Monday, 17 August 2020

Hastings Decision Imminent

I HAVE spent every New Year since 1989 in Hastings, and I have often wondered: "What would I do if the chess congress were not to be held?"
The answer to my question may be forthcoming this year as the congress - this year would be the 100th edition - is seriously endangered.
One option being touted by John Ashworth, chief executive of the congress's newish sponsor Caplin, is a cheaters' charter online tournament, or tournaments, with an over-the-board congress of some sort delayed until the spring.
In an interview with Phil Makepeace of The Chess Pit, Ashworth talks of a covid "second wave," being "exceptionally cautious" and claims the vast majority of Hastings participants are in the "higher-risk category."
This is described on the congress website as "extremely positive."
The organising committee of Hastings International Chess Congress meets this Saturday, in person or virtually, to decide if a proper congress will go ahead for 2020-21.
If England were part of continental Europe, I have little doubt such a prestigious event would be held more-or-less as normal.
But this is England ...


  1. Hi Tim. Thanks for your interest in Hastings. I've only just seen this post, and, of course, life has moved on since my interview and your remarks here. I stand by my original caution, and there is much regret but little controversy that a physical event cannot take place. I'm not sure it would be different elsewhere in Europe, by the way. 10 of the players will be there by invitation and represent the highest levels in UK chess. The other 2 will be drawn from winners of the ECF Online Championships (which Caplin is also sponsoring). Jovanka Houska and Simon Williams will be commentating on the Hastings event, so I hope it will still be of interest to those, like you, who have been long term supporters of the Congress. Kind regards - John Ashworth.

  2. Hi John. Thanks for your interest in my blog. I am sure there are many people who cannot understand my hostility to cancellations, just as there are many people who cannot understand why anyone would want to play when there is a scary virus in the air. The bottom line is that many tournaments in Europe have gone ahead (I have managed five since England's first lockdown ended), while Caplin's much-vaunted sponsorship of Hastings has resulted in one congress (2019-20) being held that would have been held with or without Caplin, and one (2020-21) being cancelled. One can argue who is primarily responsible for that situation, but a .500 record, as it would be expressed in American sports, is nothing to boast about.