The Inter-Varsity Tiddlywinks trophy is heading back to Cambridge after a record-breaking defeat for Oxford on Sunday. The first match since 2005 finished 99-13 to the visitors after a late recovery prevented the humiliation of the first single figure score since 1958.
After the result an open letter of apology was written by the team to Oxford Chancellor Lord Patten explaining their failure and vowing to make amends.
The contest took place over several hours in a lecture room in Balliol College where the Light Blues prevailed over the recently reformed Oxford team to maintain their dominance. Hopes of a fourth ever triumph were dashed as players who had up to six years experience quickly opened up an unassailable lead. The match looked entirely one-sided until the final game when Dawn Hollis successfully ‘potted’ six ‘winks’ to thwart a Cambridge century and salvage a shred of dignity for the hosts.
Cambridge captain Dannish Babar assured the Oxford squad that they had the potential to become “a force to be reckoned with”. But in the dark blue camp there was anger at the scale of the capitulation. One team member branded the scoreline “disgraceful and embarrassing”. The President’s suitability was questioned amid accusations of “poor tactics, questionable pairings and egotism” as well as a “complete lack of preparation”.
Wearing a ‘quarter blue’ scarf, an award not recognised by the Blues Committee, the President dismissed these comments as a “transparent attempt at self-advancement”. He declined to be named, and it has been reported that he has since resigned. Under the constitution of the society an Extraordinary General Meeting must be held to identify and address the reasons for the defeat within 13 days.
The result was wrongly reported on the Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Society website, stating the final score as 62-50 in Oxford’s favour, although this has since been corrected.
The team’s letter of contrition to Lord Patten
Dear Chancellor Lord Patten of Barnes,
As we are sure you’re aware, Sunday 1st May saw the fiercely contested Varsity Tiddlywinks match, which Cambridge won 99-13. We write to you on behalf of the Oxford Tiddlywinks Society to apologise for our shameful defeat, the worst since records began.
Not only have we let ourselves down, but the pain of knowing we let down our fellow students, our tutors, and above all, our illustrious forefathers of the game, is perhaps too much to bear. It is tempting at this point to admit defeat, and to slink away, forgotten and unloved into the annals of history. But we are stronger than that, and it is for that reason that we collectively promise to continue as a society, and face Cambridge next year with a more experienced team. Maybe we’ll even read the rules fully before the match.
Out of the ashes of this disaster will rise the phoenix of success. As the North American Tiddlywinks Association motto says, “Fiat vincs, ruat cælum!”*