The Norman’s introduced chess to Hastings – William the Conqueror
was a chess player and once broke a chess board over the head of his nephew,
Louis the Fat, having accused him of cheating. Fortunately the arbiters no
longer permit this kind of behaviour at Hastings.
The present Congress grew out of the great interest in chess shown in the
1880’s. On 15th June 1882 an advertisement appeared in the local paper
which read: “A meeting of those interested in chess will be held at the
Albert Temperance Hotel, Queens Road, Hastings on Wednesday 28th June 1882.
The meeting was attended by a group of professional and business men who formed
the Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club. Herbert Dobell was elected Secretary
which proved to be a significant event for the whole chess world. His vision
meant that regular regional matches were held and County matches were played
at Hastings for the first time.
An annual festival was started which included lectures and exhibitions. The
festival was enhanced by leading players of the day including Lasker, Gunsberg,
Janowski and Teichmann and especially by J. H.Blackburne, who later became
a resident of Hastings.
The strength of the club increased and this paved the way for the great Hastings
Tournament of 1895 – still regarded as probably the greatest chess tournament
Hastings 1895. Standing: Albin, Schlechter, Janowski, Marco, Blackburne,
Maroczy, Schiffers, Gunsberg, Burn, Tinsley. Seated: Vergani, Steinitz, Tchigorin,
Lasker, Pillsbury, Tarrasch, Mieses, Teichhmann.
Click table to enlarge
The 1895 tournament was a 22-player round robin. The favourites were Emanual
Lasker, the reigning world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, the previous world champion,
and Siegbert Tarrasch, who considered himself to be the strongest player in
the world. But they only came in 3–5. The winner was the young American
upstart Harry Nelson Pilsbury, ahead of the fiery Russian Mikhail Tchigorin.
The Hastings Premier 2003 took place from December 28th 2003 to January 5th
2004 in the Horntye Sports Centre in Hastings. The winners were Jonathan Rowson
and Vasilios Kotronias, each with 6.0/9.0 points. Here
are all the games in PGN
Horntye Sports Centre, the venue for all tournaments
Kateryna Lahno being presented with a birthday cake by Stewart Reuben (she
was 14 on the day before the Congress started) in the presence of some of the
other Premier players.
The Mayor (Councillor Phil Scott) playing the first move for Vladimir Epishin
on Kateryna Lahno's board. Watching, is the local MP Michael Foster. Kateryna
scored a creditable 4.0/9.0 with an Elo performance of 2520.
The winner: Scottish number one, Jonathan Rowson. He is only the sixth
Scot to play in the Hastings Premier (after William Fairhurst, Dr James Aitken,
David Levy, Colin McNab and Paul Motwani) and his was the best ever result
by a Scot.
Steve Stepak of Boston, USA wrote us: "On behalf of
the Boylston Chess Club (Boston/Somerville, USA), the Au Bon Pain Cafe (Cambridge,
USA) and the greater New England chess community, I wish to extend congratulations
to Jonathan Rowson for winning the prestigous and difficult Hastings tournament.
Of course we take full credit for this! You see, Jonathan spent a good part
of the summer in Boston/Cambridge, USA playing most of our good players, including
our USA Champion who lives in Cambridge (Larry Christiansen) and teaching our
chess kids at the Boylston CC Boston, and playing blitz at the outdoor cafe
Au Bon Pain (Cambridge, USA). Indeed, we gave him a rich and satisfying chess
experience. No doubt he benefited from this and took his pleasant memories
back to England where he summoned his chess capabilities and won the Hastings
Christmas/New Years event. Bravo Jonathan!!! from the chess players of Boston