early death at 47." Classic Chicago Magazine.

Peter Fairbairn Copping (1922-1989). Solicitor, based in Swindon, Wiltshire. Played in the 1954 British Championship, scoring 5/11. Also played at Paignton and in the West of England (WECU) Championship, winning the WECU title in 1956. high board for Wiltshire. Was also a published problemist.

Peter William Reginald Summerson (1921-2010). Was, I think, a blind player - he attended Worcester College.

Laurence Jonathan Cohen (1923-2006). British philosopher, usually referred to as L. Jonathan Cohen. Wikipedia. Fellow, Queen's College, Oxford (1957-1990). Codebreaker, Bletchley Park. Served in naval intelligence in the Far East from 1942-1945. Wrote an article ('Chess as a Model for Language', Philosophy 11, 1982, p51-87). No other chess references found.

Geoffrey Irving Rhodes (1920-1984). Born Bradford, Yorks, died Harrow, Middx. Matric. 1938. Was an inventor (Proctor & Gamble). Played in the British Championship in 1963. NCCU Champion 1965. Listed as a member of the Newcastle club in 1969 (when graded 201).

John Edward Richardson (1923 - 22 October 1949). British Boys' (Under 18) Champion, April 1940 (at his fourth attempt, acc. BCM). Attended Stowe School, Bucks, from where he won an open exhibition in history to Jesus College, Cambridge. "It is difficult to realise it is five [sic] years since Stowe schoolboy Jack Richardson won the last British Boys' Championship. In 1941, he confirmed this early promise by defeating Imre Konig, the Hungarian-born Yugoslav expert, in a six-game match. Now, A/B Richardson is serving on a destroyer in foreign waters. Post-war chess should find well to the fore." (CHESS, Sept 1944, p189). "I've just received an email from ... the Old Stoic's (Stowe old boys) office who told me that John Edward Richardson died aged 26 on 22nd October 1949." (Jon D'Souza-Eva, English Chess Forum, 11 Oct 2010) Died on 22 October 1949 in Bromley, according to BMD records, but in Italy according to the Old Stoics' Magazine for December 1949. Funeral held in Redstone Cemetery, Reigate - coincidentally where another British junior chess champion Jessie Gilbert (1987-2006) is buried.

Arthur Leslie Roy Perry (1921-2003). From the Shropshire, Malvern area. No other info.

Christopher Thurston Rivington (1920-2018). One of the (Thurston) Rivington book-trade dynasty. Attended Radley College. Served as a Lieutenant, RNVR 1941-6, and was Master of the Stationers' Company in 1983. No chess references.

Hugh Desmond Bullock (1922-1949). Born abt June 1922, Chertsey, died 25 July 1949, Zermatt, Switzerland, lived Guildford. [BCM, Sept 1949, p321] Guildford C.C. has lost one of its strongest players by the death of Mr. Hugh Desmond Bullock, following a mountaineering accident in Switzerland. Mr. H. D. Bullock, who was a younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Somerset Bullock, was educated at Winchester and Cambridge. He was first introduced to the Guildford club in his schooldays and quickly established himself as a strong player. In 1947-8 he won the club championship, being the youngest player to win this event. His friendliness and personal charm endeared him to all members and his opinions were valued by veterans of the game. He served as an officer in the army during the war and was 27 when he died. Hugh Desmond Bullock was the son of Herbert Somerset Bullock (1871-1963), who played for Cambridge in the 1892 Varsity match. Matric. 1940 (Pembroke records).

John Harley-Mason (1920-2003), Sc.D., Fellow (organic chemistry), Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (from 1947). Corpus has a Harley-Mason collection of 18th/19th century books). BCM, Jan 1942, p8, gives Harley-Mason's college as 'Trinity'. It might also have been Trinity Hall; but Gaige says Corpus. Difficult to know which is right JH-M was certainly a fellow of Corpus but he might conceivably have been an undergrad at Trinity [Hall]. Photo of John Harley-Mason.

Guy Edgar Schubert (b 4 June 1922, Sofia, Bulgaria, d 24 May 1943, Netherlands). Lived at 37 Trinity Street, Cambridge, in 1941. "SCHUBERT - Previously reported missing from air operations, now known to have lost his life in May, 1943, and buried with his crew in Holland, GUY EDGAR SCHUBERT, B.A., Trinity College, Cambridge, R.A.F., aged 20, dearly beloved elder son of G[eza] O[tto] Schubert and Vera Schubert, and brother of Reginald, of Castle Field, Calne, Wiltshire."
(14-12-1943, Andrews Newspaper Index Card) Rank: Sergeant Trade: Pilot Service No:1334705 Date of Death:24/05/1943 Age:20 Regiment/Service:Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 78 Squadron. (Flying a Halifax bomber) Grave Reference: Row B. Coll. grave 3-7. Cemetery: WIERDEN GENERAL CEMETERY.

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