from The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895 By Horace F. Cheshire
THE HASTINGS CHESS TOURNAMENT
DURING parts of August and September an event of no little importance in chess history occurred in the holding of an International Tournament at Hastings. It is our pleasant, if laborious, duty to lay before our readers an account of its rise, progress, and close, with a copy of the games and a brief summary of the social proceedings. In doing so we have left the beaten track somewhat, and tried to present the whole matter in a narrative form in chronological order. We have also expunged many details commonly given, and utilised the space at our disposal for matters interesting to the votaries of chess.
It has been rather freely said by the press, and, may we say, we hope with justice, that this Tournament has been the most successful ever held. At any rate, that it was to be at least successful was quite evident from the very first week. It perhaps was due to many favouring factors, including fortuity of time, presence of an experienced local master, magnanimous help of friends, and cautious originality of committee with an almost alarming independence of action, with considerable experience in managing club chess festivals, and last, but not least, the generous assistance of the press.
Some of the advice received from friends and would-be friends was eccentric, but most was useful, and it all was carefully considered in the spirit in which it was offered, and much of it adopted with benefit.
The games will be found arranged in order of date, and also as nearly as possible to bring the notes into view at the same time as the score. The annotations are all by competitors and mostly by the prize winners, though some of these, through pressure of time, &c., could not undertake many of them, and thirty games was made a maximum number. The games were distributed so as to give as great a variety of opinion on the various openings and styles of play as possible, and so that no one should annotate his own games. The notes will be found to vary in style also : from the ponderous to the light and chatty, from the historical to the strictly analytical, with many intermediate grades.
The play has produced many surprises. It was curious to watch the varying predictions as to the winner ; in the early days few, if any, were right, though the secretary was in possession of a letter which said, 'Young Pillsbury will not be far out at the finish.'
Four Dutch papers were represented, besides five French and numberless German and British. The full reports in the press necessarily helped considerably. There were, of course, a few funny slips, due to the essential hurry and bustle, such as a player sacrificing his King for the opposing Rook's Pawn, but it was noticeable how very much more correct chess reports are now than they were a few years ago when they were left too much to non experts.
Well-known players from all parts of England were recognised — in fact, from all parts of the world ; and a very remarkable feature was the large number of ladies who graced the meeting with their presence, and the interest they took in the games. There were several minor tournaments held, as (i.) Problem-solving Tournament. A. E. Studd, Esq., the well-known problemist, had offered prizes for a solving tournament, and the Committee asked him to carry out the arrangements for them, which he did in the most able and generous manner. He provided three prizes, 3£., 2£., and 1£., and some elaborately got up solving papers with full instructions and beautifully printed diagrams. He was good enough also to conduct the competition in person, and we beg on behalf of the Committee to tender him our most heartfelt thanks.
The problems and other particulars will be found under their proper date, and the solutions at the end of the book, (ii.) An Amateur Tournament. One difficulty of all large tournaments is the apparent necessity of some sort of minor tournament. After negotiations, a second committee of British Amateurs was formed, which, however, quickly took the matter out of our hands, and we had little to do with its success except supplying funds and hiring rooms for it to be played in ; the Committee secured the Newnes Cup, and making an entrance fee of i£. provided prizes to the
value of 20£., 15£., 10£., and 5£., and four consolation prizes of 5£., 4£., 3£., and 2£. The entries received were so numerous that they were thinned down to thirty-two, and divided into eight sections. The chief prizes were won by Géza Maroczy, H. M. Atkins and R. Loman equal, and Dr. Cohn, whilst the consolation prizes were won by F. Hollins, R. P. Michell, Dr. Smith, and Rev. J. Owen in the order named. The thanks of our Committee are due to the Amateur Committee and to their hon. secretary, Mr. Grantham Williams, who conducted the Tournament, (iii.) Then there was
a Ladies' Tournament, which was kindly managed by a Ladies' Committee, consisting of Mrs. Gunsberg, London, and Mrs. Baird, Brighton, with Miss Watson, Hastings, and Mrs. Bowles, London.
The entrance fee was 5s., and the competitors had the choice of a Major and a Minor Tournament. The first prize was a handsome set of ivory chess men and board, presented by the ' Lady's Pictorial,' and was won by Lady Thomas, lady of the Manor of Marston ; second prize, Miss Field ; third prize, Miss Fox ; fourth prize, Miss Finn. The Minor section was won by Mrs. Ridpath.
