Latest News:

Oxford wins against Cambridge and Oxford club

Friday, 11 May 2018 - by Joris Gerlagh

Oxford won against the Cambridge and Oxford club with 4-1. The Oxford players visited the Cambridge and Oxford club in London on the 25th of April. The individual results were:
1) Julio Brau (W) 0-1 David Martins
2) Peter Webster 0-1 Henrique Aguiar
3) Chris Heath 0-1 Jamie Horton
4) Vivian Woodwark 0-1 Alexander Hardwick
5) David Jones 1-0 Gerard Dugdill

Oxford wins seconds varsity

Sun, 11 March 2018 - by Joris Gerlagh

Oxford won the 2nds varsity with 3.5-0.5. Thanks to everyone who played.

Oxford wins Varsity

Sun, 11 March 2018 - by Joris Gerlagh

The 136th Varsity match was played once again at the RAC club in Pall Mall. We outgraded the Cambridge team, which was especially pronounced on the lower 4 boards, where we scored 3.5/4. Oxford won the varsity match 5-3. Special thanks to David Martins, Joris Gerlagh, Aleksander Monev and Jamie Horton, who all won their games. For a full report I refer you to the excellent website of John Saunders (britbase Varsity 2018)

Oxford 1st team wins league

Sun, 11 March 2018 - by Joris Gerlagh

After a win over Didcot in the last match the 1st team is guaranteed the victory. Thank you to everyone who played for the 1st team past season, and hopefully we can continue our success streak next year under Andrew.

New season begins!

Tue, 10th Oct 2017 - by Benjamin Foo

Welcome to all new members and welcome back to all existing ones! A new academic year has begun, and with it a new chess season for the club!

The Chess Club has weekly meetings, usually on Monday nights at 7.30pm at St Johns College. In addition IM David Martins will host weekly lessons on Wednesday (mostly catering for beginners), starting in 2nd week. Follow the Facebook pages and subscribe to our mailing list for updates with regards to these events and our regular county league matches. For any questions, please contact members of the Committee, our emails are listed on this site.

Season Overview

Mon, 5th Jun 2017 - by Benjamin Foo

Overall, this has been a tremendous season for the Oxford University Chess Club.

Our achievements this year are:

Varsity Champions (beating Cambridge by 4.5 to 3.5)
Winning Town v Gown (beating the Town by 6 to 4) n
Finished 2nd in the British University Chess Championships, qualifying for the European University Chess Championships
Won the 20/20 chess qualifiers in London, qualifying for the finals
Beating the Oxford and Cambridge Club 4-1 in a friendly match
Oxford 1 won the Oxfordshire Chess League Division 1, and reached the semi-finals of the Frank Wood Shield
Oxford 2 finished 3rd place in the Oxfordshire Chess League Division 2
Oxford 3 finished 4th in the Oxfordshire Chess League Division 4, and exceeded all expectations by reaching round 3 of the Frank Wood Shield

Thank you to everyone who has participated in making this season such a success!

Oxford wins Varsity!

Thu, 30th Mar 2017 - by Benjamin Foo

On 10th March, the Oxford team defeated Cambridge for the first time in 6 years to achieve victory in the 135th Varsity Chess Match by the margin of 4.5 to 3.5! Congratulations to all the players and especially to Jamie Horton for winning the Best Game prize!

New Season Underway!

Sun, 20 Oct 2013 14:20:00 -0700

We really enjoyed meeting you all at freshers' fair and drinks!

There's a whole host of exciting chess on offer this term. Things are kicking off from Wednesday, when we're starting our freshers' blitz tournament at Christ Church at 7:30pm. At 5 minutes a game, blitz chess is a refreshing way to add an element of frantic scrabbling to a game that's typically thought of for its sophistication.

Why not download our termcard so you can keep up with everything going on? In particular, write down our freshers' varsity in your diary and join us in showing the other place why we're the best university!

