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John Saunders


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Tournament: 130th Varsity Match • Venue: RAC Club, Pall Mall, London • Date: 3 March 2012
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John Saunders reports: The 130th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford University and Cambridge University was held at the RAC Club, Pall Mall, London on 3 March 2012. The match sponsor was Henry Mutkin and match arbiter was David Sedgwick.

2011«     2012 Varsity Chess Match     »2013
Bd Oxford University Rating Nat 3½-4½ Cambridge University Rating Nat
1b Ravindran Shanmugam (Balliol) 2409m SIN ½-½ Rafe Martyn (Corpus Christi) 2267f ENG
2w David Zakarian (St Antony's) 2379 ARM 1-0 Vytautas Gruslys (Christ's) 2306e ENG
3b Athanasios Tsanas (St Cross) 2295 GRE 1-0 Adam Scibior (Trinity) 2202 POL
4w Dominic Foord (New) 2039 ENG 0-1 Audrey Kueh (Trinity) 2170e ENG
5b Steffen Schaper (Exeter) 2146e GER ½-½ George Salimbeni (Jesus) 2144 ENG
6w Chris A Smith (Hertford) 2098e ENG ½-½ Sven Quist (Homerton) 2142c GER
7b Michael Rabbitte (Christ Church) 2027 ENG 0-1 Vedantha Kumar (Clare) 1990 ENG
8w Nicole Miranda Gonzalez (Mansfield) 2027 CHI 0-1 Ilya Iyengar (Emmanuel) 1977 ENG
  Av. Rating 2173     3½-4½ Av. Rating 2151    

Captains were Ravindran Shanmugam (Oxford) and Tom Glover (Cambridge). The match commenced at 12.30pm, with the time control set at 40 moves in 2 hours, followed by one hour for all remaining moves.

After the glut of time scrambles in 2011, an army of five international arbiters was present for the match, but there were fewer time scrambles in 2012. Games 1 and 6 were the first (drawn) results and then Cambridge took the lead by winning board 7. Oxford struck back on board 2 to level it at 2-2 but eventually Cambridge made it 4-2 in their favour when they won boards 4 and 8.

George Salimbeni might have sealed victory for the light blues just before the time trouble when his opponent offered him a draw but he was unaware of the overall match situation and spurned the offer. This game and that on board 3 lasted much longer than the others, with Oxford eventually winning on board 3. This meant board 5 became critical to the overall match score. But Steffen Schaper, playing his sixth match, was unable to win, so Cambridge had the half point they needed to tie up their 57th win in the series. So the gap widens to four wins between the two. The Bob Wade prize went to the Armenian player David Zakarian for the second year running, while the best game prize went to Audrey Kueh of Cambridge.

The overall scores in the series (which started in 1873) are Cambridge 57 wins, Oxford 53 wins and 20 drawn matches.

© 2012 John Saunders, all photos and text - not to be used without permission