World stage for chess players

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The 90th Hastings International Chess Congress got under way this week at Horntye Park Sports Complex.

Players from across the world descended on the venue in Bohemia Road as the annual event kicked off on Monday (December 29).

The opening was attended by Councillor Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council and Dominic Lawson, now president of the English Chess Federation.

Congress chairman, Paul Smith gave a welcoming speech and the event was officially opened by Cllr Birch. Both he and Mr Lawson were invited to make the first moves.

Pam Thomas, spokeswoman for the congress, said: “Hastings Borough Council is once again sponsor of the congress and Cllr Birch said he was impressed with the emphasis this year on young players and hoped Hastings would continue to encourage young players in the future.

“Additional funding was awarded this year by the Kowitz Family Foundation in collaboration with Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC).

The award was given to encourage participation 
by young people and, as a result, a number of bursaries were given to junior players. Additional, much-appreciated support comes from the White Rock Hotel, the Lansdowne Hotel, KC Computers and Orion Energy.

“Entries have been coming in from home and abroad and the number of entries is currently approaching 400, more than in recent previous years. We now have 24 countries represented.”

Top seed in the Masters Tournament is Israeli Grandmaster Maxim Rodshtein followed by Grandmasters Romain Edouard (France), Alexandr Mista (Poland), Alexandr Fier (Brazil) and Jun Zhao (China).

As well as the Masters and Christmas Tournaments, the 32nd Weekend Congress will take place from today (Friday) until Sunday (January 4) and the New Year tournament will take place on January 5 and 6.

Selected games in the Masters can be watched online daily from around 2.30pm and a live commentary is given daily from 2.45pm by English Grandmaster Chris Ward.

Visitors are welcome and admission is free.

Full details can be found at www.hastingschess.com.