Finally, our second team begins their season tomorrow away at Witney. New players are always welcome to get involved in competitive chess, so please feel free to read about our teams.

See you around!

OUCC 1s Finish 4th in ODCL Div 1

Sat, 04 May 2013 15:00:00 -0700

After charging through to a brilliant start at the beginning of the season, Uni 1 had sights aimed high. Taking the scalps of the county's top teams like Witney and Cowley was a definite highlight. But as fatigue started to set in, our strained team struggled to stay in form. We ended with a respectable 4th place in the middle of the league, in line with the results of the past few years. As Uni players come and go ever so frequently, we were very fortunate to have such a strong batch of new players this year. It was a season well fought, let's hope for the best next year!

OUCC 2s to Remain in ODCL Div 3

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:00:00 -0700

Report by Erik Thörnblad

After a tough season Uni II finally showed what they are worth by beating City III with 5-1, thus avoiding relegation! Captain Noam's game was the first to finish. His opponent missed that his knight was attacked by a pawn, and after that it was easy task cleaning up. Ben won a piece in an effective way by forcing his opponent to shut in his own bishop which could then be attacked by a pawn. Meanwhile, Matthew played a heavy piece endgame with a pawn up, and traded down to a winning pawn endgame that he handled well. At that point the top three boards were still playing, with myself being a pawn up after an extremely early d5 in the Spanish from my opponent, and later a whole rook up since my opponent's king was stuck in the centre and the tactics couldn't be stopped. I later blundered a bishop back (doh!), but the endgame was still easily winning with an outside passer. Sean outplayed his opponent in a Grand Prix Attack and won the ensuing endgame easily. The craziest game of the day was board 2, where Hendrik as black had an extremely sharp King's Indian. I'm not too sure what happened, for every time I went over it looked completely different. Well played everyone, and thanks for this season!

Howard Chiu's Game from Varsity

Wed, 03 Apr 2013 10:00:00 -0700

Scibior,Adam (2229) - Chiu,Howard (2048) A32

131st Varsity Match, 09.03.2013

Write-up by Howard Chiu

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.g3 Qc7 7.Qa4 Speelman noted that this was an odd position for the queen in the post-mortem. 7.Bg2 Qxc4 8.0–0 Nc6 9.Nb3 d5 10.Bf4 Qb4 11.Re1 Be7 12.e4 Nxe4 Shimanov - Zhigalko, 0–1, 2012 7...Nc6 8.Nc2 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bg2 Rb8 10.Qc2 Be7 11.0–0 0–0= has been played before. 8...Be7 9.Bg2 0–0 10.0–0 d6 11.Ne3 Bd7 12.Qc2 Ne5 13.b3 Rac8

preparing b5 which cannot be stopped due to the numerous pins down the c-file.14.Ba3 14.Bb2 b5 15.cxb5 axb5 16.Qd2 Qb8; 14.f4 Neg4 15.Nxg4 Nxg4 16.e4 b5 (16...Qc5+ 17.Kh1 Ne3 18.Bxe3 Qxe3 19.e5 dxe5 20.Rae1 Qb6 21.fxe5) 17.Qe2 Nf6 18.e5 Ne8 19.Be3 bxc4 20.Bd4 d5 14...b5 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16.Bxe4 f5 17.Bg2 f4?! Inspired but it turns out that White can hold adequately with accurate play. 17...bxc4 18.Rac1 Qa5 wins a pawn outright 19.Bb2 Qxa2 20.Bxe5 Qxc2 21.Rxc2 dxe5 22.Nxc4 Bb5 23.e4 Rfd8 18.gxf4 Rxf4 19.Qd2 Rh4 here Fritz found 19...bxc4 20.Nd5 exd5 21.Qxf4 Qa5 22.Bc1 c3 23.Be3 c2 24.Rfc1 Qb5 25.Bd4 Qxe2 26.Bxd5+ Kh8; The alternative that I was considering loses the d6 pawn without much compensation 19...Rcf8?! 20.Rad1 bxc4 21.Bxd6 Bxd6 22.Qxd6 Qxd6 23.Rxd6 20.Rfd1 stopping any ideas of ...d5! with Nf3+ and Qxh2# 20...Nf7 21.Rac1=

