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John Saunders


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Tournament: 125th Varsity Match • Venue: RAC Club, Pall Mall, London • Date: 10 March 2007
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John Saunders reports: The 125th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at the RAC Club, Pall Mall, London on 10 March 2007. The match sponsors were Peter Musgrave (on behalf of Vantis Business and tax advisers) and Henry Mutkin. Match arbiters were IM Bob Wade and David Sedgwick.

2006«     2007 Varsity Chess Match     »2008
Bd Oxford University Rating Nat 2007 Cambridge University Rating Nat
1w Luke McShane (University) 2615g ENG 1-0 David Hodge (Trinity) 2183 ENG
2b Olena Boytsun (St Antony's) 2281wm UKR 0-1 Duane Rowe (Wolfson) 2203 JAM
3w Alvar Kangur (Pembroke) 2231 EST 0-1 Thomas Nixon (Sidney Sussex) 2189 ENG
4b Tom Eckersley-Waites (Keble) 2159 ENG 1-0 Richard Mycroft (Jesus) 2141 ENG
5w Robert Heaton (St Catherine's) 2095 ENG 0-1 Adam Eckersley-Waites (Queens') 2167 ENG
6b Steffen Schaper (Exeter) 2159 GER 0-1 Gustav Holzegel (Hughes Hall) 2180 GER
7w Chris Rawlinson (Somerville) 2063 ENG ½-½ Andreas Werner (Wolfson) 2074 GER
8b Edward Stembridge (Balliol) 2002 ENG ½-½ Elizabeth Roberts (Jesus) 1500e ENG
  Av. Rating 2200.6     3-5 Av. Rating 2079.6    

Cambridge pulled off a surprise win to increase their series lead to 56 wins to Oxford's 51, with 18 matches drawn. Sean Yip (Peterhouse) captained the CUCC team, while Herve Hansen (Queen's) captained OUCC. The Oxford reserve was Michael Healey (University, 2012) and the Cambridge reserve was Sean Yip. The time limit was 40 moves in 2 hours, followed by all the moves in 1 hour.

The match was opened by Peter Andrews who played for Oxford in the 1970s. Amongst those who attended during the afternoon and evening: Sir Jeremy Hanley, Julian and Lizette Hodgson, Peter Lee, Shaun Taulbut, Ray Keene, Bill Hartston, Richard Eales, Stewart Reuben and Michael Stean.

Best Game (Oxford): Tom Eckersley-Waites. Best game (Cambridge): Duane Rowe.

This was the 32nd time that the match was held at the RAC Club, according to Henry Mutkin. Oxford University, led by super-GM Luke McShane and Ukrainian WIM Olena Boytsun were widely expected to beat Cambridge, who had only one player with a 2200+ rating, but it was the Light Blues who pulled off a surprise win. Cambridge University thus won by 5-3. Jamaican international Duane Rowe struck a heavy blow for Cambridge, crushing Olena Boytsun in only 18 moves, and this seemed to inspire his colleagues. Tom Eckersley-Waites levelled the scores for Oxford, but his twin brother Adam, plus the Cambridge boards three and six put Cambridge 4-1 ahead. This meant that they could not lose but the remaining three boards looked good for Oxford.

Luke McShane duly cashed in his 432(!) rating point differential, but Cambridge's bottom board Elizabeth Roberts made light of a 502 rating difference to draw from a bad position to give Cambridge the half point they needed to clinch the match.

© 2007 John Saunders, all photos and text - not to be used without permission