On Saturday the latest in the series of “friendly” chess matches between the Bexhill and Hastings & St Leonards Chess Clubs was played for the Challenge Trophy. After two successive defeats, Hastings & St Leonards were determined to avenge in particular the 19½-12½ thrashing (their word) inflicted last August. They duly rolled out a considerably stronger team for the 50-game match. This involved two groups of five players on each side, with all playing all in each group in rapidplay games of 10 minutes plus 5 seconds a move. This was a time control that favoured the home side because of its use in their regular rapidplay tournaments. The match started ominously when Bexhill lost four quick games in succession but managed to claw their way back with the first round ending 6-4 to Hastings. From round two it was hammer and tongs with the lead changing repeatedly. Come the final round, Bexhill had a mere one point advantage, which then extended to two. Moyra Mitchell, the least experienced player on the Bexhill side managed to win her last game. Hastings finished with two good wins in the top group, so the result was an almost incredible win for Bexhill by 25½ points to 24½. Out of the 50 games there was but one draw.
Special commendation should go to two Hastings players, Danny Lowe and Steve Oakman, who had the misfortune to finish on the losing side, despite winning all five of their games. For Bexhill, 16½ points were scored by five players from the Finn family, including father Peter and Matthew. Top boards Thomas, Jonathan and Daniel Finn won four out if their five games in the first group, all losing to Danny Lowe. However, Daniel, at the tender age of 11 can count himself unlucky not to beat Danny, as he was two pawns up towards the end of his final game. Other good performances were by Peter Finn and Dave Slidel, who both managed 3/5 in their first outings for Bexhill. The next encounter will be in Bexhill at BUPA Grosvenor Park.