White has developed quite nicely while Black is starting to put his pieces on weird squares.21...Qa7 22.cxb5 Rxc1 23.Qxc1 23.Rxc1 axb5 24.Bb4 Bd8 25.Nf1 Bb6 26.e4= 23...axb5 24.Bb2 here I had a tough choice between depriving the knight of c4 or the queen of c3, and I decided that the latter was more annoying. 24...b4 24...d5 25.Nf1 Bc5 26.e3 b4; 24...Qxa2 25.Qc3 Bf6 26.Qc7 Qxb2 27.Qxd7= 25.Qa1 Bg5 26.Nc4 The alternative I was looking at was 26.Bd4 Qa6 27.Qb2 e5 28.Bc5 Bh3 29.Bxh3 Rxh3 here Fritz found 30.Bxb4 Rxe3! 31.fxe3 Bxe3+ 32.Kg2 Qc6+ 33.Kg3 Ng5 34.Rd3 (34.Rxd6 Bf4+ 35.Kh4 (35.Kf2 Nh3+ 36.Ke1 Qh1#) 35...Qe4 36.Bd2 Bxd2+ 37.Kh5 Qxe2+ 38.Kh4 Qxh2+ 39.Kg4 Qh3#) 34...Qh1 35.Rxe3 Qg1+ 36.Kh4 Qxh2+ 37.Kxg5 Qf4+ 38.Kh5 g6# 26...Bf4? 27.h3 d5 28.Ne5 Ng5??

I was so caught up in trying to break through on the kingside that my pieces have ended up in a nasty tangle without me realising it. Here the both of us were down to a few minutes with no increments.29.e3? Pretty much the only move that loses; moving either piece to d4 would have sufficed. 29.Bd4 Qc7 30.e3 Bxe5 31.Bxe5 Qc2 32.Rd4 Nxh3+ 33.Bxh3 Rxh3 34.Qd1 Qxd1+ 35.Rxd1 Rh5=; 29.Rd4! Be8 30.e3 Bxe3 31.fxe3 Nxh3+ 32.Kf1 Bb5+ 33.Ke1 Rh5 34.Qc1!+- 29...Bxe3 29...Nxh3+ was much better 30.Bxh3 Rxh3 31.exf4 Rg3+ 32.Kf1 Bb5+ 33.Ke1 Rg1+ 34.Kd2 Qxf2+ 35.Kc1 Rg2–+ 30.Nxd7?? 30.Ng4 Rxg4 31.hxg4 Bxf2+ 32.Kh1 Ne4 33.Bd4 Ng3+ 34.Kh2 Bxd4! Fritz found this calmly while I gave up trying to find a continuation 35.Qxd4 Qb8 36.Kh3 Ne2 37.Qf2 Nf4+ 38.Kh4 Bb5 30...Bxf2+ 31.Kf1 31.Kh1 Nxh3 32.Bxh3 Rxh3+ 33.Kg2 Qe3 34.Kf1 Qf3–+ 31...Rf4 32.Be5 Qa6+ 0–1

Varsity Matches 2013 Report

Sat, 16 Mar 2013 15:12:00 -0700

By David Hewitt

On the 3rd March we set off to Cambridge for 2nds Varsity, feeling hopeful that we could continue from the success of Freshers' Varsity and possibly win the full trio of 1st, 2nd and freshers' varsity.

A couple of hours later on the nauseating X5 bus route and our resolve was wavering. Despite rallying over lunch we fell behind slightly when the games began, making us fight to recover the match. Strong play by David Lawrence, Hendrik Brackmann and Ben Sloman scored us the points we needed to reach one game to go at 4-4 apiece to Oxford and Cambridge. Our much-loved Erik Thornblad ended up playing the last game to a time scramble finish, and unfortunately he had no better option than to draw. The match was thus drawn overall at 4.5-4.5, and while it wasn't the win we'd hoped for, it'll do.

