Hastings. Just the name itself is to evoke a chess tournament of somewhat legendary proportions - on a par historically with Wijk Aan Zee. However there’s no doubt that the tournament has gone downhill in recent years. Go back to the mid nineties and the early 2000s and the tournament was still a fairly strong event attracting strong grandmasters on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case and the most recent edition was the weakest I can ever remember.
You can put up a lot of reasons but the primary one is money. If you put up enough cash, then the stars will come, after all they still do to Wijk Aan Zee - hardly the most glamorous location either. And the problem is that Hastings as a town isn’t doing that great, money wise, so they don’t have money to put into the event.
Another candidates tournament is rolling around - Berlin 2018, with many of the usual suspects involved. The question arises: who is favourite going into the event?
There’s little question for me that Aronian is now the outstanding favourite to win that tournament and qualify to play Carlsen. It just feels like his time. He’s just got married, he’s just had one of the best years of his life chesswise and from a personal point of view.
To start with I’m going to concentrate on British chess - in the second part I’m going to be looking at more international events like the FIDE World Cup.
Luke McShane had a great chance to win the British and only fell at the final hurdle in the playoffs. It would be cruel to say that he’s become the “Jimmy White” of the British championships, but there’s also no doubt that it’s somewhat strange he hasn’t won the tournament by now given his evident strength.
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