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Junior club price increase

From 1st January 2020 junior club subscriptions will rise from £2 to £3 per session.

For many years now the junior club has been subsidised by donations and legacies but now all that funding has expired, meaning regrettably subscriptions will have to rise. The main club itself will continue to subsidise the juniors as best it can, keeping the increase to as low as possible.

We believe learning chess has so many benefits on young minds that even transcend the game itself and that can have a positive effect on other areas of life. This is something that we want to encourage and should be available to all.



Frankenstein-Dracula Gambit

This Friday night at the club will be a themed competition involving the Frankenstein-Dracula Gambit. If you’re unfamiliar with this Gambit it originates out of the Vienna Game / Bishops game, a scary opening with many complications but with accurate play viable for both sides.

Come join us this Friday 6:45-9:00PM or get it in the neck!

Frankenstein-Dracula Gambit

Juniors re-enact Battle of Hastings

So children from the Hastings and St Leonards Junior Chess Club, this week re-enacted the Battle of Hastings to commemorate that fateful day for the last Saxon king.

Chess arrived in England with the Normans, so what better way to visualise the Battle with the greatest wargame ever made.

“Standing behind his shield wall, Harold stands atop Senlac Hill looking out over the amassed armies of the Norman invaders. Archers (bishops) stand ready on both sides to launch a barrage arrows at each other but can the shield wall stand firm and hold for reinforcements (which appear on the board on move 30).”

It’s black to move and conquer England, can you do it? or will history change and Harold reign supreme?

On the whole children preserved history with William victorious the odd one or two managing to upset the odds and keep England in Saxon hands, one even getting checkmate in two moves!

The strategies employed during the real battle were described to the children and some employed the same ideas by attacking the flanks others tried striking down the central pawn duo/quad both either way a lot of fun was had.

Did the real Duke of Normandy use chess to plan his battle strategy? One for historians we think.

Mason Woodhams
Junior Organiser & ECF Accredited chess coach


Ashes lost

Hastings & St Leonards Chess club fail to regain the Ashes from Bexhill.

In a what proved to be a very close match Hastings were unable wrestle back the Ashes from local rival Bexhill chess club last Saturday having been beaten 35-37. Despite a valiant fight back in the last round where Hastings were initially trailing 28.5 -33.5 but managed to pull it back to 35-35 it wasn’t to be as Bexhill sneaked over the line to retain the Ashes.

Congratulations to Bexhill.


Friendlies Report

This is the summary report of the friendly matches played this season 2018/19

Hastings and St Leonards are involved in four friendly matches this season.

In our longest running fixture against Insurance in April Hastings lost narrowly 2.5-3.5, a single win from Chris Hann not enough save our blushes.

The GLCC match in July, Hastings went down 1.5 – 5.5, however the scoreline was a bit disingenuous as a last minute replacement for their bottom board was their highest rated played which skewed all the board order. This was their captains 50 year appearance in this fixture and we fielded two juniors who we hope will continue to play in this fixture in 50 years time.


Hastings 1½ – 5½ GLCC
B. Cafferty (176) ½ – ½ J. Rihel (179)
M. Bryant (139) 0 – 1 T. Pelling (189)
M. Fletcher(92) 0 – 1 D. Hadley (119)
K. Hossack (98) 1 – 0 M. Pole (110)
W. Cobb (84) 0 – 1 G. Broadbent (101)
J. Umberto (73) 0 – 1 D. Bennett (93)
C. Parry (UG) 0 – 1 T. Fleming (88)


Our biggest  friendly match with 18 boards was the regular visit of Wanstead and Woodford on 31st August. Another defeat for Hastings 11-7 but a cracking match it was very much enjoyed by all participants.

Following the football leagues champions league final in May and the fact that Hastings had won the Sussex League I thought it could be good to start our own champions league with a challenge to Wood Green who had just won the London league. Unfortunately they declined our challenge as they feared they couldn’t raise a team. I guess we win on default then, so Hastings are Champion of the Champions! 😉

A new fixture for this season was the restoration of a match against local rivals Bexhill who on the last two outings have defeated us. During one of those matches it was rumoured that a chess board was burnt signalling the death of chess in Hastings creating some Ashes in the process. Well we want our Ashes back and the fight is set for 21st September with the victor receiving the Ashes urn. It is hoped that this will be annual fixture from now on.


MacArthur Cup Report

macarthur cup

The MacArthur cup is a very prestigious competition in Sussex that dates back to 1889. The format is a classical time-control straight forward knock out that is open to the best teams in clubs from East and West Sussex.

For the past 13 years this has been held by either Hastings or Brighton and once again these two teams contested the coveted trophy. Hastings hasn’t won this for 7 years so was about time we took it back from Brighton.

The competition is not well supported with only four teams entering this year and this was after an absence of two years where the trophy was not contested.

In our semi-final we faced off against Haywards heath and sailed through to the final 6-0 as they couldn’t raise a team and defaulted.

So Brighton it was in the final who knocked out Horsham 4.5-1.5 to claim their place. We lost the toss and so had to travel to Brighton for the final.

I (Mason) had taken over the captaincy of the team as I wanted to say that I played in such a long running and prestigious chess tournament but being a low grade didn’t think I’d ever make the team. Numerous calls & emails to top players resulted in me making the team on merit as so many players were unavailable and so it was game on at Brighton.

The team of Sugden, Barton, Blewitt, Wheeler, Hann and myself were all heavily out graded on all boards but we still managed to get some points and made a real fight of it, everyone playing exceptionally but unfortunately going down 3.5-2.5 in the end. Special mention for Alan’s game where he played an amazing Queen pawn ending which was an absolute joy to watch.

