Hastings Chess Congress (1st 1920/21, 95th 2019/20) plus Summer Congresses 1895, 1919, 1922, and 1995
The famous Hastings International Chess Congress is an annual chess event which takes place in the historic town Hastings, England, around the turn of the year, that's why it is often called Winter or Christmas Congress.
Hastings has been going on for three different centuries!
- The Hastings inauguration chess tournament
in 1895, also called Hastings Summer Congress, was a round-robin tournament conducted in Hastings, England from August 5 to September 2, 1895. This was arguably the strongest tournament in history at the time it occurred, and is also considered
one of the greatest tournaments ever in the history of chess. Hastings 1895 was one of the first tournaments to include all the top players, including former World Champion Wilhelm
Steinitz and current champion Emanuel Lasker, Mikhail Chigorin, Siegbert Tarrasch, Karl Schlechter, Joseph
Henry Blackburne, David Janowski, and others. The final result of the 22-game round-robin was a big surprise, as young American Harry
Nelson Pillsbury won with 16.5 points out of 21 points – ahead of Mikhail Chigorin and world
champion Emanuel Lasker – despite playing in his first international tournament.
The Hastings 1919 "Victory Tournament" was the first international tournament held in an allied country after World War I. The field was chiefly British, but the tournament was dominated by Cuban José Raúl Capablanca (soon to be World Champion) and Yugoslav grandmaster Borislav Kostić. Capablanca won 10.5/11 without a loss, drawing only his game to Kostić who placed second with 9.5. George Alan Thomas and Frederick Yates tied for 3rd-4th with 7 points.
The four "Summer Congress" events (1895, 1919, 1922, and the hundred years jubilee Open in 1995) are kept separate from the annual Winter (Christmas) Congress Hastings events, beginning in 1920/21. There was no tournament during the World War II in 1940/41, 1941/42, 1942/43, 1943/44, and 1944/45.
The main event at the Congresses is the Hastings Premier tournament, which was traditionally an invitation 10 to 16 player round-robin tournament, sometimes with an additional Amateur Open, a youth, senior or women section and other events. In 2004/05 the premium tournament was played in the knock out format; since 2005/06 Hastings is played as an Open using the swiss system.
Today the series has lost somehow its status as a super-tournament, but from its renowned inauguration event in 1895, the following Summer Congresses in 1919 and 1922, in the 1930s and the 1950s up to the 1970s, Hastings was an absolute MUST for every top player.
The Hastings International Chess Congress (HICC) welcomed for the edition of 2015/16 Tradewise Insurance Services as a new sponsor, in conjunction with Hastings Borough Council and the English Chess Federation. Thanks also go to the other stalwart supporters, The White Rock Hotel, The Lansdowne Hotel, KC Computers, and The John Robinson Trust whose sponsorship is all vital to the event. Though Hastings has a proud history, the organisers now hope that this new sponsorship of Tradewise will turn the focus to a bright new future and the next event will prove to be the start of a regenerated Hastings Congress. Tradewise is synonymous with the Gibraltar Festival and this is a hard act to live up to.
The winner of the Hastings Masters, the main section, will hold the Golombek Trophy in name for one year.
First winner at Hastings ever was Harry Nelson Pillsbury in the legendary summer chess congress event in 1895. The first winner of the annually played year-end winter (Christmas) event that we know today was Frederick Yates in 1920/21.
- Recent winners: In 2017/18, Indian GM Deep Sengupta and Chinese IM Yiping Lou, having both
a final score of 7 points. They shared the first prize – each receiving £1,600 and being jointly awarded the Golombek Trophy by Cllr. Judy Rogers, Mayor of Hastings and Dominic Lawson, President of the English Chess Federation. It is Sengupta's
third Hastings title. The edition of 2018/19 ended in a six-way tie, with GM Oleg Korneev (representing Spain), one of the most active grandmasters of the world, as first on tie-break.
