Independent Pursuits: Chess

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THE ANNUAL Varsity match took place on Saturday at the RAC Club in London's Pall Mall. Sponsored for the second time by the writer Tony Buzan who has now generously guaranteed it as far as 2010, this was the 117th official encounter in a series that dates way back to 1873.

Somewhat weaker on the top two three boards, Cambridge outgraded Oxford on the remaining five and so a fairly close contest was expected. At first Oxford looked good and when, after about two-and-a-half-hours' play, we returned from an excellent lunch, I made it approximately 35/8-29/8 to Oxford. But the illusion was soon dispelled as Cambridge scored victories in quick succession on boards five and six - the latter, to which I awarded the best game prize, appears below. And in the end, Cambridge won easily, making five draws and a further win on bottom board, to finish with 5.5- 2.5 without a single defeat.

For all that, it seems most unjust that the Cambridge players will, as they have for the best part of a century, be receiving half-blues for their pains while the Oxford players still don't get this recognition. The Oxford University Blues Committee recently turned down an application for half-blue status yet again - though tiddlywinks does qualify. There's currently a concerted effort to get chess recognised as a sport in Britain, as it is in most of the European Community - indeed Gary Kasparov should be coming to the House of Commons on 25 March in support; more of that nearer the time. If that is achieved, maybe other attitudes will change too.

In the opening 7 e5!? is fairly unusual and so is 8 ...f5 - Black generally plays 8 ...d5 9 exd6 Bxd6 10 Ne4 Be7 (but not 10 ...Bxf4? 11 Bxf4 Qxf4 12 Qd4). 10 Qh5+? lost time but the game remained quite unclear until the blunder 22 ...Ng4?? At the end, 24 ...gxf5 25 Rxf5+ leads to slaughter.

White: David Moskovic

Black: Joel Ouaknine

Sicilian Taimanov