23 April – 24 April 2022
Chess tournaments are a strange mixture of tension and excitement. The high points are really high, especially following a challenging win. And the low points are really low, especially when full of self-recriminations when making a foolish mistake, or failing to capitalise on a winning position. Five long games over two days is physically (as well as mentally) draining. Most importantly, chess is a social sport, and sharing the event with fellow club members is definitely to be recommended.
This was exactly what happened this weekend as a group of 10 chess players from Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club, with a wide range of abilities, travelled to St Albans for a weekend of chess. The event was split into five sections, with the lower graded players in the Minor event, and the strongest players in the Open, (with Intermediate, Major and Challenger in between). Hastings was represented in each section. The games were timed at 90 minutes for each player (with an extra 10 seconds added with each move), meaning that the games could last over three hours. With three games on Saturday and two on Sunday the time spent sitting at a chess board can easily mount up.
The club representatives were:
At the close of play on Saturday there were three players with 2 points out the possible 3. These were father and son, Ted and Bill, and also Steve. Two of these were able to maintain their form, and were joined on day two by Paul Buswell in achieving a score of more than 50%. Paul and Steve both delivered a final score of 3, while Ted increased his score to 3½. With three draws, Ted finished his section in third place with no losses.
The overall winner on the day was Han Yichen, a 14 year old player from the Netherlands, representing Magdalen College School, who finished on 4½ points in the Open.
In the Minor section Martin delivered the first blunder of the tournament. Following an unforgivable lapse of concentration he lost his knight on move 4. It is generally believed that the loser is the player who makes the last mistake and that proved to be the case in this game. Both players continued to play steady chess, and the move 4 error was never recovered. Martin won his next game and also won the fifth game finishing in 34th place with 2 points. Bill was unable to improve on the two points at the end of the first day, and stayed on 2 points at the end, sharing 34th place with Martin. Paul Buswell played well in this section, with two wins and two draws finishing well up the rankings in 15th place.
In the Intermediate section Marc arrived on Saturday in high spirits, looking forward to some stimulating chess. However, the lack of regular practice started to show in his results, and he finshed the day with just half a point; a score which did not increase on day two.
The Major section was where the top action was seen with Ted’s podium finish. Steve finished close behind Ted with three points, and 9th place. This was achieved with two wins and two draws.
In the Challengers section Paul Kelly was hindered by the logistics of a chess tournament. On Sunday morning his train was cancelled and he missed the replacement bus. He was awarded a half point bye for game four and he lost game five, finishing the event with 2 points. This was disappointing as his first game in round one was, in his own words, a perfect game. Brendan Ruane finished on 2½ points with one win, two draws and a bye, with Jim Wheeler not far behind with two draws and one win for 2 points. Jim and Brendan took advantage of the pairing on Sunday morning. Finding they were playing against each other they delivered an early draw, giving them time to enjoy the local pub before the afternoon game.
Finally, in the Open section, Rasa finished 15th with two points achieved from two draws and one win. It was noted that Rasa spent the most time at the boards with her games nearly all going to the wire. When everyone else had finished playing on Saturday evening, Jim checked on the progress of Rasa’s game and reported back that after over two hours her game was just starting out, with a position everyone else was in two hours earlier. The late Saturday finish did mean that the evening meal was a takeaway just as the restaurants were closing. But it also meant that there was the maximum time spent in companionable converstation about all things related to chess. And that, after all, is what it is all about. Ted went home with a top three finish. The rest of us went home with happy memories and plans for the net tournament where we will do better, having learnt important lessons at this one. Don’t go to the pub before game five; check on train and bus arrangements; don’t leave all the action to the last five minutes of play; play some practice games before the tournament; and most importantly don’t move your knight to g5 on move 4.
Report from Martin Fletcher