The 92nd Hastings International Chess Congress is under way from 28 December. Watch LIVE
The event runs until January 5 and is dedicated to the memory of Con Power, Congress Secretary from 1983 until 2015.
I particularly remember that period for the centenary summer congress of 1995, not least its extremely strong qualifying event for the Intel Rapid Grand Prix in London.
There are tournaments throughout this year’s Congress for players of all abilities, including a weekend congress from Friday 30 December until Sunday 1st January.
The top section is the 9-round Masters, which thanks to the support of Tradewise Insurance boasts a first prize of £2,000.
At the time of writing 11 grandmasters are down to play with the 2649-rated Indian GM S.P. Sethuraman the top seed.
The home challenge is headed up by Hastings stalwarts Keith Arkell, Danny Gormally and Mark Hebden.
The last-named of those finished just outside the prizes at the London Chess Classic, but played a strong field, giving along the way a master class in the Benko Gambit.
6…Bg7 7.e4 0-0 8.Nf3 Qa5 is the modern interpretation, hoping for 9.Bd3? Nxd5!, but Hebden prefers the traditional main line.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Nbd7 9.Bg2 Bg7 10.0-0 Nb6 11.Re1 0-0 12.e4 Nfd7! (Bringing another piece over to the queenside where Black plans to attack) 13.Qc2 Nc4 14.Bf1 Nde5 15.Nh4 Qa5 (Black’s pieces flow to good squares and already White may have nothing better than the radical 16.f4 Ng4 17.Bxc4!? Bxc4 18.Nf3) 16.Kg2 Rfb8 17.h3? 17…Nxb2! (Crashing through, and if 18.Bxb2 Bxf1+ 19.Rxf1 Nc4 resembles the game) 18.Bxa6 Rxa6 19.Bxb2 Nc4 (The pressure down the long dark-square diagonal ensures Black will regain the piece) 20.Rab1 Nxb2 21.e5 Rab6 22.Nf3 c4 (Hebden exploits another common Benko motif, the hole on d3) 23.Re3 Nd3 24.Rxb6 Qxb6 25.Na4 Qb5 26.exd6 exd6 27.Re4? (Now White must either lose d5 or a piece, but even 27.Nc3 Qa5 28.Ne4 Qxd5 looks extremely grim) 27…Nb4! 28.Qxc4!? Qxa4 29.Qc7 Qa8 30.Ng5 Rb7 31.Qxd6 Bf8 32.Qf4 Nxd5 33.Qf3 Ra7 34.Kh2 h6 35.Rd4 hxg5 36.Qxd5 Rxa2 37.Qxa8 Rxa8 38.Rd5 Be7 39.Kg2 Ra2 40.Kf3 Rc2 41.Ke3 Kg7 42.Rb5 Ra2 43.Kf3 f5 44.Rb7 Kf7 45.Ke3 Ke6 46.Rb6+ Bd6 0-1
Arkell was below form at the World Senior Championships in Marianske Lazne last month, but bounced back at the London Chess Classic, where in the Open he defeated the eventual co-winner, Sebastian Maze of France.
Hawkins – Compton, LCC Open. The 2015 British Champion began the Open in style. White to play and win:
29.Rxf7+! Kg8 (29…Bxf7 30.Qf5+ Bg6 (or 30…Kg8 31.h7+ Kg7 32.Qf6+) 31.Qd7+ Kg8 (30.h7+! 30.Rf2 32.Qg7# is the main point) was quicker: 30…Kxf7 (or 30…Bxh7 31.Bh6+! Kxf7 32.Qe6#) 31.Qd7+ Kf8 30…Rf8 31.Qe6+ Bf7 32.Qf6 1–0
Hastings International Chess Congress Watch LIVE
The Hastings 1895 chess tournament was a round-robin tournament of chess conducted in Hastings, England from August 5 to September 2, 1895.
Hastings 1895 was arguably the strongest tournament in history at the time it occurred. All of the top players of the generation competed. It was one of the first times such a “super-tournament” was conducted. (source wikipedia)