Hastings International Chess Congress

by Activ Hastings

The Hastings International Chess Congress, recognised as one of the important Chess Events of the World, has taken place each Christmas/New Year in Hastings every year since 1920, except for a break during the war years of 1941/5. 2010 will be the 86th Congress.

The Hastings International Chess Congress is an annual chess congress which takes place in Hastings, Sussex around the turn of the year. The main event is the Hastings Premier Tournament, which has traditionally been a 10 to 16 player torunament held alongside an open Challengers Event.

History of Chess in Hastings
The Norman's introduced chess to Hastings - William the Conqueror was a chess player and famously broke a chess board over the head of his nephew, Louis after accusing him of cheating. Fortunately the current organisers of chess in Hastings no longer permit this kind of behaviour.

The Hastings International Chess Congress grew out of the huge interest in chess amongst the educated classes in the 1880's. In 1882 an advertisement appeared in the local paper which read: "A meeting of those interested in chess will be held at the Albert Temperance Hotel, Queens Road, Hastings on Wednesday 28th June 1882".

The meeting was attended by a group of professional people and business men who formed the Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club. Herbert Dobell was elected Secretary and his continued tireless involvement meant that regular regional matches were held resulting in County matches being played at Hastings for the first time.

Herbert Dobell's father, a Jeweller with a shop in Robertson St, was the newly formed club's first Treasurer. Herbert inherited the Jewellers business on his father's death and ran it for the rest of his life. Though only a teenager at the time Herbert was appointed Secretary on a temporary basis for 6 months but went on to hold the post for 25 years. Herbert was Club Champion 4 times and later served as Club President from 1921-1938 when he died in office.

The first Hastings International Chess Congress was held over the Christmas/New Year in 1920/21 and except for a break during WWII has taken place every year since. 2009/10 was the 85th Hastings International Chess.

The fact that the Hastings Congress takes place every year is due to the tireless organising committee and the commitment of the Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club. The wider chess community remains indebted to Hastings Borough Council for their continuing support along with several local sponsors.

Alongside the main Premier event which is by invitation to the world's top players there is the Challengers section, which is open to all players. The winner of the Challengers event earns an invitation in the following year's Premier.

In addition to the annual international tournament at the Christmas Congress, Hastings has also hosted international tournaments at irregular intervals in its Summer Congress.

The Congress has been held in the Hastings Town Hall, Waverly Hotel,, White Rock Pavilion, Sun Lounge in St Leonards, Falaise Hall and Horntye Sports Centre.

Later in 2010 information and coverage on the 86th Hastings International Chess Congress will be available on Activ Hastings, the online guide to Hastings and the 1066 Area.

About the Author

Activ Hastings is the online guide to Hastings, UK and is a single source for local information for local people and visitors to the area.