Next week on the 9th March we headed to the Royal Automobile Club for the Varsity Match 2013. We outgraded Cambridge on the top four boards and were ourselves outgraded on the lower four. We won the toss, but with the first win going Cambridge's way and a draw as the second result, things again began to look patchy.

The match closed off in just over four hours, with our players valiantly clawing our way back to a narrow 3.5-4.5 defeat.

The best game was awarded to Raja Panjwani for his win over Sam Franklin, and the brilliancy to Howard Chiu for his winning game against Adam Scibior. Many thanks to all the members of the RAC, especially Henry Mutkin, who make this event possible every year.

Oxford 3½-4½ Cambridge
Raja Panjwani 2407 1-0 Samuel G A Franklin 2322
Ravindran Shanmugam 2375 ½-½ Rafe Martyn 2258
David Zakarian 2374 0-1 Richard Weaving 2176
Dominic Foord 2099 ½-½ Daniel Hunt 2057
Jozef Janovsky 2131 ½-½ Vytautas Gruslys 1970
Howard Chiu 2048 1-0 Adam Scibior 2229
Joshua Tan 2020 0-1 Andrew McClement 2128
Nicole Miranda Gonzalez 2009 0-1 Nath Saheli 2116

Oxford Win Freshers' Varsity 2012

Fri, 02 Nov 2012 08:00:00 -0700

The 2012 Freshers' Varsity Match ended in a victory for Oxford over Cambridge at 6.5 - 5.5. The results were:

**Oxford** **Score** **Cambridge**
Jan Schmidt 0-1 Sam Franklin
Pranjal 0-1 Richard Weaving
James Foster 1-0 Daniel Hunt
Rhys Cumming 1-0 Vepa Malikgulyyev
Dashiell Shaw 1-0 Sameli Nath
Joshua Tan 1-0 Robert Starley
Howard Chiu 0.5-0.5 Boyd Siripornpitak
Shubham Anand 1-0 Ruby Marsden
Ralph Wu 0-1 Jeppe Hallgren
Sam Bentham 0-1 Ali Abdaal
Naveen Mortha 0-1 Anand Srinivasan
Ben Gardener 1-0 (default)

OUCC Celebrates a Successful Year

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 08:00:00 -0700

The Oxford University Chess Club has celebrated the end of a highly successful year. In the past 12 months we have become the British University Champions and have won all three annual matches against the University of Cambridge, (Varsity, Second's Varsity and Freshers' Varsity). The players from the 1st varsity team were awarded Mindsport Blues during a formal cheese and wine evening in St John's College (organised jointly with the Oxford University Quiz Society). We are grateful to CJ de Mooi (President of the English Chess Federation) for kindly accepting our invitation to be guest speaker.

Town Versus Gown Results

Fri, 20 May 2011 08:00:00 -0700

The annual Town v Gown chess match was played over nine boards on 14 May at St Hugh's College. Town proved to be the stronger team and won 7.5-1.5. This was their second consecutive title. The results in full were:

Jason McKenna (184) 1-0 Richard Lobo (159)
Jon D'Souza-Eva (181) 1-0 Daniel Rey (159)
Karlmarx Rajangam (176) 1-0 Sam Woolacott (159)
Matthew Daggitt (174) 1-0 Ren Zhang (ung.)
Will Burt (168) 0.5-0.5 Thomas Lessinnes (ung.)
Simon King (146) 0-1 Erik Thornblad (ung.)
Ruby Marsden (135) 1-0 Adam Bailey (ung.)
David Sayers (143) 1-0 Noam Finkelstein (ung.)
Kelly Riley (132) 1-0 Stephen Belding (92)

Thank you to everyone who played, and in particular to Gerard O'Reilly, captain of the Town team, for helping to organise the event.

