From Martin Fletcher – second team captain
The Hastings and St Leonards second team were playing at home in the penultimate match in the Mid Sussex Chess League. The match was a first division match against Lewes.
In recent matches the Hastings team has been substantially outgraded, and it was encouraging to face a team with almost identical grades – an average of 1736 for the visitors compared to Hastings’ 1759.
With such even pairings a draw was a distinct possibility, but team captain Martin Fletcher was hoping for better than that. Martin was playing on Board 4, facing Keith Osborne, the Lewes captain. Martin was white and facing a Sicilian defence. Martin played the unusual line Nc3 on move 2, and it was not long before he was in a dominating position. A Bishop on h6 prevented Keith from castling, and following a number of piece exchanges Martin was a bishop up. The game lasted less than an hour, and when Keith resigned on move 22 Hastings was not only one game up, but all three of the other boards were going well.
Next to finish was Paul Kelly against Jonathan Britnell, on Board 2. Paul won this game, giving Hastings a 2:0 lead. During the post game review both Paul and Jonathan said that throughout the game they each thought that their position was leading. However, it turned out that Paul was the one reading the board correctly. A key factor in the final result was time pressure. Paul was playing his usual rapid style, not least because he was well practiced in the line being developed. His clock showed over an hour remaining. However, Jonathan was being more reflective, and was down to under 5 mintues.
The third game to finish was Bernard Cafferty on Board 1, who was facing Richard Welford. This game was a draw, which meant that Hastings was going to win the match. Reviewing their game both Bernard and Richard spotted missed opportunities, and they agreed that a draw was a fair result.
The final match was Board 3. Adrian Cload had gained an early pawn advantage against Peter Weston, but Peter had been able to turn this around. However, Adrian’s superior play was too strong for Peter and this game ended with another win for Hastings.
With a final score of 3 ½: ½ Hastings produced a very decisive win, and have moved up the league table. They are now hoping to repeat this performance in the final match of the season – a home match against Horsham 2nd team on 28th April.