The Hastings Chess Congress, has been part of the festive season in the UK, (for chess players and fans anyway), since the games of its first edition got underway in 1920. Other than the years of WWII, the tournament has not missed a year since. Among those to have graced the congress, are greats such as Larsen, Karpov, Bronstein, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik and Keres.
The 2015/16 edition, was held between December 28th and January 5th. It would be a 9-round Swiss format, and would see Hungary’s Ferenc Berkes (FIDE: 2648) as top seed. Domestic favourites such as Daniel Gormally, Glenn Flear, Kieth Arkell and Mark Hebden, would also be in attendance.
Poland’s Alexander Mista emerged an early leader, taking the top slot after round 3, being the only one with a 100% score. He would hold that with another win in round 4. However, in round 5, he would come up against Uzbekistan’s Jahongir Vakhidov, and receive a stern message that it would not be a case of one-way-traffic.
Thanks to the above win, the standings after round-5, saw Vakhivov having leapt in to the lead, with 4.5/9. A string of players were just behind him, with 4/5, including Mista and veteran GM, Oleg Romanishin. Round 6 saw Vakhidov falter, losing with White to Ferenc Berkes. This saw Berkes going in to the lead with 5/9, along with Mista and Fodor, who also won their games.
In round 7, Vakhinov was back to his winning ways, and due to his main rivals drawing their games, he had jumped back in to contention as part of a 4-way tie for the lead. In round 8, he had claimed the top slot for himself again, notching up a full point against Tamas Fodor. Going in to the final round, he was a half point clear of Berkes, Khenkin, Mista, Sulskis and Flear. If he wanted to win the tournament outright, he would need victory over Khenkin with black. Their game was not really very eventful, however, and in the end was a 36-move draw. This gave the opportunity to those just behind him to be spoilers.
The above win allowed Aleksander Mista to catch Jahongir Vakhidov, notching up shared first with a score of 7/9. They netted themselves £1600 ($2298 / €2123) each and will jointly hold the Harry Golombek Trophy for a year. Berkes, Khenkin, Sulskis, Fodor and Sarkar were the best of the rest, with 6.5/9. Notable also, was Oleg Romanishin’s performance, the 64-year-old showing that he can still compete in the large congresses, with his 5.5/9 score. The Ukranian GM produced the following miniature against Britain’s Simon Williams.