Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club

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DOOM and gloom around the club this week: for the first time since anyone can remember we have failed to make the Final of the McArthur Cup, Sussex’s hallowed premier Cup competition.

For years the Final of this competition has demonstrated the hegemony of Brighton and Hastings in Sussex chess; no more, Hastings went down 3½-2½ at home in their semi-final v. Haywards Heath.

We were outgunned by excellent performances by the visitors’ top three, who whitewashed us, their two and three in particular raising their game. Our strength in depth made the score respectable but was not enough. Francis Rayner, John Sugden and Richard Almond were our unfortunate top three; Rasa Norinkeviciute won on 4, Bob Elliston drew on 5 and Paul Kelly won on 6.

Fortunately a state of success was maintained in the Mid-Sussex League where our first team notched up two victories. First, by 3½-1½ at Crowborough: wins for débutant Andrew Fleming and for Paul Kelly, with draws for John Sugden, Richard Almond and Howard Tebbs. Second, by 3½-1½ again, at home to Horsham B: wins for Sugden, Almond and Kelly, an unexpected loss for Francis Rayner on top, and a draw for Bernard Cafferty.

The team are unbeaten in the Mid-Sussex League but early drawn matches must count as points dropped and the last match of the season against 100%-ers Brighton in May looks like the big one already.

One nice match result in the League’s Handicap K.O. where an experimental father and sons team came from 2-0 down to get the 3 points necessary to overcome the handicap and win 3-2 against Lewes. Chris Howell père won, as did son Matthew while his brother Oliver lost; Leonardo Warda won but his father Siegfried lost.