Howell Hastings hopes take sixth-round blow

Studies in concentration ' chess opponents consider their options at this year's Hastings Congress
Studies in concentration ' chess opponents consider their options at this year's Hastings Congress
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THE world-famous Hastings International Chess Congress drew in grandmasters from all over the world this week.

The event, which was opened last Tuesday by council leader Jeremy Birch and deputy mayor Councillor Alan Roberts, saw more than 100 players from 23 countries compete.

The contest, which is in its 86th year, was hosted at Horntye Park Sports Complex and included the Masters tournament for internationally-rated players. Entries included 11 grandmasters, among them last year’s four joint winners, Edouard Romain from France, Andrei Istratescu from Romania and Mark Hebden and David Howell from England.

The sixth round led to disappointment for Howell who had been leading the tournament when he lost to Romain. The Hastings weekend tournament, which had sections for all levels of players, attracted scores of competitors. Stuart Conquest, English grandmaster and a former Hastings resident, was the winner of the weekend tournament, and was presented with a trophy by Paul Smith, Chess Congress chairman.

The annual event was visited on Sunday by CJ de Mooi, from the TV show Eggheads, president of the English Chess Association. He presented a giant chess set, on behalf of the association to staff and children from in2play, which runs the council’s adventure playground in Ore.

English grandmaster Chris Ward gave a live commentary throughout the contest. MP Amber Rudd and mayor Kim Forward presented trophies and cash prizes at a ceremony on Wednesday night. Pam Thomas, publicity officer for the congress, said: “Several countries were prepresented for the first time, such as Indonesia and we had a huge contingent from India.”