- Hastings has always been a proving ground for young talents, too. In 2016/2017, it was Ramesh Praggnanandhaa, at eleven years the youngest ever International Master, who claimed attention. The Indian prodigy remained unbeaten, recovered strongly to win from a dubious position in the final round, scored 6½/9 and finished with joint second prize, just half a point behind his countryman Deep Sengupta who then won as clear first. It was Praggna's best performance yet and showed clear grandmaster potential (Leonard Barden in The Guardian).
Vera Menchik (Czechoslovakia), who was then the Women's World Champion, was the first woman to play in the Premier section, participating in several tournaments from 1929/30 through 1936/37.
Vera Menchik (16 February 1906 – 27 June 1944) was a British-Czech chess player who gained renown as the world's first women's chess champion. She also competed in chess tournaments with some of the world's leading male chess masters, defeating many of them, including future World Champion Max Euwe.
In 1944, during one of the last German air attacks on London, the 38-year-old Vera, who was widowed the previous year, still holding the title of women's world champion, her sister Olga, and their mother were killed in a V-1 flying bomb attack which destroyed their home in the Clapham area of South London. (Source: Wikipedia)
In 1963/64 Nona Gaprindashvili (USSR) won the Hastings Challengers when she also was Women's World Champion, earning a spot in the next years Premier section. In the 1964/65 Premier she scored 5/9 to place fifth, beating all of the British masters in the tournament.
Judit Polgár is the first (and only) woman to win the Hastings Premier, she was triumphator together with Evgeny Bareev (USSR) at Hastings International Chess Congress in 1992/93. Previously, Judit Polgar claimed already the Challengers section as clear first, played as an Open at Hastings in 1988/89, twelve and a half years young!
Btw.: Judit Polgar is also the only woman to be clear runner-up at Wijk aan Zee, in 2003, half a point and unbeaten behind winner Anand (for more, see under Wijk aan Zee tournament).
Wilhelm Steinitz and his followers
Every World Chess Champion before Kasparov except Fischer played at Hastings Congresses:
Wilhelm Steinitz (Summer Congress 1895), Emanuel Lasker (Summer Congress 1895), José Raúl Capablanca (Summer Congress 1919, 1929/30, 1930/1 and 1934/5), Alexander Alekhine (Summer Congress 1922, 1925/26, 1933/34 and 1936/37), Max Euwe (1923/44, 1930/31, 1931/32, 1934/35, 1945/36 and 1949/50), Mikhail Botvinnik (1934/35, 1961/62 and 1966/67), Vasily Smyslov (1954/55, 1962/63 and 1968/99), Mikhail Tal (1963/64), Tigran Petrosian (1977/78), Boris Spassky (1965/66), and Anatoly Karpov (1971/72).
Champions to play the Congress while currently holding the title were Emanuel Lasker at Hastings 1895 Summer Congress (won by Harry Nelson Pillsbury) and Alexander Alekhine at the 1933/34 Winter Christmas Congress (won by Salo Flohr).
Alekhine had already won the Summer Congress of 1922 and won Hastings Christmas at two other occasions. Lasker as well as Steinitz only played the first Hastings Congress in 1895.
Albo d' Oro
Five and most tournament wins at Hastings (alone or tied) scored Svetozar Gligorić (1951/52, 1956/57 shared, 1959/60, 1960/61, and 1962/63 shared).
Four wins at Hastings realized Salo Flohr (consecutively in 1931/32, 1932/33, 1933/34, and 1934/35 shared), Savielly Tartakower (1924/25 shared, 1926/27, 1927/28, and 1945/46), and László Szabó (1938/39, 1947/48, 1949/50, and 1973/74 shared), who also holds at Hastings International Chess Congress the longest winning span, with a stretch of incredible 35 years!
Three wins for Alexander Alekhine (including the summer congress in 1922), Max Euwe, Wolfgang Uhlmann, Bent Larsen, Vlastimil Hort, Ulf Andersson, Evgeny Bareev (always in closed editions), as well as in the rather recent swiss system years Valery Neverov, Deep Sengupta, and Mark Hebden (contrary to the other thrice-winners, he had all shared, including one closed co-win).
