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John Saunders


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Event: 73rd Varsity Match • Venue: St Bride's Institute, near Fleet Street, London • Date: 26 March 1955
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1954 • Forward to 1956 • last edited: Monday March 18, 2024 9:58 AM

The 73rd Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at St Bride's Institute, near Fleet Street, London, on 26 March 1955. One game score and one part-game score from this match are available - can anyone supply other game scores?

1954«     1955 Varsity Chess Match     »1956
Bd Oxford University  1955  Cambridge University Opening, No. of Moves
1w Raaphi Persitz (Balliol) 0-1 Peter Darrell Sanderson (Sidney Sussex) Irregular (1.Nh3)
2b Kenneth Leslie Gardner (St John's) 1-0 David Edward Lloyd (Caius)  
3w Thomas Anselm Landry (Pembroke) 1-0 Leon Rosselson (Fitzwilliam) Queen's Indian Def
4b Henry Gerald Mutkin (Wadham) 0-1 Malcolm Frank Collins (Selwyn)  
5w Peter David Robinson (Queen's) 0-1 Denis John Pereira Gray (St John's)  
6b Michael Philip Furmston (Exeter) ½-½ Peter Walker (Pembroke)  
7w Anthony Beckett Bamford (Corpus Christi) ½-½ Peter Maximilian Kraushar (Christ's)  

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; The Times, 28 March 1955; The Guardian, 28 March 1955; BCM, May 1955, p156; CHESS, 2 April 1955, p256.

(1) Games on boards 1, 2, 4 and 5 were adjudicated (The Times)
(2) Gaige gives 'David John Pereira Gray' but it is definitely 'Denis John Pereira Gray' (English & Wales BMD, Wikipedia, etc).

[BCM, May 1955, p156-157 - Golombek] "The seventy-first* [* 73rd by the modern counting] annual match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played at St. Bride's Institute on Saturday, March 26th. An even struggle was expected since though Oxford with Persitz, now one of the best players in the country, on top board and two very promising players on the next two boards was reckoned to be more formidable on top, Cambridge had the more solid team and had had good results earlier in the season.

It did, indeed, turn out to be touch and go and every game was sternly contested, no less than four being unfinished at close of play. Adjudication of these gave Cambridge a narrow but well-justified victory by 4-3, so that they take the lead in the whole series which, up to the present match, had stood at 35-35.

Oxford had White on the odd-numbered boards. On the first board Persitz thought for some twenty minutes before making his first move and then played 1 Kt-KR3 [Nh3], which, if not the worst move on the board, is certainly not one of the best. Sanderson answered sensibly enough and had soon established complete equality, even getting the better of it as the middle-game proceeded and when the game was due for adjudication it was clearly won for the Cambridge player.

Both the Oxford second and third boards always looked like winning. Gardner won a pawn and never relaxed his grip, whilst Landry showed what a promising player he is by winning the best game of the match against determined opposition.

The Cambridge fourth board won a pawn out of some middle-game complications, and held on grimly to his extra material to secure a win on adjudication, the story on the fifth board being very similar.

A blunder by the Cambridge sixth board allowed his opponent to win a pawn and Oxford looked certain to win here until somewhat careless play resulted in the Cambridge player just managing to achieve a drawn position.

If the sixth board had its full complement of errors it was outshone in this respect by the game on the bottom board. Here the Oxford player soon had a won game but frittered away his advantage and even came to a lost ending. Fortunately for Oxford the Cambridge player failed to recognize the state of affairs and offered a draw, which his opponent gratefully accepted. The final position was as in the diagram. Black can simply capture the Bishop's pawn and after 1 K-Q3, P-Kt4 the win is not difficult.

[The Times, 28 March 1955] "UNIVERSITY CHESS MATCH - CAMBRIDGE WIN - FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT - The Seventy-first annual chess match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played in London on Saturday. After a hard fight in which the advantage at first appeared to be with Oxford, Cambridge emerged the winner by 4—3. As the total number of match points stood at 35—35 before this match, Cambridge now lead by one. On the top board Persitz thought for some 20 minutes before making his first move and then played Kt-K R 3 [Nh3], perhaps the most irregular of all irregular openings. His opponent, Sanderson, refused to be shaken, by this excessive originality and, playing steadily and well, attained a won ending. The best game of the match was played on the third board, where Landry soon had a grip on the position which he exploited in admirable fashion. The winner of this game is dearly a most promising player. There was quite a comedy of errors on the bottom board, which ended in a draw. This may perhaps be regarded as a just result, since first the Oxford player established a winning game, then let it slip, and finally his opponent offered a draw in a position that was won for the Cambridge player. The draw was gratefully accepted."

[Manchester Guardian, 28 March 1955 - Barden] "CAMBRIDGE WIN AT CHESS, TOO. Now Leading in Series. From our Chess Correspondent. Cambridge defeated Oxford 4-3 in the University Chess Match in London on Saturday, thus gaining a lead of one in the series of matches. There was little to choose between two evenly balanced teams, and indeed it was five hours before the first game ended. Even this decision was premature, as the Cambridge bottom board, Kraushar, had a forced win when he agreed to a draw. The other completed game, on board three, was the best of the match: Landry gained the advantage in the opening against Rosselson, increased it, and neatly transposed into a won ending. Five of the seven games were unfinished when play stopped after six hours: one was agreed a draw and the other four were adjudicated by H. Golombek, a former British champion. The surprise of the match was the defeat of the Oxford captain, Persitz. who has a fine international record. Last year he won his game while taking only 35 minutes on his clock. This time he considered his first move for twenty minutes and then played 1. Kt-KR3. a move only once previously ventured in an important game. In the blocked position which resulted, his opponent Sanderson gained control of an open file by excellent positional play and forced a decisive gain of material. [full results]"

[CHESS, 2 April 1955, p276] "Cambridge Univ. beat Oxford U. by 4-3 in the famous annual match: [results] Persitz thought for twenty minutes then opened 1.Nh3 - and was in a normal King's Indian within six moves! Kraushar agreed a draw in an easily won position."

BCM, May 1955, p153: "Insurance C. C. ... were beaten 8-12 by the Combined Universities (on top board W. Veitch defeated R. Persitz)... on March 25th the Combined Universities beat the Civil Service C. A. 9½-8½, though on top board R. Persitz lost to R. J. Broadbent."

There must also have been a Combined Universities vs Hampstead match, probably during the week 21-25 March 1955 (Monday to Friday) as attested by the following snippet from Assiac's The Delights of Chess...

Oxford Past v Cambridge Past, 2(?) April 1955

The Times, 4 April 1955: NEWS IN BRIEF • Chess.—Oxford University Past beat Cambridge University Past by 8½-3½ in their annual chess match. [no date or individual results - this exact same report also appended to sports results given in The Times, 21 April 1955]

BCM, May 1955, p153: "Oxford University 'Past' beat Cambridge University 'Past' 8½-3½ in their annual encounter."

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