Oxford University Win the Annual Varsity Match against Cambridge

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 08:00:00 -0800

The 129th Oxford vs Cambridge chess match was held on the 5th of March in the RAC Clubhouse, Pall Mall. The match was won by Oxford University. The Bob Wade brilliancy prize was awarded to David Zakarian while the best game prize was awarded jointly to Thanasis Thanas and his opponent, Christopher Graw.

The results were:

Oxford Score Cambridge
GM Amon Simutowe 0.5-0.5 IM Gabor Pinter
David Zakarian 1-0 Peter Roberson
FM Ravi Shanmugam 1-0 Mitesh Shridhar
Thanasis Thanas 0.5-0.5 Christopher Graw
Robbie Coleman 1-0 Sven Quist
Steffen Schaper 0.5-0.5 Mikhail Tyomkyn
Murray David 0-1 Richard Lee
Susan Yu 0-1 Isabella Khazagerova

We are grateful to the RAC, especially Henry Mutkin, for organising this event.

Oxford University are National Champions!

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 08:00:00 -0800

The 2nd annual British Universities Chess Association (BUCA) championship took place in Oxford over the weekend 26-27th February. The competition was won by the Oxford University Chess Club's team. The final standings, with match points out of a total of 10, were:

  1. Oxford (9)
  2. UCL1 (7)
  3. Bath (7)
  4. UCL2 (6)
  5. Aston (6)
  6. Swansea (5)
  7. Bristol (5)
  8. Warwick (5)
  9. Southampton (4)
  10. LSE (3)
  11. BCU (3)

We are grateful to the BUCA committee, especially Alex Holowcza, for organising this event.

Oxford University Victorious in 2nds Varsity

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 08:00:00 -0800

The 2011 2nds varsity match against the University of Cambridge was held on 12th February in Christ's College, Cambridge. Oxford University won the match with a score of 5.5-3.5. A much deserved result- well done team!

Hilary Blitz Tournament

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 08:00:00 -0800

The Hilary Blitz Tournament was held on Tuesday 1st February. The event was entered by 8 players and was organised in an All-Play-All format. The winners were:

  1. FM Ravindran Shanmugam
  2. Marco Zhang

Grading Prize: Gautam Rao

Oxford University strike back in Freshers' Varsity

Sun, 28 Nov 2010 08:30:00 -0800

The 2010 freshers' varsity match against the University of Cambridge was held on 27th November in St John's College. Following 3 successive defeats, the players of Oxford University rallied to produced a decisive 8-4 win.

Michaelmas Blitz Tournament

Sun, 28 Nov 2010 08:00:00 -0800

The Michaelmas Blitz Tournament was held on Tuesday 23rd November. The event was attended by 15 players over 6 rounds. The winners were:

  1. Robbie Coleman
  2. Murray David
  3. Steffen Schaper

Oxford hold London Insurance to a draw

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 08:00:00 -0700

The 103rd chess match between Oxford University and the Insurance Chess Club of London was held on 30th October 2010 in St John's College. Despite being completely composed of untested freshers, the Oxford team produced a stunning performance to gain a 3-3 draw with wins on the top two boards.

Freshers' Blitz 2010

Mon, 25 Oct 2010 08:00:00 -0700

The Freshers' Blitz tournament was held on Tuesday 19th October. The event was attended by 28 players over 5 rounds. The winners were:

  1. Ed Farrington
  2. Steffen Schaper
  3. Ravindran Shanmugam (Best fresher)

Oxford hold Cambridge to a draw

Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:00:00 -0700

The 128th Varsity Chess Match between Oxford and Cambridge was held on 6 March 2010. Despite being outrated on nearly all boards the Oxford team produced a superb performance to gain a 4-4 draw. A full report of the event is on the BCM website at The games can be viewed on that site or downloaded in PGN format here.

