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John Saunders

 

John Saunders's Chess Pages

Varsity Chess Matches 1873-present: Oxford University versus Cambridge University

List compiled by John Saunders - please report any errors spotted to me. Last edited: Wednesday April 27, 2022 4:35 PM

1873 Varsity Match: Oxford vs Cambridge
The first Oxford vs Cambridge Varsity Chess Match, 1873 (image from the Illustrated London News, 5 April 1873, p325)

1. Biographies of Varsity Chess match competitors
2. Alphabetical list of Oxford players
3. Alphabetical list of Cambridge players
4. Origins of the Varsity Chess Match

This part of BritBase is dedicated to Timothy Whitworth (1932-2019) who, knowing my interest in the Varsity chess match, sent me a copy of Jeremy Gaige's booklet Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987) out of the blue some years ago. This slim volume, to which Timothy himself contributed a great deal of research, has been of inestimable value in compiling information about this annual chess fixture, which is effectively a continuation of Gaige and Whitworth's original work.

Varsity Chess Match: Games Viewer and PGN Download

Download a PGN file of all available Varsity Match games (780 game entries - some are stubs or positions from games - updated 19 April 2022)


Varsity Chess Match Results

Click on the year in column 2 below for games viewer/PGN, match reports and biographical information
[note - this is a work in progress and will take some time to complete]

