Oxford v Cambridge is the oldest annual chess fixture, first played in 1873 and now hosted at the elegant RAC headquarters at Pall Mall, London. It is normally a tight match, and although Cambridge were heavily outrated this year they got close to victory before Oxford squeaked through 4.5-3.5 and so reduced their series deficit to 56-59.

Long sequences are a feature of the match’s history, Cambridge once winning 11 in a row immediately followed by Oxford with eight.

It was a special occasion due to the presence of Hou Yifan, the all-time No2 woman who is currently a Rhodes scholar at St Hilda’s. No fireworks, though. Her Cambridge opponent Matthew Wadsworth played solidly for a comfortable draw with opposite coloured bishops

The match used to be a training ground for the England national team, but it has completely changed character to a global occasion with six nations represented and only half the players English. Departed also are the Oxford historians, as the subjects studied are now geared towards the practical: science and engineering five, mathematics and computer science five, economics three, the rest three.


Ernesto Rotunno v Alexander Alekhine, Montevideo 1938. The then world champion Alekhine was noted for his tactical coups, but Black (to play) has to be careful here due to White’s c6 pawn. Can you find Alekhine’s winning move in the diagram?

Click here for solution

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