British Universities' Chess Championships

Mon, 15 Mar 2010 08:00:00 -0700

The Oxford team recovered from a disappointing draw with Durham 1 and an unfortunate defeat to UCL 1 to win their last three matches convincingly and finish in a very creditable third position. Our players' results are available here. Full results and games should soon be available on the official tournament website.

St. Hugh's Win Cuppers 2010

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 08:00:00 -0800

After the success of last year's event, we staged another Chess Cuppers tournament on Sunday 21st February. After the withdrawal of a couple of teams and the amalgamation of some others who did not have the necessary four players, the tournament consisted of six teams: Worcester/Trinity, St. John’s, St. Hugh’s, Lincoln, St. Catz and Trinity.

The initial round-robin league phase was keenly contested, and after three of the five rounds it looked as if any of the teams could make the final, with four of them tied on 7 game points out of 12, one on 5 and the other on 3.

Worcester/Trinity’s 4-0 fourth-round win over Trinity put them in the driving seat with 11 points going into the final round, while a hard fought draw between Lincoln and St. Catz coupled with a 3.5-0.5 win by St. Hugh’s over St. John’s ensured that there would be a major battle for that all-important second spot in the final. A draw between Lincoln and St. John’s blew their hopes, leaving it down to St. Catz and St. Hugh’s. St. Catz put in a huge performance to beat Worcester/Trinity 2.5-1.5, however it was not enough as St. Hugh’s continued their great form to beat Trinity 4-0 and secure the second final berth.

Victory in the third-place playoff went to St. Catz over Lincoln, leaving the stage set for a battle between the top two. For a long time, it looked to be very close, however, St. Hugh’s form eventually showed as they began to exert pressure on all boards. The Worcester/Trinity players defended bravely, but ultimately were unable to hold out. So St. Hugh’s, incredibly, won the final 4-0, meaning that in their final three matches they dropped only a single half game point!

Congratulations to them!

Special mentions should also go to the players on each board who scored the most points in the league phase. These were:

  • Board 1 -– Alaric Stephen, St. Catz (4/5),
  • Board 2 – Denis Menschkau, St. John’s (4.5/5),
  • Board 3 – Sam Evington, Worcester/Trinity and Will Faulks, Lincoln (4/5),
  • Board 4 – Jay Unadkat, St. Hugh’s and Jack Binysh, Lincoln (4/5) .

For a PDF file of all the results see here.

Oxford University Rapidplay 2009

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 08:00:00 -0800

On Saturday 7th November we ran our 7th Annual Oxford University Rapidplay tournament at Lincoln College. The event ran extremely smoothly and attracted numerous entrants from all around the country. The total entry was 68, up by 20 from last year. Many thanks to everyone who helped to make this such a success!

The U170 section proved to be very close, with the prize winners not being decided until the last few minutes of the final round. Indeed, for a while it looked possible that we might end up with a four-way tie for first place! However, Graham Alcock (Didcot) managed to pull through in his game against Ti Chen (Oxford University) to cap a magnificent 6/6 performance and take the victory. Ed Farrington (Oxford University) and Gary Jackson (Banbury) also managed to win tight games in the final round to secure joint second place between them. An impressive four straight wins to finish gave Tom Rixon (Hemel Hempstead) the U145 grading prize. Full results from this section are available here.

The Open was just as interesting, with numerous talented juniors competing with some established names. In the end, the top seed, GM Alexander Cherniaev (Hackney) conceded just two draws, to Thanasis Tsanas (Oxford University) and James Holland (Maidenhead), on his way to claiming first place. The decisive result turned out to be Cherniaev’s impressive win against one of England’s most promising juniors, Brandon Clarke (Littlethorpe), in the penultimate round. Second place was shared by Holland, who was awarded the U190 grading prize, Tsanas and Clarke. A full crosstable is available here.

Freshers' Blitz

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 08:00:00 -0800

We held our first ever Freshers' Blitz tournament on Tuesday 20th October. The tournament was contested by 21 players over 5 double rounds, and was enjoyed by all. Many congratulations to Gustavo German, who won with a magnificent score of 10/10. Full results are available here.