Click on the heading to sort according to that key - click again to reverse the sort
No. Year Score Winners Oxf Wins Camb Wins Draws Venue Notes
136 2018 5-3 Oxford 55 59 22 London, RAC  
137 2019 4½-3½ Oxford 56 59 22 London, RAC Participation of women's world champion Hou Yifan
138 2020 2½-5½ Cambridge 56 60 22 London, RAC  
139 2021 5½-2½ Oxford 57 60 22 London, RAC Held in October for the first time due to pandemic
140 2022 4½-3½ Oxford 58 60 22 London, RAC  
No. Year Score Winners Oxf Wins Camb Wins Draws Venue Notes
1 1873 10-3 Oxford 1 0 0 City of London CC 6pm - 11pm, two games if poss, adjudicator Steinitz
2 1874 4-16 Cambridge 1 1 0 City of London CC Staunton attended. Some doubt as to the final score - either 4-16 or 5-15.
3 1875 6-11 Cambridge 1 2 0 City of London CC  
4 1876 12-5 Oxford 2 2 0 West End CC 1pm start time, smaller attendance
5 1877 9-3 Oxford 3 2 0 St George's CC King's Street, St James's.
6 1878 2-10 Cambridge 3 3 0 St George's CC  
7 1879 5½-6½ Cambridge 3 4 0 St George's CC  
8 1880 1-12 Cambridge 3 5 0 St George's CC  
9 1881 5½-6½ Cambridge 3 6 0 St George's CC  
10 1882 5½-7½ Cambridge 3 7 0 St George's CC  
11 1883 5½-5½ Drawn 3 7 1 St George's CC  
12 1884 4½-5½ Cambridge 3 8 1 St George's CC  
13 1885 5½-6½ Cambridge 3 9 1 St George's CC  
14 1886 6½-3½ Oxford 4 9 1 St George's CC  
15 1887 5-7 Cambridge 4 10 1 St George's CC  
16 1888 7½-2½ Oxford 5 10 1 British CC Clocks used for 1st time (previously hourglasses optional)
17 1889 7-3 Oxford 6 10 1 British CC First Oxford Past vs Cambridge Past match held.
18 1890 3½-4½ Cambridge 6 11 1 British CC  
19 1891 4-5 Cambridge 6 12 1 British CC First appearance of HE Atkins.
20 1892 1½-5½ Cambridge 6 13 1 British CC 1 game per board played (this rule enforced from 1893)
21 1893 1-6 Cambridge 6 14 1 British CC One game only - clocks made compulsory.
22 1894 3-4 Cambridge 6 15 1 British CC  
23 1895 4-3 Oxford 7 15 1 British CC no clocks used
24 1896 4-3 Oxford 8 15 1 British CC  
25 1897 4-3 Oxford 9 15 1 British CC  
26 1898 3-4 Cambridge 9 16 1 British CC  
27 1899 1½-5½ Cambridge 9 17 1 British CC  
28 1900 2½-4½ Cambridge 9 18 1 British CC  
29 1901 3½-3½ Drawn 9 18 2 British CC  
30 1902 1½-5½ Cambridge 9 19 2 British CC  
31 1903 2½-4½ Cambridge 9 20 2 St George's CC Pillsbury acted as adjudicator.
32 1904 2½-4½ Cambridge 9 21 2 St George's CC Cambridge lead in the series by 12 matches - the greatest extent to date
33 1905 4½-2½ Oxford 10 21 2 St George's CC  
34 1906 4½-2½ Oxford 11 21 2 St George's CC  
35 1907 3½-3½ Drawn 11 21 3 St George's CC  
36 1908 4-3 Oxford 12 21 3 St George's CC  
37 1909 4½-2½ Oxford 13 21 3 St George's CC  
38 1910 2½-4½ Cambridge 13 22 3 St George's CC  
39 1911 4½-2½ Oxford 14 22 3 City of London CC  
40 1912 4-3 Oxford 15 22 3 City of London CC  
41 1913 6½-½ Oxford 16 22 3 City of London CC  
42 1914 4½-2½ Oxford 17 22 3 City of London CC  
  1915             No contest
  1916             No contest
  1917             No contest
  1918             No contest
43 1919 0-7 Cambridge 17 23 3 Oxford First time held outside London
44 1920 3½-3½ Drawn 17 23 4 City of London CC  
45 1921 5-2 Oxford 18 23 4 City of London CC  
46 1922 4-3 Oxford 19 23 4 City of London CC  
47 1923 5-2 Oxford 20 23 4 City of London CC  
48 1924 4½-2½ Oxford 21 23 4 City of London CC  
49 1925 4-3 Oxford 22 23 4 City of London CC  
50 1926 2½-4½ Cambridge 22 24 4 City of London CC  
51 1927 4-3 Oxford 23 24 4 City of London CC  
52 1928 2½-4½ Cambridge 23 25 4 City of London CC  
53 1929 3½-3½ Drawn 23 25 5 City of London CC  
54 1930 4-3 Oxford 24 25 5 City of London CC  
55 1931 3½-3½ Drawn 24 25 6 City of London CC  
56 1932 3-4 Cambridge 24 26 6 City of London CC  
57 1933 5-2 Oxford 25 26 6 City of London CC  
58 1934 3½-3½ Drawn 25 26 7 City of London CC  
59 1935 3½-3½ Drawn 25 26 8 City of London CC  
60 1936 1-6 Cambridge 25 27 8 City of London CC  
61 1937 3-4 Cambridge 25 28 8 City of London CC  
62 1938 4-3 Oxford 26 28 8 City of London CC  
63 1939 3-4 Cambridge 26 29 8 City of London CC  
Unofficial 1940 3½-3½ Drawn       Cambridge, St Johns Unofficial match
Unofficial 1941 4-3 Oxford       Oxford, Balliol Unofficial match
Unofficial 1942 4½-2½ Oxford       not known Unofficial match
  1943             No contest
Unofficial 1944 3½-3½ Drawn       Oxford Unofficial match
Unofficial 1945 1½-5½ Cambridge       Cambridge Unofficial match
64 1946 4½-2½ Oxford 27 29 8 London, St Bride's  