Further congress winners with one or two wins – among many others –
Yates, Kostic, Capablanca (twice-winner including the summer congress 1919), Rubinstein, Marshall, Vidmar, Maroczy, Colle,
Thomas, Rossolimo, Fine, Reshevsky, C.H.O'D. Alexander, Unzicker, Keres, Botvinnik, Kotov, Bronstein,
Golombek, Penrose, Parr, Yanofsky, Korchnoi, Smyslov, Tal, Spassky, F. Olafsson, Suetin,
Stein, Kuzmin, Portisch, Hort, Karpov, Timman, Gheorghiu, Sveshnikov, Kupreichik, Romanishin,
Vaganian, Short, Chandler, Nunn, Speelman, Conquest, Lputian, Lalic, Dzindzichashvili, Dolmatov,
Sutovsky, Petursson, Istratescu, Kotronias, Nielsen, Luther, Barsov, Khenkin, Sasikiran, Harikrishna,
I. Sokolov, Khalifman, Rozentalis, Romain, Rowson, Sadler, Howell, Jones, Wang Yue, Kurnosov,
and Judit Polgar (1992/93 shared), and Atalik (1995 summer congress 100-year jubilee), and Pillsbury (clear first of the super-strong tournament at Hastings summer congress in 1895).
Great chess players also competing, but <not winning> at Hastings: Steinitz (summer 1895), Lasker (summer 1895), Chigorin (summer 1895), Tarrasch (summer 1895), Schlechter (summer 1895), Bogoljubov (summer 1922), Réti, Kmoch, Sultan Khan, Vera Menchik, Lilienthal, Eliskases, Winter, Koltanowski, Pirc, Prins, O'Kelly de Galway, Najdorf, Benkö, Pachman, Ivkov, Barden, Wade, Hartston, Browne, Hübner, Miles, Keene, Stean, Botterill, Basman, Mestel, Flear, Mecking, Sosonko, Seirawan, Sax, Adorjan, Csom, Ftacnik, Gulko, Psakhis, Yusupov, Beliavsky, Nikolic, Torre, Spraggett, Webb, Wells, Adams, Hodgson, Plaskett, Gallagher, McShane, Gormally, Williams, Karjakin, and Maia Chiburdanidze, Pia Cramling, Xie Jun, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Taimanov, Averbakh, and former World Chess Champion Petrosian.
Nimzowitsch, as well as Fischer, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, and Carlsen did never take part.
Viktor Korchnoi played four times and won twice at Hastings, at his very first participation in 1955/56 shared with Fridrik Olafsson (Island) ahead of Borislav Ivkov (Yugoslavia), followed by Mark Taimanov (USSR) and at his second participation in 1970/71 together with Anatoly Karpov (USSR) - with Korchnoi winning their direct encounter - ahead of brazilian prodigy Henrique Mecking, shared together with Robert Byrne (USA), followed by Svetozar Gligoric (Yugoslavia) and Miguel Najdorf (Argentina).
In 1975/76, Korchnoi was fourth behind the three joint winners David Bronstein (USSR), Vlastimil Hort (CSR), and Wolfgang Uhlmann (GDR), ahead of Mark Taimanov (USSR), with a bunch of young and promising brits competing for the first english origin grandmaster title, among them Tony Miles, who won that race, Keene, Stean, Nunn and Hartston. In 1988/89, Viktor Korchnoi was runner-up behind Nigel Short (England), ahead of shared third Jonathan Speelman (England), Boris Gulko (then USA, emigrated from USSR), Vasily Smyslov (USSR), and followed by Bent Larsen (Denmark).
Viktor Korchnoi earned the grandmaster title by FIDE after winning Hastings in 1955/56, it was his very first individual chess tournament abroad eastern countries and only the second individual tournament abroad after being clear first at Bucharest in 1954, subsequently earning the IM title. There was no ELO metrics, and the grandmaster title, in its inauguration 1950 donated to 27 players (half of them due to historical achievements), was restricted to absolute elite players, until the 1970s there were far less than 100 Chess Grandmasters worldwide alive.
This event is by far the longest major recurring international classical chess tournament in annually tradition still existing.
