The Hastings and St Leonards second team had a road trip this week, with a visit to Horsham to face Horsham Chess Club’s first team. Horsham is a strong club and this was always going to be a difficult match. The previous week they had been paired against the Hastings first team, who beat them 3:1. We therefore expected them to field a strong team in reply to ensure that they did not lose again. However, we did not realise just how strong it was going to be. The Hastings team had four players with EFC grades ranging from 1974 on board 1, to 1410 on board 4. Their opponents on the night ranged from 2189 on board 1 to 2111 on board 4.
This difference in rankings showed most prominently on board 4 where team captain Martin Fletcher lasted just 18 moves against Mike Forster. Martin faced the Evans Gambit, an opening which he was not familiar with, and he never recovered from an early mistake. In the post match analysis on the long drive home, Paul Kelly pointed out that one of the club’s members – former president Bernard Cafferty – had written one of the leading books on this opening, Play The Evans Gambit. Martin made a mental note to make use of this book as part of his studies.
Boards 1 and 3 were not nearly so swift, and both Adrian Cload (on board 3) and Paul Kelly (on board 1) played well, with games that could have gone either way. However, in each case their solid resistance did not prevail and Hastings now had three losses.
This left Ian Calvert fighting against Mark Broom, in a game that lasted nearly three hours. Ian was determined to ensure that Hastings did not face a four nil defeat, and in the endgame he found himself with a rook and a knight against a rook and five pawns. It did seem that the five pawns would prove too strong but Ian played with precision and Mark was hampered by time pressures. The pair agreed on a draw and the Hastings team were very satisfied with this. On paper a 4:0 defeat would have been expected, and one draw was so much better than that.
The team now have a few weeks to regroup before their next match; home against Lewes on 7 April.
Contact – Martin Fletcher – email@example.com
Postal Address: Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club, Pelton House, 2 Cornwallis Terrace, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1EB, United Kingdom.