65 1947 3½-3½ Drawn 27 29 9 London, St Bride's Acc. D Jones, West London CC acc. BCM
66 1948 5½-1½ Oxford 28 29 9 London, West London CC  
67 1949 6-1 Oxford 29 29 9 London Wall Oxford level in the series for the first time since 1878
68 1950 2½-4½ Cambridge 29 30 9 London, West London CC  
69 1951 3½-3½ Drawn 29 30 10 London, West London CC  
70 1952 4½-2½ Oxford 30 30 10 London West London CC  
71 1953 5-2 Oxford 31 30 10 London, National CC Margaret Pugh Trophy introduced. Oxford ahead for 1st time since 1877
72 1954 3½-3½ Drawn 31 30 11 London, West London CC  
73 1955 3-4 Cambridge 31 31 11 London, St Brides  
74 1956 4-3 Oxford 32 31 11 London, St Brides  
75 1957 3½-3½ Drawn 32 31 12 London, Hampstead  
76 1958 1½-5½ Cambridge 32 32 12 London, RAC  
77 1959 3½-3½ Drawn 32 32 13 London, RAC  
78 1960 3½-3½ Drawn 32 32 14 London, RAC  
79 1961 3½-3½ Drawn 32 32 15 London, University of London Union  
80 1962 4½-2½ Oxford 33 32 15 London, ULU  
81 1963 4-3 Oxford 34 32 15 London, ULU Oxford lead the series by two match wins for the first time ever.
82 1964 3½-3½ Drawn 34 32 16 London, ULU  
83 1965 5½-1½ Oxford 35 32 16 London, ULU Oxford lead the series by 3 matches - their greatest lead to date
84 1966 3½-3½ Drawn 35 32 17 London, Atlantic House  
85 1967 1½-5½ Cambridge 35 33 17 London, ULU  
86 1968 2-5 Cambridge 35 34 17 London, ULU  
87 1969 4½-2½ Oxford 36 34 17 London, ULU  
88 1970 3-4 Cambridge 36 35 17 Cambridge, Downing  
89 1971 2-5 Cambridge 36 36 17 Oxford, Christ Church  
90 1972 1½-5½ Cambridge 36 37 17 Cambridge, Jesus Cambridge lead the series for first time since 1951
91 1973 3-4 Cambridge 36 38 17 London, RAC Centenary match
92 1974 2½-4½ Cambridge 36 39 17 Oxford, Corpus  
93 1975 1-6 Cambridge 36 40 17 Cambridge, Christ's  
94 1976 2½-4½ Cambridge 36 41 17 Oxford, Corpus  
95 1977 1½-5½ Cambridge 36 42 17 Cambridge, Caius Last year in which unfinished games were adjudicated by match referee.
96 1978 2½-4½ Cambridge 36 43 17 London, RAC Women's board added - but only counts for tie-breaks
97 1979 3½-4½ Cambridge 36 44 17 London, RAC Women's board result counted as tie-breaker
98 1980 3-4 Cambridge 36 45 17 London, RAC Cambridge's 11th consecutive win put them ahead by 9 wins
99 1981 6-2* Oxford 37 45 17 London, RAC * the 'ladies' board' did not count as part of the match, yet BCM, Times & Guardian record the match score as 6-2 and not 5½-1½ - JS
100 1982 5-3 Oxford 38 45 17 London, RAC 100th match. Women's board result counts as of right.
101 1983 6-2 Oxford 39 45 17 London, RAC  
102 1984 4½-3½ Oxford 40 45 17 London, RAC  
103 1985 5-3 Oxford 41 45 17 London, RAC  
104 1986 5½-2½ Oxford 42 45 17 London, RAC  
105 1987 5-3 Oxford 43 45 17 London, RAC  
106 1988 4½-3½ Oxford 44 45 17 London, RAC Oxford's best run of wins - 8 in a row
107 1989 2½-5½ Cambridge 44 46 17 London, RAC  
108 1990 5-3 Oxford 45 46 17 London, RAC  
109 1991 5½-2½ Oxford 46 46 17 London, RAC  
110 1992 6-2 Oxford 47 46 17 London, RAC Oxford's first lead in the series since 1970. Female player on board 7
111 1993 5½-2½ Oxford 48 46 17 London, RAC  
112 1994 3½-4½ Cambridge 48 47 17 London, RAC  
113 1995 2-6 Cambridge 48 48 17 London, RAC  
114 1996 3-5 Cambridge 48 49 17 London, RAC Cambridge regain match lead (which they have retained subsequently)
115 1997 2½-5½ Cambridge 48 50 17 London, RAC  
116 1998 5-3 Oxford 49 50 17 London, RAC  
117 1999 2½-5½ Cambridge 49 51 17 London, RAC  
118 2000 3½-4½ Cambridge 49 52 17 London, RAC Two women contest board one. Live coverage & commentary.
119 2001 2½-5½ Cambridge 49 53 17 London, RAC  
120 2002 4-4 Drawn 49 53 18 London, RAC First drawn match since 1966. Cambridge leave trophy on the train!
121 2003 1½-6½ Cambridge 49 54 18 London, RAC  
122 2004 6-2 Oxford 50 54 18 London, RAC  
123 2005 3-5 Cambridge 50 55 18 London, RAC  
124 2006 4½-3½ Oxford 51 55 18 London, RAC  
125 2007 3-5 Cambridge 51 56 18 London, RAC  
126 2008 4-4 Drawn 51 56 19 London, RAC  
127 2009 5-3 Oxford 52 56 19 London, RAC  
128 2010 4-4 Drawn 52 56 20 London, RAC  
129 2011 4½-3½ Oxford 53 56 20 London, RAC  
130 2012 3½-4½ Cambridge 53 57 20 London, RAC  
131 2013 3½-4½ Cambridge 53 58 20 London, RAC  
132 2014 4-4 Drawn 53 58 21 London, RAC  
133 2015 4-4 Drawn 53 58 22 London, RAC Electronic boards used.
134 2016 2-6 Cambridge 53 59 22 London, RAC  
135 2017 4½-3½ Oxford 54 59 22 London, RAC chess24.com live coverage

