Thursday, 7 January 2010

Hastings Tournament

Happy New Year everyone! It's been very quiet on my blog for a while because I've been playing in Hastings - the oldest chess tournament in the world. The current venue is a large sports centre, that's why you can see basketball rings on the photograph below.

Hastings Masters Tournament

I wasn't able to play the first game and had an average performance in the rest of the tournament gaining 2.5 points out of 8 rounds and losing 10 rating points. However, I had some interesting games and will present those to you in a few days time. The tournament was won by four GMs on 7 points: Howell, Hebden (both English), Edouard (French) and Istratescu (Romanian). Here are the two of the four winners playing each other in round five: Howell - Istratescu ended in a win for Istratescu.


Hastings is a pleasant sea side resort in the summer, but in the winter the weather is quite miserable. There was a lot of heavy rain in the first few days and it turned into snow towards the end of the tournament. When it snows in England you can be sure that public transport stops normal operations. I guess many foreign chess players had trouble travelling back home because several airports were closed and trains were operating reduced service. There is still snow in England which has turned into dangerous ice on many footpaths and roads. This is set to continue for the coming days, creating the longest freeze in England for almost 30 years and causing all sorts of chaos across the country. I did go out for a walk around Hastings on one of the rare sunny days, however it didn't help me with my chess! Here are the ruins of the ancient Hastings Castle.

Hastings Castle

I was late for my first game (which for me was in the second round) by 20 minutes because I got lost trying to get to the venue despite leaving the hotel 15 minutes before the game. I've been to the Hastings tournament before, I think in 2001, but back then I had a car and getting around was very straightforward. This time I had to use my feet and my very wet and quickly disintegrating map in the cold Hastings rain. The streets in the centre of Hastings are quite complicated and many of them don't have signs, making it difficult to figure out where you are at any point in time. Even some Hastings residents couldn't point me in the right direction! Needless to say that Hastings is not the kind of place where you can easily flag a passing taxi. I was getting very worried, because default time was 30 minutes. Eventually someone helped me with the right directions and I arrived to my game red-faced and out of breath from all that quick walking. I eventually lost my game. Here I am once I'd calmed down a bit, seemingly not having it as tough as the chess player next to me - Petr Marusenko.

Maria Yurenok

In the evening before the last round I participated in a themed blitz tournament, which was a part of The Killer Dutch DVD launch party. The DVD is presented by the very talented English GM Simon Williams who's been playing the Classical Dutch all his life. He has a very engaging presentation style and I thoroughly recommend for anyone to buy it. I've bought one! You can find more information about the DVD and how to buy it on Simon's website: The great thing about the blitz was that every game had to start with the moves 1.d4 f5 even if you've never played those moves before in your life! There were lots of fun Dutch-themed prizes like cheese and Advocaat liqueur. Even I got a prize for being the top woman in the blitz despite getting only 2.5 points. That reminds me that I should go and taste my prize, because I got some lovely Dutch peach schnapps! :) The winner of the blitz was GM Danny Gormally, but not before the play-off against my coach and good friend IM Simon Ansell. Here is a photo of their first play-off game.

Ansell-Gormally blitz play-off

Since my tournament chess isn't going as well as I was hoping, I've decided not to go to Moscow or Gibraltar in February and train instead. My next tournament will be in mid-February and local to London. It's a bit less serious than my recent Opens, but it's still an all-play-all and FIDE-rated Uxbridge International. I will be playing in the "Challengers" section against 9 players of roughly the same strength as myself. And if all goes well I may go to the Reykjavik Open at the end of February. I've never been to Iceland and fancy checking it out!


Ryan said...

Thanks for an interesting report on Hastings!

Regarding the weather and our (British) inability to cope with it: why are we so hopeless? How do other countries just get on with life when it snows, yet Britain just grinds to a halt at the first hint of a snowflake? :-)

Alberto Santini said...

There are some interesting video lectures about Staunton Gambit (1.d4 f5 2.e4) by GM Boris Alterman (

A try in Chessclub League was a success, helped a bit by my opponent:

1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g4 h6 5. f3 exf3 6. Bd3 f2+ 7. Kxf2 d6 8. Bg6+ Kd7 9. Nf3 Nxg4+ 10. Kg3 Nf6 11. Ne5+ Ke6 12. Bf7+ {Black resigns}

Thanks for your Hastings report.

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi SonofPearl,

You are very right, we didn't have problems like that when I was living in Russia. In Chelyabinsk schools would only close at about minus 30 degrees but people still had to go to work anyway and public transport was working normally most of the time.

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Alberto,

Nice game. Looks like your opponent liked grabbing pawns a bit too much! :)
Thanks for the link, I will check it out when I have a bit more time.

Anonymous said...

Maria, who is your favourite top chessplayer?

PS Very interesting blog.

Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks! :)
It's very hard to pick a favourite player - I like so many! I probably need to watch more top-level games to make a final decision! Like many people, I enjoy entertaining styles of Morozevich, Shirov and Ivanchuk. I've met Morozevich and he's a nice person too. I also greatly admire Kramnik's chess; from younger generation I like Karjakin's play and hope he gets to the very top. Among women, of course I like Judit Polgar and Alexandra Kosteniuk. And my favourite world champion is Karpov. He came from the same Russian region as me and moreover, I really like his chess style.