Hastings And St Leonards Chess Club

IT’S been back to league action with a vengeance this month as all four Club teams had Mid-Sussex League fixtures.

In Division 1 our first team suffered a big blow to their title prospects by going down at home to Horsham, probably by 3-2: one game is unresolved but it cannot affect the match result. Francis Rayner won and Ollie Willson drew, but John Sugden and Alfredo Luaces both lost and we can only expect at best a draw in Jerry Anstead’s unresolved game.

Winning ways were restored the following week at Knoll Knights in Hove with a tight 3-2 win, Howard Tebbs being our sole winner with draws from Rayner, Sugden, Anstead and Paul Kelly. We now need to beat other main rivals Brighton & Hove, hope that Horsham slip up, and of course not slip up ourselves against other teams.

Our seconds, also in Division 1, went down as expected to Brighton firsts, 1-3 and looking like 2-3 (one game unresolved). ‘As expected’ however conceals a match of twists and turns in which the underdogs came close to landing killer blows but couldn’t make it stick.

Highlight was the win by Fairlight’s Finest Ollie Willson, who stopped former County Champion Rutherford on top board; Rutherford wryly said after the match that he had found the only line of play to lose in seeking to avoid a draw! Howard Tebbs, Paul Kelly and Steve Blewitt were all outgunned, but Bernard Cafferty is confident of his game being adjudicated a win. But the seconds are now firmly in the relegation mire.

The thirds, in Division 2, started 2014 with a win at the oddly named Argumentatives, a pub team in Staplefield near Crawley. Team captain Robert Smart set an example by winning, but it was another match of four drawn games, from Andrew Fleming, Mel Young, Laurence Butt and Derek Cosens, for a 3-2 victory.

Then the following week a 2½-2½ home draw against Eastbourne firsts: a win by Butt, a loss from Young, and more draws: from Fleming, Steve Blewitt and Jim Wheeler. Our thirds are unbeaten this season - but four of their five matches have ended all square, and a late surge is called for.

The fourths soared to a 100 per cent record with five wins from five matches. The team of youngsters from Hove Woodpushers were brushed aside 3½-1½, albeit with the occasional wobble: wins for Mason Woodhams, Adrian Cload and George Jelliss, a draw from Eric Houghton, but Ken Lucas went down.

The crunch match was at Brighton & Hove fifths, which was a 3-2 win, in the end comfortable but never easy. Umberto Jozwiak gave us an ideal start with an 11 move win, but it was two hours for the next result when Jeremy Hudson delivered an important second win. Paul Buswell and Keith Hossack then closed it down and clinched it with draws, leaving Con Power struggling on alone to no avail. Surely promotion at least is on the cards?