Varsity Match Records (after 2022 match)

Teams  
Oxford wins 58
Cambridge wins 60
Drawn 22
Oxford - total game points 548½ (but see note against 1981 match)
Cambridge - total game points 574½
Longest run of wins - Oxford 8 (1981-88)
Longest run of wins - Cambridge 11 (1970-80)
Longest unbeaten run - Oxford 8 (1981-88) as above plus 1959-66
Longest unbeaten - run Cambridge 11 (1970-80) as above
Biggest Margin - Oxford (multi-game matches in brackets) 6½-½ in 1913 (10-3 in 1873, 12-5 in 1876)
Biggest Margin - Cambridge (multi-game matches in brackets) 7-0 in 1919 (16-4 in 1874)
Oxford - leaders in the series in terms of most matches won 1873, 1877, 1953-54, 1956-57, 1962-70, 1992-94
Cambridge - leaders in the series (ditto) 1875, 1879-1948, 1950-51, 1972-90, 1996-present (2022)
(n.b. Cambridge's game points have been greater than Oxford's since 1878)
No of Players
Total - Oxford 486
Total - Cambridge 506
Most appearances - Oxford 6 - Kieran Smallbone
Most appearances - Cambridge 6 - John Neville Keynes, James Vigus, David Hodge, Rafe Martyn
Most games played 13 - John Neville Keynes (Cambridge, 1873-78), 12 - Campbell Tracey (Oxford, 1874-77)
Most wins 8 - John Neville Keynes (Cambridge, 1873-78), 6 - Samuel Redhead Meredith (Oxford, 1873-76)
Most losses 6 - Campbell Tracey (Oxford, 1874-77), Walter William Rouse Ball (Cambridge, 1873-77), (Sir) Richard Whieldon Barnett (Oxford, 1884-88)
Most draws 4 - Edward Lancelot Raymond (Cambridge, 1881-84); 14 players have drawn 3 games, most recently Gordon Scott (Oxford, 2014-19)
100% scores (3 or more games) 4/4 - Tom Brown (Oxford, 1988-93); John Dean (Cambridge, 1936-39); Cecil Tattersall (Cambridge 1897-1900); Edward Mackenzie Jackson (Oxford, 1888-90); Frederick Mortimer Young (Cambridge 1882-86); 18 players have scored 3/3, most recently Daniel Fernandez (Cambridge, 2015-17), Howard Chiu (Oxford, 2013-15), Luke McShane (Oxford, 2004-07), Joel Eklund (Oxford, 2000-02), Nathan Alfred (Cambridge, 1999-2001), Matthew Piper (Oxford, 1991-93), Jonathan Levitt (Oxford, 1983-85), John Cox (Oxford, 1982-84), Jane Anson (Cambridge, 1978-80), Michael Stean (Cambridge, 1973-75), John B Sykes (Oxford, 1949-51) and Dennis M Horne (Oxford, 1947-49)
0% scores (3 or more games) 0/4 - Andrew Hon (Cambridge, 1992-95), Arthur Hereford Wykeham George (Oxford, 1897-1900), Cecil Warburton (Cambridge, 1886-88). 11 players have scored 0/3: Nicholas Jakubovics (Cambridge, 1992-94), Jonathan Wilson (Cambridge, 1990-92), David Watts (Cambridge, 1986-88), David Lawson (Cambridge, 1985-87 - but scored 2/3 for Oxford, 1988-90), Allan Beardsworth (Cambridge, 1982-84), M Paul Townsend (Cambridge, 1980-82) and four others.
Colleges
Most players from single college - Oxford 46 - Balliol College
Most players from single college - Cambridge 101 - Trinity College
   
