Hastings

Tradewise Insurance comes to rescue as Hastings feels squeeze from rivals
Leonard Barden on Chess
Friday 8 January 2016 13.42 EST

Hastings has the longest tradition of all international tournaments. It began in 1895 and has been staged annually since 1919 except for the war years. Eleven world champions have competed at the Sussex resort, a record equalled only by Holland’s Wijk aan Zee.

Sadly Hastings and its regular slot at the turn of the year have been relentlessly squeezed by rivals with far bigger budgets. It was already sandwiched between the London Classic and Wijk and is now overlapped by the super-open at Qatar. Hastings even looked destined for extinction when the local council, its backer for decades, decided that because of budget cuts support would cease in 2016-17. Rescue came when Tradewise Insurance, which already finances the globally popular Gibraltar Open, agreed to share backing and to become the sole Hastings sponsor next year.

As well as being in the shadow of the London, Qatar and Wijk giants Hastings also has direct competition from other Christmas and new year events in Groningen and Stockholm. It says much for the power of its tradition that Hastings 2015-16, with a modest prize fund, still attracted almost 100 entries from 17 nations, among them 13 grandmasters.

Aleksander Mista of Poland and Jahangir Vakhidov from Uzbekistan, two journeyman 2500-rated GMs, shared first with 7/9. The best three Englishmen, GM Glenn Flear, David Eggleston and Peter Batchelor, all totalled 6/9. Batchelor,19, from Willesden, London, was the star of the home contingent, confidently scoring his first master norm.

The most evocative participant was Oleg Romanishin, one of the golden Soviet legends, who won the Hastings Premier in 1976-77 when it was a top-class event. Following his triumph then he took on 30 English juniors in London, not knowing that he faced a powerful squad of future internationals. That display was remarkable for two attacking miniatures, one where Romanishin dispatched the future GM James Plaskett in a mere 14 moves, the other where he was himself overwhelmed by Simon Spivack, now a strong London expert.

Romanishin continued his personal tradition of action-packed miniatures in his entertaining 2015-16 Hastings victory over GM Simon Williams. He was lucky in his opponent since Williams is a fearless tactician who recently told an interviewer that he had played more interesting games than good ones.

Full article here.

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