85th Hastings ICC – report

The 85th Hastings International Chess Congress drew to a close on 5th January at Horntye Park Sports Complex, Hastings. The closing ceremony was attended by Cllr. Maureen Charlesworth, Rt. Worshipful the Mayor of Hastings, Cllr. Peter Pragnell, Leader of Hastings Borough Council and prospective Conservative candidate Amber Rudd.
The Congress attracted players from 23 countries – including a Masters player from Iraq. The number of entries was similar to last year at 452. Organisers were pleased to see a number of new faces, who all expressed their hope to return for the 86th Congress. The Masters Tournament was a strong event and provided some interesting play, watched by a daily audience attending to listen to grandmaster Chris Ward’s live commentary. Games were also followed by an international audience via the internet – nine games were broadcast daily.
The Christmas and New Year events provided an opportunity for unrated players to enjoy competitive chess, some for the first time. The 27th Weekend Congress was won by Hastings’ Ambassador for Sport, International Master Thomas Rendle. Thomas’ family home remains in Hastings although he is away much of the time studying and pursuing his chess career.
Thanks must, once again, go to Hastings Borough Council for their continuing support without which the Congress would not continue. Invaluable additional sponsorship was given by the White Rock Hotel who provided accommodation for leading players. The Congress also wishes to thank The Pig in Paradise, Gwalia Resources, Deutsch UK and KC Computers for their support.
The Congress ran without incident and, luckily, without snow. The venue at Horntye Park is ideal, having adequate space to accommodate all tournaments, commentary and catering under one roof. A large-screen TV broadcasting cricket (from South Africa) and other international sports provided light relief for the players between games!
Luckily, most players left Hastings immediately after the prizegiving on 5th January, but snow hampered a quick getaway for those leaving on 6th – many of whom were travelling by road and rail to the North of England and Scotland, and overseas by air.
It is hoped that the 86th Hastings International Chess Congress will take place at the end of December 2010. No definite decision can be taken until after HBC Budget decisions are taken in the Spring. Meanwhile organisers continue their search for a major commercial sponsor.

Final standings – click here