Amongst the non-competitive experts Mr. Hoffer was especially conspicuous by the assistance he rendered to the success of the Hastings International Tournament, and amongst the competitors Mr. Gunsberg holds a similar position, but all, including Messrs. Blackburne, Lasker, Tinsley, Van Vliet, Mason, Guest, I. M. Brown, &c., were ever ready, and are also most sincerely thanked.
The thanks of the Committee are also tendered to Patrons, Donors, the Press, and helpers generally, not forgetting the Secretaries of the London and other Clubs, and to the competitors for the ready way in which they acquiesced in all arrangements, and showed appreciation of the efforts made on their behalf.
Now, as it is said that chess tournaments and chess history are synonymous, we will proceed to the origin and early history of ours.
ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY.
IMAGINE some years ago a London expert and three local enthusiasts wandering along some of the quiet roads of Hastings when the sun is giving us a holiday, after one of our chess events, and these four conspirators discussing the possibilities of the future, when lo ! at the witching hour of night, near the fairy dell of St. Andrew's Arch, the plot is hatched to expand the Chess Festivals to something which should startle the world.
This nocturnal perambulation seems at least to have given definite direction to the somewhat vague longings which had perhaps existed for some time, and have gradually reached so desirable a consummation.
Mr. Dobell has since that memorable occasion never let the matter slip, though as a good chess-player he was not going to be premature. His hobby has always been in mind and it has largely framed our club history.
At last he saw a favourable combination of the pieces and at once seized upon the opportunity to make the most of the position. Steinitz, the long-time champion, had been beaten, and his return challenge remained unmet, whilst Lasker, though scarcely yet robust, would probably be sufficiently recovered from his exhausting illness to try conclusions in a masters' tournament. Dr. Tarrasch liad done wonders in smaller tournaments, but there were many in the foremost rank with whom he had found no opportunity to cross Pawns. Again there were several rising stars throwing their bright, if fitful, rays across the horizon, and anxious to test their brilliancies against the steadier lights of the luminaries of greater altitude.
Tchigorin also had not played in an international tournament for some years, and would doubtless be pleased to again try conclusions with his peers. And it was felt that if these four could be secured success was certain.
Our energetic — we were nearly saying ambitious — secretary approached our president, Mr. Watney, and one of our vice-presidents, Mr. Horace Chapman, who both fell in with the idea and generously promised 50/. each. A small committee was at once formed, nearly identical with our club committee, and although some seemed rather scared at the magnitude of the scheme and responsibilities, unity became strength, and they guaranteed that the club members' subscriptions should not reach less than 150£. A few special desires in the way of competitors were approached, as well as some British experts, and when everything was ripe, public announcement was made, further subscriptions
were invited, advice was requested and promised full consideration.
The Committee had preliminarily determined on sixteen places, but when entries were invited thirty-eight were actually received ! And then the process of selection had to be undertaken, in doing which the first consideration was strength as shown by performances, and a minor one that of nationality ; but young players on the up grade were shown some preference to older ones on the down, as they were probably a little better than their reputation. It was remarked in committee : ' Who knows ? We may bring a new genius to light,' and it is evident that these new experts cannot have the history of the older ones. At length twenty-two were selected and one reserve man, whose services were however never required. One strong player wished to enter incog., but the condition was declined and the entry lost.
We had now fairly entered on our arduous labours. Special arrangements were made with the Queen's Hotel, and many of the masters availed themselves of them. The town authorities lent the large room of the Brassey Institute, which is close to the sea front, and several smaller rooms in it free of all charges, and some special tasks were delegated to individual members. Mr. Womersley, for example, undertook the heavy duty of the arrangement of the room, and getting out scoring cards, &c. Mr. King looked after the distinguishing badges, and so on, all under the eagle eye of our general. Thus everything was soon in readiness for the new battle of Hastings. It will therefore be seen that the Tournament was largely a simple outgrowth of the constant activity of the flourishing Hastings and St. Leonards Chess Club which, fortunately situated in the most picturesque part of our South Coast, has from a small beginning gradually but surely grown to its present prominent position. It might almost be said that it was the natural development of their annual events, at which the ' master ' element was always a feature.
We wil now introduce our competitors and give the regulations, &c. under which they played, and when they have finished we will give a short account of their history.