Friendly match – Hastings v Hammersmith
18 June 2022
It is enjoyable to travel around the country playing chess in different cities. But last weekend it was our chance to stay at home and let the challengers come to us. Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club were hosting a friendly match against one of the top London clubs, Hammersmith Chess Club. The visitors arrived at midday with a team of 10 players, and a number of supporters, and the competition was soon underway.
The home team were marginally stronger, and based on the grading tables would have expected to win 6 games and lose 4. However, the home advantage kicked in and Hastings were ready to shine.
The first game to finish was the bottom board where Hastings Junior Alex Lebedev was facing the youngest competitor, 7 year old Oliver Valle. Alex played good solid chess and steadily dominated the board, giving Hastings their first win.
This was followed by board 9, where Martin Fletcher was playing against Brian Joyce. Martin found some tactical ideas in the middle game and forced a victory before reaching the end game. A pattern was starting to develop, and these two wins were followed on Board 8, where Keith Hossack beat Frank Valle; Board 6, where Brendan Ruane beat Robin Sarfas; Board 5, where Mark Brougham beat Adam Cranston; and Board 2, where John Sugden beat Gaston Franco.
Hammersmith were able to avoid a clean sweep with Ian Calvert on Board 3 and Paul Kelly on Board 4 being held to a draw by Michael Saunders and Edoardo de Angelis.
After several hours of play there were just two games still continuing. On Board 1 Daniel Lowe was in an evently matched end game against Marios Kouis. With both players graded at 2170 this was always going to be a difficult result to call and as it reached its climax the game could still go either way. However Daniel’s faultless end game skills proved decisive and Hastings had one more win. The final game was Caelan Rooney against Charlie Sturt. This was also a very closely fought end game, with the clock also impacting on the play with
just minutes remaining. Like Daniel, Caelan showed that he was solid in the end game, and this proved too much for Charlie as the final chance of a win for Hammermith disappeared. This gave a final result of 8 wins and two draws to Hastings with a score of 9:1.
While the long play games were the main course for the day, these were followed by a dessert of rapid play with a five round blitz tournament. Twelve players took part in this and the winner (with 4 points) was Hammersmith player Gaston Franco. Jim Wheeler was joint second with visitor Michael Sunders, both achieving 3.5 points.
The day was a great success. Not only did both teams enjoy some great chess, but it was also a friendly atmosphere, and Hastings are definitely hoping that this will become a regular fixture – perhaps with a trip to London next time. After the match the Hastings team were quick to say that the cammeraderie was more inportant than the winning. However that is much easier to say when you have won 9:1, than when you have lost.