Hastings 2 Hastings 1

The first match of the new Mid Sussex league season saw the ‘visitors emerge as 3.5-1.5 winners. Note that the first team has been strengthened by the addition of Toby Stock, grade 183

As Henry Cove did not find the best defence after my knight sacrifice for a pawn in the opening, the first team took an early lead, enabling BC to enjoy watching the match at his leisure while consuming the brown bread cheese sandwiches prepared by Marc, the home side’s non-playing captain.

Steve develop d his B at b2, but allowed Toby too much central control, weakened his K-side and had to grovel by Bb2- c1 before he could complete his development.

Alan, making a welcome return to league play had a closed centre akin to that of the Ruy Lopez, but his KB was at g2, not at c2. After steady pressure, with Black’s minor pieces defending on his back rank, that same B played to f3, and the threat of Bh5 mate was decisive.

Howard advanced his K-side pawns in front of the king but his Steinitzian Nf8 held it all together in the face of sustained pressure. After various exchanges a drawish double-rook endgame was in prospect, so the old rivals shook hands on a draw.

The last game to finish came on second board where the lower-graded player triumphed after a stern fight. I found this a fascinating game, reflecting credit on both players. Black appeared to have the initiative after a rook transfer via e4 to a3. Yet he found himself hamstrung by the lack of a good square for his Nb8. The hobbled horse limped to a6 and remained stuck there to the bitter end when Daniel’s threat of a back row mate trumped John’s dangerous passed pawn at b2. BC