Chess Oxford loses to the old enemy

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The Independent Culture
THE NATURAL order of things was restored at the Royal Automobile Club in London's Pall Mall last weekend, when Cambridge beat Oxford by 4 1/2-3 1/2 . In the old days, it was simple - spies and chess players went to Cambridge, while prime ministers went to Oxford. Recently, however, things have changed.

In a series dating back to 1874, Oxford now lead by 48 wins to 47. This time, Cambridge seemed to be heading for certain defeat before a late swing gave them 1 1/2 points from two lost positions. It was clearly part of a well-constructed strategy that began by allowing Oxford a quick win on top board to create over-confidence. After 26. Ne6, Black is in difficulties whatever he does. The exchange sacrifice looked promising until Kumaran unleashed 28. Bg4] after which Black's game fell apart.

White: Kumaran

Black: Hon

1 d4 Nf6

2 c4 g6

3 Nc3 Bg7

4 e4 d6

5 Be2 0-0

6 Be3 e5

7 d5 c6

8 g4 cxd5

9 cxd5 Nbd7

10 g5 Ne8

11 Nf3 f5

12 b4 Rf7

13 h4 Nb6

14 Qb3 fxe4

15 Nd2 Bd7

16 a4 Nc8

17 Ndxe4 Ne7

18 Ng3 Nf5

19 Nxf5 Bxf5

20 Rc1 e4

21 Nb5 a6

22 Nd4 Rc8

23 Kd2 Rxc1

24 Rxc1 Re7

25 a5 Qd7

26 Ne6 Rxe6

27 dxe6 Bxe6

28 Bg4 d5

29 Bxe6+ Qxe6

30 Rc5 Kh8

31 Qxd5 Qe7

32 Bd4 1-0

With Oxford also winning on boards 2 and 5, the match seemed decided. Then a series of accidents occurred. The fifth board game between Dickinson (Oxford, playing White) and Holland (Cambridge) had begun 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Ngf3 Nc6 6. Bb5 a6 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. Ne5 Qc7 9. Qe2 Be6 10. Ndf3 Nf6 when White won a pawn by a neat combination beginning with 11. Nxf7] Whether Black takes with king or queen, 12. Ng5 will regain the piece. After 28 moves, they had reached the diagram position.

Still a pawn ahead, White played the cunning 29. Re1 tempting 29 . . . Rxf4+ 30. Kg3 when White threatens Kxf4 and Re8+. Black's rook cannot retreat to f8 and 30 . . . Re4 31. Rxe4 dxe4 32. Kf4 also looks a comfortable win for White. After 30 . . . Bc7, White continued with 31. Re8+ when 31 . . . Kf7 32. Re7+ and 33. Rxc7 wins a piece. But Black played 31 . . . Rf8, discovering check from the bishop, and White was lost.

A few minutes later, James Cavendish, on second board for Oxford, blundered away a whole rook. His position had been so good that he still drew the game, but by then Oxford had lost the match.

(Graphic omitted)

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