Tradition! - The 96th Caplin Hastings International Chess Congress

by André Schulz
1/3/2023 – Of all traditional chess tournaments that still take place, the Chess Congress in Hastings has the longest tradition. This year, it sees its 96th edition. To celebrate the event, James Bacon, the mayor of Hastings, opened the tournament in his official attire. After the first six rounds Sarunas Sulskis from Lithuania leads with 6.0/6.

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The great chess tradition in the English seaside resort of Hastings dates back to 1882. On 28 June 1882, a chess congress was held at the Albert Temperance Hotel in Hastings, during which the Hastings and St. Leonards Chess Club was founded. In the following years, annual chess lectures were organised with master players and finally, in 1895, a major international tournament was organised. It had a fantastic line-up and established the fame of the Hastings tournaments: World champion Emanuel Lasker and his predecessor Wilhelm Steinitz took part but the two champions were outclassed by Harry Nelson Pillsbury, as were Siegbert Tarrasch and several other world-class players.

The participants of Hastings 1895

Standing (from left to right) Albin, Schlechter, Janowski, Marco, Blacklburne, Maroczy, Schiffers, Gunsberg, Burn, Tinsley; sitting: Vergani, Steinitz, Chigorin, Lasker, Pillsbury, Tarrasch, Mieses, Teichmann. Von Bardeleben, Bird, Mason, Walbrodt also took part but are not in the picture

Since 1920/21, the Hastings Chess Congress has been held annually at the turn of the year in Hastings, interrupted only by the Second World War and most recently by the Covid pandemic. For many years, these tournaments had a first-class line-up and the first ten World Champions in the history of chess all played at least once in Hastings. The 11. World Champion, Bobby Fischer, however, missed out but Anatoly Karpov continued the tradition.

In recent decades, the Hastings tournaments are not as strong as they used to be, but the tradition has continued, making Hastings the place with the longest continuous tournament tradition. In their splendid jubilee book "The Chess Battles of Hastings: Stories and Games of the Oldest Chess Tournament in the World" Jürgen Brustkern and Norbert Wallet remember this long tradition in an informative and entertaining way (for more details, see below).

Currently, the 96th Chess Congress takes place. Coincidence or not, this year, 96 players take part in the main tournament. Moreover, a large variety of amateur tournaments are offered. James Bacon, the Mayor of Hastings, opened the tournament in a traditional official dress.

Of the eleven grandmasters who were ready to battle in Hastings, Sarunas Sulskis had the best start. In the first six rounds, the Lithuanian grandmaster won all his games. One of his grandmaster colleagues, Oleg Korneev, was also among his opponents.


Standings after six rounds

Rk. Name  Tb1 
1 Sulskis Sarunas 6
2 Edouard Romain 4,5
  Petrov Martin 4,5
  Korpa Bence 4,5
  Nagy Gabor 4,5
  Clarke Brandon Gi 4,5
  Korneev Oleg 4,5
  Gormally Daniel W 4,5
  Hebden Mark L 4,5
  Grieve Harry 4,5
  Davies Nigel R 4,5
  Cherniaev Alexander 4,5
  Chan Kim Yew 4,5
  Walker Martin G 4,5
  Ismail Mohammed Aayan 4,5
16 Murphy Conor E 4
  Golding Alex 4
  Bazakutsa Svyatoslav 4
  Kueppers Timo 4
  Schimnatkowski Lukas 4
  Okhai Shabir 4
  Hryshchenko Kamila 4
  Payne Matthew J 4
24 Han Yichen 3,5
  Lalic Bogdan 3,5

...96 players



Jürgen Brustkern, Norbert Wallet, The Chess Battles of Hastings: Stories and Games of the Oldest Chess Tournament in the World, New in Chess 2022, Hardcover, 304 pages, €32.95


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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.