Hastings International Chess Congress (Wikipedia)
The Hastings International Chess Congress (Tournament homepage)
http://www.endgame.nl/hastings.htm (Survey by Jan van Reek, inactive)
The mystery of Salomon Flohr
"Eventually he moved to Prague, where many cafés were filled with chess players. These cafés turned into his chess schools and his job, since he quickly realized that he had an amazing talent for blitz chess. Years passed, he became the monster of the cafés, he made a living from blitz bets, and he learned more and more about the game as time ticked by. This bohemian lifestyle might have gone on forever, if a Czech journalist hadn’t asked Flohr to come with him to a big international tournament (Kissingen) as an assistant, ... when the players would fill a local café to look at their games, he couldn’t resist pointing out new ideas or improvements. Coming across an unknown who had such a deep understanding of chess is almost unheard of, and a buzz was created in the chess community."
Jeremy Silman, IM and chess author on Salomon Flohr in a beautiful article:
cp. Hort on Flohr: http://en.chessbase.com/post/vlastimil-hort-on-salo-flohr
Biography of the first winner at the great Hastings Summer Congress 1895
Harry Nelson Pillsbury (December 5, 1872 – June 17, 1906) was a leading chess player.
At the age of 22, Pillsbury won at Hastings Summer Congress in 1895 one of the strongest chess tournaments ever played - but his illness and early death prevented him from challenging for the World Chess Championship.
The US Brooklyn chess club sponsored his journey to Europe to play in the Hastings 1895 chess tournament, in which all the greatest players of the time participated. The 22-year-old Pillsbury became a celebrity in the United States and abroad by winning the tournament, finishing sole first, and before reigning world champion Emanuel Lasker on third place (Hastings summer 1895 was Lasker’s first tournament as new World Chess Champion since 1894), dethroned world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, recent challengers Mikhail Chigorin (who was second) and Isidor Gunsberg, and future challengers Siegbert Tarrasch, Carl Schlechter and Dawid Janowski (22 players). Géza Maróczy conquered the Minor Tournament and Lady Thomas prevailed in the Ladies’ Tournament.
The dynamic style that Pillsbury exhibited during the Hastings tournament also helped to popularize the Queen's Gambit during the 1890s. (Source for Pillsbury: Wikipedia)
Summer Congress 1922; Winter Congress 1934/35
Hastings Summer 1922
1 Alekhine 7½
2 Rubinstein 7
3= Thomas 4½
3= Bogoljubov 4½
5 Tarrasch 4
6 Yates 2½
In September of 1922, the organizers of the Hastings chess congress decided to hold a masters tournament which would pit two English masters against four of the best from the European continent. The participants of the double round robin were Alexander Alekhine, Efim Bogoljubov, Akiba Rubinstein, Siegbert Tarrasch, George Alan Thomas, and Frederick Yates. Alekhine managed to edge out superstar Rubinstein by half a point in the final, winning his most famous game ever against long time rival Bogoljubov.
Hastings Winter 1934/35
1= Thomas 6½ (2.)
1= Flohr 6½ (3.)
4 Capablanca 5½
5 Lilienthal 5
5= Botvinnik 5
7 Michell 4
8 Menchik 3
9 Norman 1½
10 Milner-Barry 1½
The 1934/35 winter festival had probably the strongest Premier group in the history of Christmas Congresses with three former or future World Chess Champions (winner Euwe, Capablanca and Botvinnik), and reigning female World Chess Champion Vera Menchik.
Thomas having the tournament of his life, without a doubt his greatest achievement was this tie for first place at Hastings with Max Euwe and Salomon Flohr, finishing ahead of and defeating both Capablanca and Botvinnik!
His last round opponent was fellow countryman Michell. In almost any other country, the result would have been foreordained: a friendly draw, and Thomas finishes no worse than a tie for first.
But that's not how Sir George Thomas played chess. The game was hard-fought, and Michell emerged victorious. But there was a happy ending; Max Euwe, in a better position against tail-ender Norman, made a sporting gesture of his own by offering a draw and settling for a first-place tie with Thomas and Flohr, who had been hanging around in the background the whole time.