CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Last week, Cambridge equalised the scores in the century-old Varsity chess match series. Colonel Polhill reminisces.

IT WAS a rare pleasure to drop in at the RAC in Pall Mall a couple of weeks ago and see Cambridge thrashing Oxford. Memories flooded back of my own Varsity days, when I led the light blues to victory on many an occasion.

White: A Lewis (Oxford)

Black: A Cohen (Cambridge)

1.e4 d6

In my day, it was into battle with 1.e4 e5 all the way.

2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5

Doubtless hoping for 7.cxd6 Nxe4, but the Oxford man is having none of such nonsense.

7.Bd3 Qxc5 8.Qe2 Bg4 9.Be3 Qa5 10.0-0 0-0 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nc6

It pains me to see young players trotting out well-learned "theory" instead of using their heads. Did Dr Jakob Bronowski ever resort to "theory" when representing Cambridge? I think not! Would my good friend Hugh Alexander have cracked the Enigma code and destroyed the Hun if I had let him play "theory" against Oxford? I doubt it!

13.Ne2? Nd7 14.c3? Nde5!

Theory disproved! Two moves after running out of book knowledge, White is deeply in the mire.

15.fxe5 Nxe5 16.Qg3 Nxd3 17.Bg5 Re8 18.Bxe7 Qb6+ 19.Kh1 Rxe7 20.Qxd3 Rae8

White's attempts to avoid losing a pawn have floundered. Now 21.Ng3 Qxb2 loses the c-pawn .

21.Rab1 Rxe4 22.Nf4 Re3 23.Qc4 Qc6 24.Qb3

Still hoping for some sort of attack against f7.

24 . . . R8e5 25.Kh2 Rg5 26.Rbd1 Be5

This manoeuvre saves the game from being a rather routine victory, though I am certain it was the meretricious, but scarcely meritorious finish that won it the "best game" prize.

27.Rd2 Reg3 28.Qc2 Qc4 29.Rdf2 (see diagram)

No doubt expecting 29 . . . Bxf4 30.Rxf4 Rxg2+ 31.Qxg2 Rxg2+ 32.Kxg2 when White can fight on with two rooks against the queen.

29 . . .Rxg2+!

Bravo! The pinned knight cannot capture, and 30.Rxg2 Qxf1 31.Rxg5 Qxf4+ leaves White no excuse for prolonging the game.

White resigns

Thus did the Cambridge half-blues equalise the scores after 120 years . The unenlightened powers at our other University persist in refusing to award a half-blue for the royal game. Instead, I am told, they give one for ballroom dancing. Where I fancy you can rely more on "theory".

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