Oxford fight back as 133rd Varsity Chess Match ends with honours even

 The Oxford team competing in the 133rd Varsity Chess Match (JOHN SAUNDERS)


The Oxford team competing in the 133rd Varsity Chess Match (JOHN SAUNDERS)

The annual Oxford and Cambridge match goes right to the death until a rearguard action from Oxford sees them save a draw.

The 133rd Varsity Chess Match ended with honours even after a pulsating contest was settled only in the sixth hour at the RAC Club, Pall Mall, London.

A magnificent fightback from Oxford was sealed by their top board, IM David Zakarian, who had to outplay IM Yang-Fan Zhou a second time after letting his advantage slip before the first time control.

Cambridge took the lead when Saravanan Sathyanandtha defeated Jude Lenier with a nice combination, and the match appeared decided when Richard Weaving turned round a terrible position to secure a 2-0 lead for Cambridge, who greatly out-rated their opponents.

With two more wins apiece, Cambridge were on the brink of victory until Gordon Scott found a way to win.

White to play:

Scott and Zakarian took the best game and brilliancy prizes respectively, but I liked the following game.

White plays the Bishop’s Opening in the style of Larsen: 5.Qf3 is a rare example of an early and effective queen move and was played recently by Chinese prodigy Wei Yi. 5…d6 6.h3 Be7 7.Nge2 c6 8.a4 Nxc4 9.dxc4 Be6 10.b3 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.cxd5 Bxd5 13.Qg3! Wei Yi–Xiu Deshun, Xinghua, 2014, was very similar to the game below – the white queen sortie proves to be very strong.

S. Sathyanandha – J. Lenier1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 Na5 5.Qf3 Bb4 6.Nge2 d6 7.h3 Nxc4 8.dxc4 Be6 9.b3 c6 10.0–0 d5? 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.exd5 Bxd5 13.Qg3! Qd6 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.c4 Nf6 17.Bb2 Nd7 18.Rd5! (White does not need to take on g7, he has loftier ambitions) 18…0–0 19.Nf4! Qe7 20.Rxd7! Qxd7 21.Nd5 Qf5 (White wins material. Black cannot defend b4 and f6. If 21…Qd6 22.Bxe5 or 21…Be7 22.Qxe5 threatening mate and the bishop when 22…Bf6 23.Nxf6+ is terminal) 22.Nxb4 Rfe8 23.Nd5 Rad8 24.Re1 f6 25.Ba3 Rd7 26.f4 e4 27.Bb2 Kf7 28.Qe3 b5! (Best practical chance in a lost position and Black nearly turns it around) 29.Nc3 Rd3 30.Qxa7+? (Time trouble 30.Qe2 Qxf4? 31.Qh5+) 30…Re7 31.Qf2 e3 32.Qf3 Rd2 (32…bxc4 33.bxc4 Qa5! fights on) 33.Bc1 Qc2 (33…Rf2 34.Qd5+ or Nxb5) 34.Bxd2 Qxd2 35.Qd5+ Kf8 36.Qxd2 exd2 37.Rd1 Re3!

38.Rxd2! Rxc3 39.cxb5 1–0

Answer: 48.Qb1! won the rook as 48…Rxc4 49.Qh7# G. Scott-R. Martyn.

Malcolm Pein

 

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