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Players trip to St Albans Chess Congress

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:

Minor section

Bill Filby

Martin Fletcher

Paul Buswell

Intermediate section

Marc Bryant

Major section

Steve Blewitt

Ted Filby

Challenger section

Brendan Ruane

Paul Kelly

Jim Wheeler

Open section

Rasa Norinkeviciute

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

Club still open every day

The club is now operating normally every day, including on Wednesday evenings as currently the junior club is closed.
We are currently running a 6 player handicap on Saturday afternoons and will be starting one on Tuesday afternoons from next week. These are unrated so open to anyone so if interested please let us know. More can be added if they prove successful.
The regular Friday evening handicap (The John Driver handicap) has been running now for the last month and is proving to be very popular again.
We are hoping to run the wonderful Paul Buswell rapid play again at Easter which is an event we all look forward to.
We are playing in the Sussex league only this year with 4 players per team with updates regularly appearing in the Hastings Observer which has encouraged new members to come along, I met one this afternoon who called in on the off chance so lucky I was there.
The club winter competitions are running well but coming to a close ready for the summer competitions so games need to be completed soon
We also have regular updates on Twitter and Facebook


We look forward to seeing you all again at Hastings chess club

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.


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.

Junior Club returns 11th September

Junior club will return on Wednesday 11th September 2019 6:00-7:00pm for fun, games and prizes. Doors open 5:45pm.

As with last season we will be fielding a team of juniors in the Kent Chess league for the upcoming 19/20 season, the boys and girls did so well last season finishing third in the division, it’s only right that we continue to encourage tournament chess for our brilliant junior squad.

New for the upcoming season will be the establishment of a Junior Academy. This will be a more rigorous and regular training programme that will replace our previous ad-hoc pre-match training days. The Academy will be by invitation only and restricted to juniors who are members of the main club.

It should be an exciting and fun year ahead and we look forwarding to seeing you all again after your summer hols.