Format  
1873-91 7 boards, multiple games played per board
1892-1977 7 boards, single game per board
1978-81 7 boards plus 1 women's board - tie-break only
1982-91 7 boards, 1 women's board, all boards count
1992-present 8 boards (including at least 1 player of each gender per team)

Useful Online Resources for the Varsity Chess Match

Chess Archaelogy: Library - links to online copies of British Chess Magazine (1881-1922), The Chess Monthly (1879/80 - 1895/96); The Chess Players' Chronicle (1877-1891/92) - n.b. some of these files are only directly accessible from within the USA. The ones linked in the table below are available worldwide.

Title Volume Year
BCM Vol.1 1881
BCM Vol.2 1882
BCM Vol.3 1883
BCM Vol.4 1884
BCM Vol.5 1885
BCM Vol.6 1886
BCM Vol.7 1887
BCM Vol.8 1888
BCM Vol.9 1889
BCM Vol.10 1890
BCM Vol.11 1891
BCM Vol.12 1892
BCM Vol.13 1893
BCM Vol.14 1894
BCM Vol.15 1895
BCM Vol.16 1896
The Chess-Monthly Vol.1 1879/80
The Chess-Monthly Vol.2 1880/81
The Chess-Monthly Vol.3 1881/82
The Chess-Monthly Vol.4 1882/83
The Chess-Monthly Vol.5 1883/84
The Chess-Monthly Vol.6 1884/85
The Chess-Monthly Vol.7 1885/86
The Chess-Monthly Vol.8 1886/87
The Chess-Monthly Vol.9 1887/88
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.25 1874
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.1 1877
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.2 1878
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.3 1879
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.4 1880
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.5 1881
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.6 1882
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.7 1883/84
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.8 1884/85
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.9-10 1885/89
Chess Players Chronicle Vol.11-12 1889/92
Huddersfield College Magazine Vol.1 1872
Huddersfield College Magazine Vol.2 1875

File Updated - Game Viewer and PGN Download at top of the page

Date Notes
2018 Began a historical record of Varsity match results, games and reports, year by year (I had been adding records of 21st century Varsity matches since 2000).
3 May 2021 Uploaded a PGN of all extant Varsity match games for the first time.
10 May 2021 PGN file amendments: (1) new game Locock-Morley (Game 2, 1883), replacing the stub with the adjudication position - the complete score is now given; (2) Gunnery-Lester, Board 2, 1890: the list of sources has been updated; (3) Canon A Smith - Black, Board 2, 1930: a note on the final few moves added. My thanks to Brian Denman for all three of these updates.
9 July 2021 We now have the complete score of Morley-Locock (Game 1, 1883), thanks to Brian Denman.
25 October 2021 2021 match scores and games added.
21 December 2021 Added details of the 1933 match.
6 January 2022 Added John Cox's 1982 game vs Stuart Niman and his 1983 game vs Allan Beardsworth. Thanks, John.
14 March 2022 Added the games of the 2022 Varsity match and updated stats and records.
21 March 2022 Added the game R.Chubb 0-1 G.Carruthers, 1913 (board 3) and also corrected the date of the other 1913 game on file to 17.03.1913.
22 March 2022 Added the game H.Mandelbrote 1-0 M.Daniels, 1913 (board 6). Full results for 1912 through to the present now available.
28 March 2022 Added four more games and one part-game from the 1884 Varsity match.
29 March 2022 I've made some considerable additions and changes to the games for the 1885 Varsity match. Note that the score of Barnett 0-1 Young (rd 4) is completely different.
29 March 2022 Five more game scores found for 1886: game total now 768.
7 April 2022 Number of games and part-games in the download is now 779.
14 April 2022 Added the game N.Kalton 1-0 P.S.N. Kendall, 1967, board 6, kindly contributed by Gerard Killoran. Number of games now 780.
19 April 2022 All the games from the 1898 match are now available. (Strictly speaking, one of them, board 7, is cut short at the point where a player gets a hopelessly lost position and a further 20 moves are not given in the source but may be considered complete.)

 

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