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John Saunders


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Tournament: 79th Varsity Match • Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street • Date: 18 March 1961
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 1960 • Forward to 1962 • last edited: Monday March 18, 2024 9:44 AM

The 79th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at the University of London Union, Malet Street, London, on 18 March 1961. Only one game score from this match is available (board 1) - can anyone supply others?

1960«     1961 Varsity Chess Match     »1962
Bd Oxford University Version 1 Version 2 Cambridge University Opening, No. of Moves
1w Adrian Swayne Hollis (Christ Church) 1-0 ½-½ Philip James Meade (Queens') Caro-Kann
2b John Walter F May (Queen's) ½-½ 0-1 David Bruce Pennycuick (Clare) Queen's Indian Def
3w William Turner (Lincoln) ½-½ 0-1 Anthony John Bowen (Sidney Sussex) QGD Slav
4b John Kenneth Footner (Queen's) 0-1 1-0 David Graham Wells (Trinity Hall) King's Indian Def
5w John Toothill (Queen's) ½-½ ½-½ Michael Robert Brierley Clarke (Caius) Sicilian
6b Graham Coleridge Taylor (Worcester) 0-1 ½-½ Christopher Baruch Wood (Emmanuel) Sicilian Morra Gambit
7w Christopher George Midgley (Brasenose) 1-0 1-0 Leonard Samuel Sunderland (Clare) Sicilian
    3½-3½ 3½-3½    

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; The Times, 20 Mar 1961; BCM, May 1961, p130; CHESS Vol. 26, no.382, 25 March 1961, p226; The Guardian, 20 March 1961; Philip Meade (game score and photo); Christopher Wood, email 2005; David Pennycuick, email 2018.


N.B. Everyone agrees that the match result was 3½-3½ but there are two very different versions given of the individual scores which make up the match result, depending on whether one is to accept the results as given in the Times, the Guardian, BCM and CHESS (see Version 1 column in the above table) or those given by Jeremy Gaige in his booklet (Version 2 column). I am strongly inclined to believe the Version 1 results as all the contemporary published evidence points in favour of them being right. This is further corroborated by the existence of the game score for board one, showing that White won, the game score being published in the Times, BCM and CHESS. The player of the Black pieces in this game, Philip Meade, has confirmed this to me – and David Pennycuick has confirmed to me that he drew his game on board two. Other than the Gaige booklet (published in the 1980s), the only testimony I have received which points to version 2 is that of Christopher Wood, who remembers drawing his game, thus conforming with the Gaige version. I would welcome any further evidence that is forthcoming. JS

1962 Cambridge University chess team
Cambridge University 1960-61. Back row, left to right: DG Wells, MRB Clarke, CB Wood, LS Sunderland.
Front row, left to right: PJ Meade, DB Pennycuick, AJ Bowen.
Photo kindly lent by Philip Meade.

[The Times, 20 March 1961] INTER-UNIVERSITY CHESS FROM A CHESS CORRESPONDENT "Oxford and Cambridge Universities chess teams drew in their annual match over seven boards for the third consecutive year when they met at London University on Saturday. Each side scored two wins and three draws. When the morning session ended Oxford hopes of a victory were high. In a number of games they already held distinct advantages. The second session saw a .change in the Oxford fortunes after fluctuating play. It began auspiciously for Oxford on Board 1, where Hollis, the Oxford captain, who played in imaginative style, quickly wound up his game to a crisp win. On Board 2, however, the Oxford player May, who had obtained a promising centralized position with the black pieces, chose a passive continuation and saved a half point only with difficulty. On Board 3 the Oxford player Turner also drifted into the worst of the position but was able to draw. The fourth board saw the first victory for Cambridge, with Wells winning his game in 34 moves. With excellent positional judgment he sacrificed a pawn to expose weaknesses in his opponent Footner's position. On Board 5 the Oxford player Toothill had conducted the opening in excellent style to force weaknesses in Clarke's king's side position. Clarke fought back in enterprising fashion in a rook and queen game and eventually seized the opportunity to draw by perpetual check. Board 6 was a disaster for Oxford owing to the cool defence of the Cambridge freshman Wood who farsightedly exploited his counter chances against Taylor. The second Oxford win was scored on the seventh board where in a game of inaccuracies the Cambridge player resigned when about to lose a piece after a flurry of exchanges."

[BCM, May 1961, p130-1 - report by Bruce Hayden]"The annual match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities was drawn for the third consecutive year when it was played on March 18th at the London University Union building. The adjournment for lunch provided the truth of the Tartakower dictum that the mistakes are all on the board waiting to be made and the subsequent afternoon's play showed the truth of another maxim of the famous grand master-commentator-that it is the final mistake which decides the game.

"Oxford held the advantage on the majority of the boards when the first session ended but the resumption saw fluctuations in positional advantages as the result of uneven play. The two exceptions were on the top board where the talented Oxford captain, Hollis, went off to lunch leaving the onlookers pondering on the continuation he was to adopt to capitalize on an imaginative pawn sacrifice, and on Board 4 where Wells also sacrificed a pawn this time for Cambridge, to expose weaknesses in his opponent's position. Hollis returned to expose Meade's King fatally in a fierce onslaught, the game lasting only eight more moves, and Wells continued to keep up the pressure to win later on.

"These two games were undoubtedly the best in this year's encounter. The results were as follows, Oxford having the move on the odd-numbered boards." (Note - BCM, January 1961, p10, refers to the forthcoming Oxford-Cambridge match taking place on 18 March 1961 at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London SW1, but all the post-match reports make it clear it was held at the University of London Union)

[CHESS Vol. 26, no.382, 25 March 1961, p226] ""Oxford and Cambridge Universities drew their annual match over seven boards for the third consecutive year when they met at London University on March 18th. Cambridge thus keep the lead of one match which they are believed to have established over the seventy-nine match series; “believed”, because some of the earlier records are hazy. When the morning session ended Oxford hopes of a victory were high. In a number of games they already held distinct advantages. The second session saw a change in fortunes after fluctuating play. On Board 1 Hollis, the Oxford captain, played in imaginative style, quickly registering a crisp win. Board 6, the last to finish, was contested between the only two freshmen. Taylor won a pawn from the opening but blundered in time pressure."

[The Guardian, 20 March 1961] "University draw - Oxford and Cambridge drew their annual chess match on Saturday 3½ each. This was the third draw in succession, and on each occasion Oxford have been overhauled when apparently in a winning position. [results] Hollis again showed that he is one of the best university players of recent years by an elegant attacking win, and Midgley also won prettily and quickly. Cambridge improved their position when Wells patiently exploited his opponent’s
weak pawns, but they still looked lost until Taylor, badly short of time, threw away and easily drawn queen and pawn
ending. One can hardly criticise him, however, in view of the far greater mishandling of a similar ending in Moscow on the same day*." * reference to Tal-Botvinnik, 2nd match game, 1960, where Botvinnik blundered the game four moves after resumption. The score of this game appeared on the same page.

"I clearly remember drawing in 1961." (Chris Wood, son of Baruch H Wood, email to JS, 27 Oct 2005)

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