With a stronger team the trophy could have been ours as Brighton weren’t particularly good on the day considering the grades. Better luck next year.

Junior Club and Intro Cup report 2018/19

This is the report for the junior club of Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club for 2018/19 and the Intro Cup in the Kent League as this was contested by our Junior squad.

What an amazing season for the Juniors, probably one of the best we’ve had in a long time. Numbers up, enjoyment up, quality up, and juniors now starting to be integrated into the main club.

Special thanks to Eve Grimsted whose late husband Michael a member of the Junior club himself many years ago, continues to donate to the club allowing us to subsidise fees and bring the enjoyment of chess to more children than we might otherwise been able to do.

Average attendance this season has been 16.2 per week with a high of 22 and a low of 12. Over 40 different children have come through the doors with age ranges from 5 to 13. We have the most improved boy in Sussex (Alex Lebedev) and the second most improved girl in Sussex (Alise Peterson), alongside the unconfirmed most improved Junior in England who went from zero grade to 95 and gaining his ECF Chess Maestro title in the process (Will Cobb). Many other juniors have also increased their grades or got grades for the first time. We have a number of boys and girls who have been called up to play for Sussex Juniors this season including, Chamithu W., Thamadi W., Edie Stacy, Alise Peterson, the latter three who all played in the U11 County finals helping Sussex to runners-up spot, an amazing achievement. Hastings made up the biggest contingent of any club in that team something we should be very proud of. Our girls done us proud. William Cobb was our unofficial Junior Champion this year winning the Delancy challenge, special mention to Thamadi W. who leading in the final round agreed a GM draw with Chamithu  forfeiting the title but allowing her brother to also qualify for the Sussex Mega Final, an amazing show of sportsmanship.

In October of 2018 and to celebrate Hastings day (the day chess was brought to England by the Normans) we played a chess variant to re-enact the Battle of Hastings on a chess board. The set up is as below. Surprisingly the massive shield wall of Harold was particular strong and held off the Norman knights a lot of the time changing the course of history.

New for this season was our participation in the Kent Chess League Intro Cup. At last year’s AGM no-one volunteered to be Intro Cup Captain so I took the opportunity to use that fact to create an all junior squad to compete. This was a big success. Giving juniors the chance to play tournament chess with classical time controls against adults dramatically improved their game. I don’t think any other club do this so this could be the start of something new (as always with Hastings being the pioneer in all things chess). Thanks go  to the Kent league clubs for accommodating our need to play weekend fixtures. Our Intro squad was:

  • William Cobb
  • Thamadi Wickramanayake
  • Chamithu Wickramanayake
  • Edie Stacy
  • Alise Peterson
  • Alex Lebedev
  • Christy Parry



Half way during the year we managed to purchase a cheap touch screen computer for juniors and the wider membership in general. A feature on has been particularly useful in training juniors was “Vision”, this is a rapidfire test to see how many squares on a board you can name in 30 secs. It’s fun and a great way of teaching algebraic notation. Some juniors even did this faster than adults at the club!

Very early in the season I taught them Legals mate but it wasn’t until much later in the season when Thamadi watched a video on this and employed it in one of her games, much to the annoyance of her opponent in the Kent League who had travelled all the way to us for an Intro match only to be beaten within three minutes. A brilliant game and one that will be remembered for a long time by all parties.

In our first away match of the season in the Intro Cup young William Cobb was up against one of Maidstone’s top juniors. In their first ever long play game our juniors were real credit to the club but it William that stood out playing a brilliancy towards the end of his game that neither I nor David Heath my counterpart expected, we both saw a simplification but William made use of his knights to secure an amazing mate.

Final Table 2018/19eam Play Won Draw Lost For Against Points SP MP IM


Team Play Won Draw Lost For Against Points SP MP IM
Maidstone 8 5 3 2 0 13 7 8 0 0 0
Medway 4 5 3 0 2 12½ 6 0 0 0
Maidstone 9 5 2 2 1 11½ 6 0 0 0
Hastings & St Leonards 6 5 2 1 2 10 10 5 0 0 0
Snodland 3 5 1 1 3 13½ 3 0 0 0
Medway 3 5 1 0 4 13½ 2 0 0 0

SP = Season Penalties, MP = Match Penalties, IM = Incomplete Matches


Great credit to our juniors who finished only a single point off of the playoffs in their first ever season.

As mentioned earlier we had over 40 different children come through our doors this season but we say goodbye to two of our top juniors Thamadi & Chamithu Wickramanayake who return to Sri Lanka. We wish them good luck with their chess and hope they grace Hastings again with their presence in the future. We’ll miss them terribly.

The majority of 2018/19 we ran two classes, one for experienced more serious player and a social/beginners class, both with lots of prizes, treats and competitions. However on occasion when either tutor is unavailable and running a combined class, it can be challenging, especially with such a mix of skills and ages.. We would welcome members who would like to volunteer from time to time, or to provide cover when a tutor is unavailable to come forward. You won’t have to commit to regular days just any occasional time you have free and would like to help us develop our juniors would be very much welcomed.

2019/2020 and beyond

This next season we will continue to develop and integrate our juniors with the main club. The main way we will do this is to introduce an Academy of Chess. This will be an additional teaching session scheduled for before the Friday night RapidPlay, so that juniors can then take part in the evening. It will be open by invitation only to child members of the club. A formal curriculum and training programme will be followed, with individual learning plans giving a more rigorous foundation of chess knowledge. We did have a few additional pre-match training days last season but because fixtures were constantly being rearranged we were unable to give the training we wanted.  There will be an additional cost in learning materials and tutor costs for the Academy which we are hoping to cover with grants.

Also this season we will continue the juniors participation in the Intro cup and enter them all in the Delancy Chess Challenge as usual.