The Hastings International Chess Congress organisers have been advised by Hastings Borough Council that they propose cutting the funding by 50% to £10,000 for the next event and cutting funding completely for the following year. This was announced in the Hastings Observer of 16th January 2015.
The Congress has been aware of the likelihood of cuts for some time bearing in mind the draconian cuts faced by the Borough Council. The Congress AGM will take place on 21st March 2015 and the main topic will undoubtedly be the future of the event.
Hastings International Chess Congress ended on Tuesday 6th January 2015.
This year there was an outright winner – Grandmaster Zhao Jun from China with 8 points out of 9. He holds the Golombek Trophy for one year and received first prize of £2,000. The presentation was made by Mr. Dominic Lawson, President of the English Chess Federation who was also present at the opening ceremony.
The prizegiving ceremony was preceded by a buffet reception hosted by the Trustees of Horntye Park Sports Complex. The ceremony was also attended by Cllr.Bruce Dowling, Rt.Worshipful the Mayor of Hastings, Peter Finchand trustees of Horntye Park Sports Complex, Cllrs Maureen Charlesworth and Dominic Sabetian, Council representative Kevin Boorman and sponsors Laurence and Catherine Parr of the White Rock Hotel. Players and Congress organizers also attended when time allowed as the last crucial game affecting prizes below 1st did not finish until after 9.00pm.
Congress Chairman, Paul Smith, hosted the prizegiving. He noted that 27 countries were represented and that entries totaled 384 which was higher than last year. He made mention of the uncertainty regarding future funding bearing in mind the cuts expected by HBC but hoped that, one way or another, players and organizers would meet again for the 91st Congress in 2015-16. He thanked the Trustees and staff of Horntye Park for their smooth running of the event.
Cllr. Dowling, Mayor of Hastings, welcomed players to Hastings and said that he has had an interest in chess since school days. He hoped that players had enjoyed theirvisit to Hastings and would return for more chess and also as visitors to the town.
Dominic Lawson praised the standard and quality of the games and said that, as well as visiting the venue several times, he had spent a good deal of time watching the games on-line. One player whose games were given special mention was Mr. Wahbi Kheit from Israel who won the prize for best performance by a non GM or IM.
In joint second place with 7 /9 points were GM Alexandr Fier (BRA), IM Gudmundur Kjartasson (ISL) and GM Aleksander Mista (POL) who each received £816.67
In joint 5th Place were GM Keith Arkell (ENG), GM Jonathan Hawkins (ENG), GM Maxixme Lagarde (FRA), Jahongir Vakhidov (UZB) who each received £160.
The Horntye Park “Winner of Best Game” Prize was won by GM Aleksander Mista for his game against Romain Edouard of France. The Horntye Trophy and £100 were presented by Peter Finch on behalf of the Horntye Park Trustees.
The prize of £200 for Best Performance by a Woman was shared by WGM Nino Maisuradze (FRA) and WIM Teresa Olsarova (CZE) .
Often there is an ‘end of term’ feeling to the last round of a 9 day or more tournament. Players are content to agree a draw with their new or old friends. This was not at all the case here where there was so much going on it was impossible to keep up with everything.
Jun Zhao had 7½/8, but Alexandr Fier could finish first equal if he beat the Chinese player with the white pieces. You would have thought the Brazilian could play riskily, since it was quite likely he would be able to bail out to a draw if things got sticky. However perhaps there was another factor. Let us compare it with poker. There, if a player is doing well, then the opponents show great respect and avoid tangling with the man in form. Zhao has definitely been the player on heat. Thus perhaps it was unsurprising that the game fizzled out into a relatively mild draw. 8/9 then for Zhao and the winner’s purse of £2000. His mother accompanied him to England and I presume she has a nice, warm feeling about the event. The Chinese player gained 2.56 x 10 rating points with a TPR of 2852. Only three other players achieved a TPR greater than 2600+.
Aleksander Mista v Romain Edouard was a clash between two of the three 2600+ players. Again Romain didn’t seem to mind playing Kf8, foregoing his castling rights. An interesting, highly complex middle game resulted where Black had a strong centre, but a somewhat exposed king. I found it all very confusing, which is the type of chess I enjoy. So obviously did the audience at Chris Ward’s commentary and this received the Horntye Centre £100 Best Game Prize.
Maxim Lagarde v Keith Arkell was another game that was difficult to understand. Why Qc8 rather than Qd7? Was b5 really necessary, saddling black with a backward c pawn. Keith had to defend the endgame K+N v K+2B for 41 moves. This is a notoriously difficult endgame to draw. Usually we find Keith with the winning chances, particularly in the endgame K+R+B v K+R.