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John Saunders


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Tournament: 91st Varsity Match • Venue: RAC, Pall Mall, London • Date: 24 March 1973
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The 91st Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at the RAC, Pall Mall, London, on 24 March 1973. Match arbiters were Harry Golombek and Bob Wade. Three game scores from this match are available - can anyone supply any of the others?

1972«     1973 Varsity Chess Match     »1974
Bd Oxford University 1973 Cambridge University
1b John Denis Martin Nunn (Oriel) 0-1 Michael Frank Stean (Trinity)
2w Robert Walter Lambert Moberly (New) 1-0 Peter Arnold Linnell (Trinity Hall)
3b Martin Fleury (Jesus) 0-1 Alan Garth Trangmar (Trinity)
4w Geoffrey Thomas Haigh (Christ Church) 0-1 Richard Bailey (Selwyn)
5b Sean Thrower (St Catherine's) 1-0 Ronald Leslie Johannes (Emmanuel)
6w Gareth David Pearce (Balliol) 0-1 John Grantley Cooper (Caius)
7b Jim Burnett (University) 1-0 Andrew Colin Cooper (Trinity Hall)

Sources: Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987), compiled by Jeremy Gaige, Philadelphia 1987; The Times, 26 March 1973; BCM, April 1973, p145


(BCM, April 1973, p145) "Assiduous readers of 'One Hundred Years Ago' will have observed last month that it is one hundred years since the first Oxford and Cambridge University chess match was played. That first match must have been well publicised since it was attended by some 700 spectators, but the organisers of the centenary match, overcome no doubt by excessive feelings of modesty, maintained an impenetrable veil of secrecy over the venue, time and date of the match until within a week of its taking place.

"This seems a pity, since the venue, the R.A.C. Club in Pall Mall, London, was an excellent one and the chess was most interesting, certainly better than the original 700 must have seen.

"The match was held on Saturday afternoon on March 24th and, though the teams were lacking in some of the best known names such as Keene and Hartston who were no longer eligible to play, still the quality of play was not really inferior to that of previous years.. The titbit of the day was undoubtedly the encounter on top board where two of the best junior players in the country were playing, Nunn for Oxford and Stean for Cambridge. This, like over half the games of the match, was unfinished when time was called and it meant that we adjudicators (Bob Wade and myself) were grossly overworked and left with the feeling that we had played most of the match ourselves. However, in every instance the issue really was clear and beyond any doubt so that when our deliberations were at an end it became apparent that a close match had just gone in favour of Cambridge by 4-3."

"Now, it is to be assumed that on top board White deliberately went in for the English Opening, out of malice prepense, as one might say; but on the second board. and I have the player's own word for this, White went in for the English Opening out of desperation. It seems too that something of the same mood possessed him on his 21st move when he made a sacrifice of the exchange which his opponent, perhaps rightly incensed, characterised as 'ridiculous'. Whether this was a just epithet or no I refuse to determine but it must be confessed that the sacrificer was lucky to win. His opponent made an indifferent 23rd move and a still worse 24th, after which the game came to a summary end."

"In the post mortem [of Moberly-Linnell] both players agreed 24 R-Q1 was better than the move actually played and in fact, after the victor had departed, the vanquished discovered the even more effective 24...RxN!"

"According to Omar Khayam, whom I suspect to have been a good, if somewhat shallow, chess-player, it is all the fault of that moving finger." (Golombek, BCM)

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