© 1997-2024
John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: 120th Varsity Match • Venue: RAC Club, Pall Mall, London • Date: 9 March 2002
Download PGNList of Varsity Matches • Back to 2001 • Forward to 2003 • updated: Tuesday February 20, 2024 9:24 AM

John Saunders reports: The 120th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at the RAC Club, Pall Mall, London on 9 March 2002. The match sponsors were Tony Buzan and Henry Mutkin. Match arbiters were IM Bob Wade and David Sedgwick.

2001«     2002 Varsity Chess Match     »2003
Bd Oxford University Rating Nat 2002 Cambridge University Rating Nat
1w Richard Palliser (Worcester) 2443m ENG ½-½ Eddie Dearing (Peterhouse) 2343 SCO
2b Andrew Bigg (Jesus) 2250 ENG 0-1 James Vigus (Clare) 2311f ENG
3w Melanie Buckley (St Hilda's) 2147wm ENG ½-½ Joe Conlon (Christ's) 2170 ENG
4b Joel Eklund (University) 2200e SWE 1-0 David Hodge (Trinity) 2163 ENG
5w Harvey Meyer (Lincoln) 2200 SUI ½-½ Ben Morgan (Magdalene) 2200 ENG
6b Daniel Gunlycke (Merton) 2100e USA ½-½ Andreas Domnick (St John's) 2185 GER
7w Kemal Ozeren (Balliol) 2100e ENG 0-1 Oliver Cooley (Trinity) 2091 ENG
8b Kieran Smallbone (New) 2050 ENG 1-0 Rosalind Kieran (Newnham) 2079wf ENG
  Av. Rating 2186.2     4-4 Av. Rating 2192.7    

On rating the two teams were very similar this year, but many of the pundits predicted an Oxford victory.

But Cambridge it was who took the lead with James Vigus's win against Andrew Bigg, with drawn games following on boards 3, 5 and 6. Richard Palliser looked to be better on board one but couldn't find a way past Eddie Dearing's stout defence. Then Oxford staged a come-back with Kieran Smallbone's win on board eight, and it looked very likely that they would go on to win the match as Joel Eklund had a won position and Kemal Ozeren seemed to be drawing comfortably. After the time control Joel Eklund duly scored the win to take Oxford into a 4-3 lead, but Kemal Ozeren succumbed to the pressure and some determined and resourceful play from Oliver Cooley, who overcame him in a nail-biting 91-move bishop and pawns endgame to level the match. So Cambridge still lead the overall series by the margin of four wins.

Much of the day's entertainment stemmed from the fact that the Cambridge team left the trophy on the train on the way to the match. A frantic series of phone calls revealed that the prized gold Margaret Pugh Trophy had been found by rail officials, shipped back to Cambridge and left in the hands of the local constabulary. Someone bravely volunteered to make the trip to Cambridge to retrieve it so that it could be presented at the prize-giving in the evening. What had seemed like a routine 45-minute trip to the university city turned into a nightmare for him as the railway line was blocked by a tree across the line. Many hours later, just as the prize-giving was underway, he returned clutching the trophy to the universal acclaim of the assembled audience. As Tony Buzan quipped: "So Cambridge became the first team to lose, regain and then draw for the trophy, all on the same day!"

File Updated

Date Notes
March 2002 First uploaded.

© 2002 John Saunders, all photos and text - not to be used without permission