7th University Congress

Wed, 20 May 2009 08:00:00 -0700

The University Chess Club would like to thank everybody who participated in the 7th University Congress held on 16-17 May. We would like to congratulate the winners, especially Graham Morris who won the Peter Harrison Cup for best University player, and Yi Ming Lai who won the minor section with an impressive 4.5 out of 5. Further details will be available shortly.

Oxford Victorious in 127th Varsity Match

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 08:00:00 -0700

The 127th Varsity Chess Match against Cambridge took place on Saturday 14 March 2009 at the RAC Club, Pall Mall, London. The Oxford team, captained by Michael Healey, scored a 5-3 victory against a considerably higher rated Cambridge side. For a full report, see A PGN file of all 8 games can be downloaded here.

Keble Wins Chess Cuppers 2009

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 08:00:00 -0800

Report by Eoin Devane

Sunday saw the much-anticipated return of Cuppers to the Chess calendar, in the form of an eight-team, four-board, 15 minute tournament held at Keble.
The eight college teams (Keble, Exeter, Blackfriars, Univ, Merton x 2, St. Catz x 2) were divided into two groups of four for a round-robin group stage, which would be followed by semi-finals and a final.

In group A, a three-way battle between the strong teams from Exeter, Univ and Merton for the two qualifying berths ensued. Merton’s lower-board strength resulted in draws with both Exeter and Univ. The decisive result proved to be Univ’s surprise 3 – 1 win over Exeter, sending them through top of the group ahead of Merton.

Group B was dominated by pre-tournament favourites Keble, who scored an impressive 11 / 12 to set up a semi-final against Merton. Second place went to Blackfriars, who defeated both St. Catz B and Merton Magic.

Both semi-finals were very closely contested, with many of the games going the distance. The big surprise package of the tournament, Blackfriars, came extremely close to beating Univ, winning on two of the boards and losing tightly fought games on the top two to go down on the tie-break rule. In the other semi final, Merton knew they would have to perform exceptionally to have any chance against the all-conquering Keble. It looked as if a shock might be on the cards when Merton won on board 4, but Keble’s top three players showed their class though by grinding down their opponents in tough games to ensure that Keble would face Univ in the final.

First, however, third place had to be decided. Blackfriars drew first blood when board 1 Patrick Mitchell checkmated Merton’s George Raptis with a nice combination. Nevertheless, it looked as if Merton would clinch third, with the other three games going their way. Soon, Ben Waugh levelled the score with a fine win for Merton, while Eoin Devane forced a won endgame on board 2. The match would thus come down to board 3, where Alex Antao had a winning position but was desperately low on time. This told, and David Baird capitalised on a mistake by Antao to seal the victory for Blackfriars on the tie-break rule.
Having dropped only two points in the entire tournament thus far, Keble were clear favourites to win the final against Univ. Indeed Ting Xu soon gave them the advantage with a win over Bernard Reed on board 4. However, while Jonny Perrin’s impressive play against Ed Hardy on 2 looked set to give Keble a 2 – 0 lead, things were far from over. Ben Kirollos was looking dominant against Keble’s Agnese Salputra on 3 and the mercurial Mike Healey looked to have the stronger position against Tom Eckersley-Waites on 1. If both boards went against Keble, Univ would win on tiebreak. Once again, time proved significant; Kirollos’ flag fell, giving Keble the victory. There was still time, however, for a grandstand finish in the form of a time scramble between Healey and Eckersley-Waites which ended in Healey capturing his opponent’s king with both players having fewer than 2 seconds remaining!

Thus, Keble won the first Chess Cuppers of this Century. I dare say, given the success of the event, that it will not be the last.

Final standings:

  1. Keble
  2. Univ
  3. Blackfriars
  4. Merton
  5. Exeter
  6. Merton Magic (Merton B)
  7. St. Catz B
  8. St. Catz A