The 135th Varsity Match hosted by London’s Royal Automobile Club last Saturday resulted in a narrow win for Oxford, who have reduced their overall deficit. The score is now 59 wins to Cambridge, 54 to Oxford. The brilliancy prize, judged by grandmasters Jon Speelman and Luke McShane and named in honour of Bob Wade OBE, was awarded to the Cambridge player Daniel Fernandez. When we join the position he is a piece down for very little compensation.
Gerlagh (University College, Oxford)-
Fernandez (Queens College, Cambridge)
See diagram 1
27 Ra6+ Much better is 27 Nb6 with the idea 27 ... Rxc2 28 Nxd5+ Nxd5 29 Bxe4 Rc5 30 Ra6+ winning. 27 ... Kg5 Despite the extra piece, White is in difficulties. 28 Nd6 Rxc2 29 h4+ Kg4 30 Ra7 Nxg2 31 Kxg2 Rxe2+ 32 Kf1 Rxb2 33 Rxg7+ Kf3 34 Ke1 b3 35 f6 Rb1+ 36 Kd2 e3+ 37 Kd3 Rd1 mate
Aguiar (Balliol College, Oxford)-
Andreev (Trinity College, Cambridge)
See diagram 2
White’s passed b-pawn will undoubtedly win the game. He just has to ensure that he doesn’t suffer an accident on the kingside. 29 Bxa5 Bf3 30 Qxc5 Qh3 31 Bc7 Rf5 Black has managed to set up a threat – 32 ... Qxh2+ mating. 32 Qd5+ Kh7 33 Qe6 The queen can interpose on h3. 33 ... Bg4 34 Qxf5+ This terminates any possibility of a snap mate. 34 ... Bxf5 35 Bxb8 Bc8 36 c5 Qd7 37 bxc8Q Qxc8 38 Bd6 Qc6 39 Kxg2 Qd5 40 Rb6 Qxd3 41 c6 Black resigns
Scibior (Trinity College, Cambridge)-
De Vogelaere (Pembroke College, Oxford)
See diagram 3
White has a small advantage in this rook and pawn endgame but it should not be enough to win. 49 Kd4 49 Rxd6+ Ke5 is fairly hopeless as a winning attempt as the black king becomes very active. 49 ... Ke6 50 Kc4 Rh4+ 51 Kb5 Ke5 52 Ra8 Rd4 53 Ra4 Rd2 53 ... d5 should also draw. 54 Kxb4 Rd4+ 55 Kb5 Rxa4 56 bxa4 d5 57 a5 Kd6 A blunder after which White wins. 57 ... d4 58 a6 d3 59 a7 d2 60 a8Q d1Q is a theoretically drawn position where Black defends by, counter-intuitively, rushing his king to the h-file. 58 Kb6 d4 59 a6 Black resigns After both pawns promote White has a deadly skewer with Qd8+.